Know the candidates: Senate District 11

       With the start of the 2006 election campaign, the Westside Pioneer asked the same questions of candidates for state office in House District 18 and 21 and Senate District 11 – each of which represents part of the Westside. The HD 21 responses appeared in the May 11 issue. The responses continue this issue with SD 11, in which the candidates are incumbent Ed Jones (Republican) and John Morse (Democrat).

Jones Morse
What is your career (other than politics)? If you are not currently elected to a state office, where do you work? If you are elected to a state office, where did you work?
      
       When I am not in session or in some way representing my District, I work with New Generation Homes.
      
       Political background – elected office and/or years working for the party?
      
       In 1976, I became a member of the Republican Party and was active as a precinct committee person. In 1989, I was elected by my peers to secretary of the Republican Party Central Committee. I served in that position from 1989-1993. In 1994 I was elected to the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners, and I served Commissioner District 5 for two terms, from 1994-2002.  In 2002 I was elected to the State Senate District 11 seat.
      
       Members of immediate family (wife/husband, children)?
      
       My wife, Betty Jo (BJ), and I have three grown children (Nicki, Sean, and Bobby), and we have six grandchildren.
      
       Your position on Westside Highway 24?
      
       If Highway 24 is upgraded, we must take care to preserve the quality of life on the historic Westside and Old Colorado City. I share the concern of residents and business owners there about relocating homes and businesses for the project. This area is one of the true gems of our community, and its small businesses are vital to our local economy. I agree with Commissioner Sallie Clark in that I don’t want to see “Super Slab West” out there. We must balance our need to improve our transportation network with the need to preserve quality of life.
      
       Can anything be done at the state level to help small, independently owned businesses (as on the Westside) be more successful? If so, what?
      
       We need to get rid of the business personal property tax, for one thing.   Most of the El Paso County delegation is in agreement on this, but we need more votes than we now have in the Capitol to lower or eliminate this tax. Also, we need to remove some of the mandates on small-group health plans to give small businesses more flexibility and affordability in acquiring health coverage so they can retain good workers.
      
       Can more be done at the state level to help improve the effectiveness of public schools that have high percentages of disadvantaged children (as on the Westside)? If so, what?
      
       We must offer parents as many meaningful choices as possible. The legislature can help by making it easier to establish and fund charter schools. We also need to provide tuition vouchers for poor and at-risk kids to go to schools their parents deem most effective. We must make our schools safer and intervene earlier in a child’s education to prevent dropping out. On both of these issues, I carried bills into law this session.
      
       Any issues you think are important that might have a direct impact on the Westside? If so, what?
      
       El Paso County in general and the Westside in particular will need more transportation funding and I am committed to support every effort to get our fair share.
      
What is your career (other than politics)? If you are not currently elected to a state office, where do you work? If you are elected to a state office, where did you work?
      
       I am the President/CEO of Silver Key Senior Services in Colorado Springs. I have been in that position since November 2004. Prior to that, I was the police chief in Fountain. Before spending many years in law enforcement, I worked for nine years as a CPA in both Colorado Springs and Denver.
      
       Political background – elected office and/or years working for the party?
      
       I have not held elective office before, nor have I worked for the party. I registered to vote within a few days of turning 18 and registered as an independent or unaffiliated voter. I remained unaffiliated until November 2005, but I am now a registered Democrat.
      
       Members of immediate family (wife/husband, children)?
      
       I am divorced with no children. I am the oldest of 10. Many of my brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, and my mother live in the Denver metro area. My father died in 1995.
      
       Your position on Westside Highway 24?
      
       Unfortunately, the Westside Highway 24 expansion is needed. I believe the construction should be designed to improve the road’s safety and mitigate congestion. However, it needs to be done in such as way that maintains or improves the neighborhood along its route environmentally, economically, and aesthetically. We should not sacrifice the character of our neighborhood to accommodate this upgrade. We should also work to minimize the need for the state to acquire private property.
      
       Can anything be done at the state level to help small, independently owned businesses (as on the Westside) be more successful? If so, what?
      
       I think there are two things the state can do to directly help small independently owned businesses. First, improve our economic outlook by creating jobs that provide livable wages. Second, we need to help our small businesses afford health insurance for their employees. To do this we need to find ways to provide small businesses incentives to afford the insurance and we need to create incentives to our healthcare system to reduce costs.
      
       Can more be done at the state level to help improve the effectiveness of public schools that have high percentages of disadvantaged children (as on the Westside)? If so, what?
      
       In my view, our children and teachers have been battered enough. Addressing the concerns with our public education boils down to two things. First, leadership. We need strong leaders at every level in our public education system from school board members to teachers. Second, we need to shift our focus from teaching our children to ensuring that our children learn. Teaching to a test is wrong. Measuring learning and making adjustments should be our focus.
      
       Any issues you think are important that might have a direct impact on the Westside? If so, what?
      
       Too often we forget our seniors. We need to ensure they can remain independent in their own homes for as long as possible. We need to ensure sensible prescription drug relief as well as their financial security. We must not forget that our seniors get poorer the longer they live. Also, single seniors are generally poorer than those that are married, and senior women are poorer than men. We can do better.