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Editor's note about the Westside Pioneer's Q/A with the state candidates

       The election Nov. 4 will decide who represents two Colorado Legislature districts that include parts of the Westside.
       - Senate District 11 - incumbent Republican Bernie Herpin vs. Democrat Michael Merrifield.
       - House District 18 - incumbent Democrat Pete Lee vs. Republican Michael Schlierf (pronounced with an "ear" sound).
       The Westside Pioneer asked the candidates in both races for basic personal information and to respond to the same three questions. The personal information pertained to age, family, years lived in their districts and career outside politics.
       The three questions were:
       1. Personal ambition aside, why is it important that you win this race? (150- word limit)
       2. What is the biggest issue (or issues) facing [Senate District 11 or House District 18, as applicable], and what do you plan to do about it/them? (200-word limit)
       3. Who do you prefer in the Colorado governor race? Why? Note: It’s understood that you will have to work with whoever is elected, but surely the statement of any honest differences would not cause irredeemable problems. (150-word limit)

State House District 18 candidate:
Pete Lee

Courtesy of Lee campaign
       Age: 66.
       Family: Married with three children..
       Elected experience:  District 18 state representative (2011-present).
       Time in district: District lines have shifted during that time, but I have lived in Colorado Springs for over 37 years.
       Career outside politics: Lawyer for 25 years, first with a firm and later as a solo practitioner. Also a small-business owner and executive at an NYSE-listed corporation and a volunteer board member at numerous community non-profits.

       1. Importance of winning. One of my main focuses at the Legislature has been to work on rebuilding our economy. Over the last two years I have passed multiple jobs bills, including the Keep Jobs in Colorado Act (HB 13-1292), which gives Colorado companies the first shot at state contracts – to create jobs here in Colorado, employ Colorado workers, and keep our taxpayer dollars in-state. I also sponsored HB13-1003, which will assist entrepreneurs in expanding their businesses through an innovative program called “economic gardening.” While our economy is recovering, there is much more work to be done to ensure that this recovery is felt in our community.
       I am committed to continuing to serve our district and improve our communities through economic development and job creation, increased access to education for all students, and expansion of restorative justice practices. I have a proven record of reaching across the aisle and passing bills with bipartisan support.
       2. Biggest issue(s). While the economy is recovering and we have moved to fourth in the nation for job creation, many Coloradans are not yet feeling those effects in their communities. As state representative, I will continue working to build a stronger and more secure middle class, with good-paying jobs and policies to make it easier to afford higher education and save for retirement. We have passed some great bills over the last two years in economic development and boosting our local small businesses, but I think we have more work to do in the area of workforce development, so that Coloradans have the skills they need to fill the jobs that are available today.
       In the 2014 legislative session I sponsored the Advanced Industries Workforce Development program (HB 14-1013), which would have helped address this issue by encouraging businesses in the advanced industries to create training programs and internships to train the next generation of skilled workers. While the bill unfortunately did not pass this year, I plan to offer similar legislation again next session to ensure that we are developing our local workforce and better connecting job seekers with the skills they need to find good jobs.
       3. Governor choice. I was impressed by Governor Hickenlooper’s leadership during the wildfire and flood disasters over the last two years. The 2014 budget commits $144 million to fire and flood recovery efforts, and $44 million to wildfire prevention including $20 million for aircraft, while increasing our state’s rainy- day reserve to historic levels – and we have a lot of rainy days here in Colorado Springs. Nine businesses in our community received recovery grants last month. The governor said that the roads decimated by the September floods would be rebuilt and opened by Dec. 1 – and they were open by Thanksgiving. While we may not agree on every single thing, I think that he showed true leadership during the worst of times, and I respect the work he did to get our community on track to recovery as soon as possible.

(Posted 9/10/14; Politics: State/Region)

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