Democratic governor candidates share ideas on fracking, education

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis does not want to ban fracking.

Noel Ginsburg wants a systemic change in the state’s K-12 system.

The two Front Range Democratic candidates, who did some campaigning on the Western Slope recently, want people on this side of the Continental Divide to know why they are in the race to be Colorado’s next governor.

Polis, who’s served the 2nd Congressional District since 2009, is best known on the Western Slope for his efforts to limit where oil and gas drilling companies can use hydraulic fracturing.

That’s the practice of pumping water, sand and chemicals into the ground to break up formations to loosen gas and petroleum deposits.

While some saw his efforts as an attempt to ban the practice altogether, Polis says that was never his goal.

“With the advancements of horizontal drilling, you have more flexibility on where the surface activity is so you want to be, within reason, sensitive to residential communities with where the surface activity is,” he said. “Everybody has their own perspective, but I’ve always been very consistent in my opinions. Involving local communities is probably the best thing. The oil and gas industry is learning to view counties and cities as partners rather than adversaries.”

As recently as 2014, Polis was heavily campaigning for two proposed ballot measures, one of which would have increased setback rules on structures where drilling wells could be installed. A similar proposal in 2016, which Polis did not back, added public lands and water supplies, which opponents said would have been so great that it would have been a de facto ban. The other measure Polis did support in 2014 could have allowed local governments to go as far as restricting, or even banning, fracking in their jurisdictions altogether.

Amid much anger from several groups on his side of the political aisle, Polis ended up withdrawing both measures, opting instead to work with Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat and former petroleum geologist, for changes in state rules.

Meanwhile, Ginsburg’s main issue is to change the way everyone thinks when it comes to teaching children.

Ginsburg wants to take his nonprofit, CareerWise Colorado, statewide. That group, of which Ginsburg is executive director, takes educating youth to a different level. Instead of expecting all high school students to go to college after graduation, it has them — at the 10th grade — choosing their own path: college or vocational education.

The program creates apprenticeships and involves businesses that would employ them helping to pay for their education.

“What do we tell everyone to be successful in this country? You need a college degree. But only a third do,” Ginsburg said. “So we’re basically saying to the rest of the country that you’re something less. (College) needs to be a choice that’s attainable, but it’s not the only path.”

Other Democrats in the race include former Colorado Treasurer Cary Kennedy and former state Sen. Michael Johnston.


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