District 54 candidates square off

Republican candidate Jared Wright, left, delivers his opening statements during a debate against Libertarian candidate Tim Menger, right, during the Redlands Rotary Club’s meeting on Friday at the Redlands Mesa Golf Course clubhouse. Both men are running for the House District 54 seat.

While he declined to appear before larger audiences at debates hosted by Club 20 and the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce earlier this month, House District 54 GOP candidate Jared Wright did show for a Redlands Rotary Club debate on Friday.

In their first public debate since the race for House District 54 began earlier this year, Wright and Libertarian candidate Tim Menger answered questions about the state Constitution, government spending and how effective either expect to be if elected in November.

Menger said if the Colorado House maintains the even split between the two major parties that it currently has, he could be the man in the middle.

“I’ll be the spike in the railroad of the two-party system, and every question that comes to me, I will bring back to the constituents,” Menger told about a dozen Rotary members who attended the debate.

He suggested, however, that he would trade his votes on whatever issues are important to other lawmakers in exchange for things that would benefit the district.

The problem with that strategy, however, is vote trading is illegal in the Colorado Legislature.

In his rebuttal, Wright also said being a “spike” isn’t always the best way for government to operate.

Besides, he said, it’s much more likely one party or the other will have a clear majority.

“A very real scenario in Colorado is that the majority ends up being the Democrats. That is a real scenario this year,” Wright said. “The last thing we need is what we had in 2006 when policies were being muscled through.”

That year, the Democrats controlled both chambers of the Legislature and the governor’s office.

“It’s important that we continue to focus on electing people who will not gridlock, but who will focus on policies that will be good for the state,” Wright said.

The Republican’s attendance at the debate is only his second public appearance since a hastily called press conference in August to address why he was offered a chance to resign his position as a Fruita police officer or be fired on allegations of being dishonest.

As he did in his one appearance since then, Wright explained that was a personnel matter that anyone might experience. He also addressed his 2011 bankruptcy filing, saying he didn’t properly prepare for the economic downturn.

Wright owed credit card companies, lenders and collection agencies about $74,000 for such purchases as automobiles, jewelry and a tanning salon membership.

“I know that I’m not the only one who’s been through some financial difficulties,” Wright said. “And I’m probably not the only one in the room who’s had a disagreement with his employer and felt that they were unfairly treated.”

The two candidates later addressed how they would approach certain issues.

Wright said he disagrees with many people in his own party when it comes to allowing constitutional amendments on the ballot.

He called citizens’ access to amending the Colorado Constitution a “very large crack,” saying some sort of reform is needed.

“It’s not popular to say that you as an individual shouldn’t be able to vote on every issue, however, I believe fundamentally that our country was established as a constitutional republic and not a raw democracy,” Wright said.

“We found something we disagree on,” Menger countered. “I think the Constitution has to be somewhat rubber so it can always be changed at the needs of the people.”

More debates are scheduled next month, but it is unknown yet if Wright will debate Menger again.


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How depressing.
The GOP candidate, Jared Wright, thinks citizens need to be restricted from being able to change the Colorado Constitution by referendum. I disagree. Moreover, I am surprised that the Bjorklands would be supporting a candidate who held such a belief. (Full disclosure: I share their disgust for the local power brokers.)
On the other hand, the Libertarian candidate believes “the Constitution has to be somewhat rubber.” Arghhh! That sounds too similar to the liberals’ “living breathing document” theory of judicial interpretation. In my view, both candidates demonstrate unacceptable ignorance of the relationship between individual freedom, rule of law, and theories of governance.
The state and federal constitutions were intended by their authors to be specific-performance two-party contracts, limiting and enumerating the powers which government can exercise over/against its citizens. Such a contract (aka “social compact”) may not simply be unilaterally changed at the whims of one of the parties (government). There are express procedures for amending constitutions. Furthermore, the notion that a supreme court can declare ipse dixit an amendment by the people to be “unconstitutional” is absurd. The only question in such a case is whether or not due process was followed in making the amendment. If due process has been properly satisfied, then an amendment by the people IS the constitution, and is not subject to being simply overruled by some court acting in arrogant excess of its constitutional authority. Why can’t some candidate just say that out loud?
The notion that somehow “gridlock” must be avoided at all costs, even at the cost of individual freedom, is sheer suicide. Avoiding gridlock is not remotely as important as representatives voting their consciences according to the moral principles they hold dear.
Although less than thrilled with the two candidates, I was considering voting for Jared White simply because 1) the GOP establishment doesn’t like him, 2) the Sentinel has been relentlessly hatcheting away at him, and 3) the Libertarian has been less than scintillating.
However when White, who pretends that he knows something about a republican form of government, expresses the tyranny-and-corruption-friendly opinion that the people’s access to amending the state constitution needs to be restricted, that alone, a glaringly “establishment” opinion,  disqualifies him from serious consideration in my book.

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