District 54 candidates square off
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.