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Endorsement: Aspen Daily News

Blog    On November 4, 2016

More great news! The Aspen Daily News has endorsed my candidacy for Congress. Read their endorsement editorial below, or just click here to read the editorial on the Aspen Daily News’ website.

Aspen Daily News endorsements: Gail Schwartz for Congress

Our region’s interests in Congress would best be looked after by Gail Schwartz, whose record of supporting the environment, public lands, education and the shifting Western Slope economy makes her the clear choice over her incumbent opponent.

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, a Republican from Cortez, was elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010 and is best known to us for shutting down the government — and blocking access to the Maroon Bells for 15 days — in a fruitless 2013 Obamacare protest; taking to the House floor in January to label his constituents in the Roaring Fork Valley as environmental extremists; and then putting forward hollow compromise legislation on the Thompson Divide that was lifted almost verbatim from a proposal written by the oil and gas companies whose leases were threatened. No coincidence that those same gas companies and their employees are among the largest donors to the congressman’s biannual re-election efforts.

Tipton is now faced with his most worthy challenger since he went to Washington in Schwartz, a two-term state senator who represented until 2014 the central mountain and San Luis Valley regions, and is a former longtime local who called Snowmass Village home before moving to Crested Butte two years ago. Schwartz is a collaborator and a hard worker who has prioritized environmental concerns, expanded broadband access and more money for rural schools — all important policies to support the continued viability of the Western Slope. She also, to the delight of farmers market shoppers everywhere, passed a bill removing regulatory hurdles for cottage-industry food producers who are proliferating in the district, and she recognizes the regional shift from an economy underpinned by oil and gas development to more diverse interests.

As a state senator Schwartz supported legislation requiring rural utility providers to get 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020 and forcing some dirty power plants on the Front Range to switch from coal to natural gas. Both were sound strategies to reduce pollution and promote clean air, but Tipton has spun them into cynical attacks attempting to pin blame on Schwartz for a global coal-market collapse.

Schwartz has leveled the most devastating attacks of her campaign against Tipton’s record on public lands. The best gauge for where he stands, in our option, are his actions on the Thompson Divide. Pushing back against Bush administration-era leases allowing industrial fracking on a vast, wild stretch of land forming a western barrier to the Roaring Fork watershed has united nearly all of the valley’s political constituencies. Yet Tipton has fought for the interests of the gas companies who never should have been sold leases to drill the land in the first place. Despite widespread support for permanent protection of the Thompson Divide from ranchers, the recreation and tourism industries, and elected officials up and down the valley, Tipton has spoken over his constituents, asserting that efforts to preserve the Thompson Divide are the work of environmental extremists. The final straw was when he proposed draft legislation that would have shifted the burden of drilling to other watersheds — which our neighbors in the North Fork Valley have said they do not want — while offering no long-term protection for the Thompson Divide, meaning it could be leased out again for mineral development.

Combined with his record of cosponsoring legislation to give states control of mineral leasing on federal public lands, it’s clear that Tipton will side with the oil and gas industry when its interests conflict with citizens who want to see their heritage protected for future generations. Schwartz would rather represent the diverse interests of the 3rd Congressional District, and we hope to see her in Congress come January.

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