Meet the candidates for Colorado Legislature

       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.
           NOTE: Candidates supplied their own photos.
           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)

    Pete Lee
           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.
    Michael Schlierf
           Age: 57.
           Family: Divorced, with three sons
           Elected experience: None.
           Time in district: Skyway area for 14 years.
           Career outside politics: Engineering (including 29 years with Intel Corporation as an engineer, operations manager, quality assurance manager and strategic marketing planner); business owner (Helios Power and Light Commercial Energy Auditing); and real-estate investor.
           1. Importance of winning. Our State Legislature is assaulting our liberty and economic freedom, diminishing our children's chances for success in Colorado. The Legislature has passed bills infringing upon our right of self-defense, relinquishing our state sovereignty to the federal government, violating our privacy, enriching crony capitalists, diluting the value of our votes and supporting the bureaucratic takeover of education. I am motivated to fight the agenda of billionaires like Michael Bloomberg, who are pouring millions of dollars into our state in an attempt to swamp our local interests. As we discovered during the recalls, a passionate, citizen-led grassroots effort is a more powerful force. I will carry that passion, as a citizen legislator, to Denver to better represent, no, actually represent the citizens of House District 18.
           2. Biggest issue(s). Economy: Current policies dole out your tax dollars in the form of tax breaks and grants and impose restrictive regulations for some, limiting competition and consumer choice and discouraging companies from choosing Colorado over other states. I would work for a single set of rules to create a healthy, predictable, job-creating economy “raising all boats.”
           Education: Education has become politicized, is being over-managed by politicians and is obsessed with testing and evaluation at the expense of teaching and learning. I would advocate the repeal and modification of legislative mandates that reduce teacher-student classroom time, burden principals and restrict the ability to remove low-performing teachers.
           Defending and restoring citizen's rights: The current Legislature's members have attacked personal rights with their gypsy voting laws and infringements upon our Second Amendment rights. They have voted for bills that would violate our privacy by allowing taking of DNA for misdemeanor crimes and imposing nanny-state laws restricting personal choice, such as the use of tobacco products and tanning beds. I will fight for your individual choice and against government control.
           Fire and flood: We need to demand that all state and federal resources are mobilized for emergency preparedness, urgent response and long-term mitigation.
           3. Governor choice. I will vote for, and support Bob Beauprez. I appreciate his “Competitive Colorado” plan, which focuses on getting government out of the way of individuals, cutting regulations and taking advantage of Colorado's energy resources to grow our economy. I had great expectations for our current governor - that he would veto legislation that was representative of the out-of-state Bloomberg agenda, and encourage bipartisan cooperation for the benefit of Colorado. He has disappointed me in rubber-stamping highly divisive legislation, playing politics rather than providing leadership and reneging on his promise to cut excessive regulations.

    Westside Pioneer article