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)

    Michael Merrifield
           Age: 67.
           Family: Divorced, with two children.
           Elected experience: Manitou Springs City Councilmem-ber (1996-2000), District 18 state representative (2003-2010).
           Time in district: 26 years.
           Career outside politics: Retired schoolteacher and former small-business owner.
           1. Importance of winning. It is not just important I win this race; it is critical for the community. The issues confronting the voters in Senate District 11 require strong leadership and experience in the Legislature. The district faces critically important decisions around public safety, our environment, our business community and education. The voters need someone who listens, understands, and is vested in the community. I will work tirelessly to do everything possible for the Senate District 11 constituents when elected.
           Additionally, as a former teacher and chairman of the Education Committee, I believe our public education system is facing a crisis in education philosophy and in the matter of equitable funding for schools. Furthermore, the hyper-emphasis on testing and test scores is driving all the joy, creativity and yes, fun, out of teaching and learning. I have the experience and the understanding needed to make necessary progress in this area.
           2. Biggest issue(s). Please see above answer. Additionally, the challenges of the redevelopment and reconstruction of Highway 24 is an important matter for voters in Senate District 11. As senator, I will see to it that the Highway 24 project is completed in a timely and fair manner. The renovation needs to benefit Old Colorado City merchants and have a positive impact on the neighborhood in general. The same is true for the streetscaping of No Man's Land between Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs on West Colorado Avenue.
           3. Governor choice. I am very proud of what has been accomplished in the State Legislature with Governor Hickenlooper at the helm. As a Democrat, I am committed to continue such progress under his leadership.
    Bernie Herpin
           Age: 70.
           Family: Married, with three daughters.
           Elected experience: Colorado Springs City Council (2006-2007, 2009-2013), District 11 state senator (2013-present).
           Time in district: 34 years.
           Career outside politics: US Navy submarine service, enlisted/officer; US Air Force officer; engineer and program manager for defense contractors.
           1. Importance of winning. Continue the work I started in 2014 to fully implement Jessica's Law in Colorado, to improve Colorado's Shield Law to protect media sources, to support efforts to mitigate possible flood damage and recover from fire and flood damage, to increase parents' ability to choose how their K-12 children are educated, and to help make Colorado more "job- and business- friendly."
           2. Biggest issue(s). (1) Manitou Springs flood potential: Continue efforts to mitigate possible flood damage. (2) Possibility of a Department of Defense Base Realignment and Closure Action (BRAC): Continue efforts to improve our relationship with our military members and to continue to support the study to determine the economic impact that the DoD has on all of Colorado. (3) Jobs: Support legislation that reduces government burden on businesses, especially small businesses, and rolls back unnecessary regulations.
           3. Governor choice. I am supporting Bob Beauprez for governor because of his pro-business experience and pledged support for business. I believe he is better positioned to improve Colorado's economy and job growth. In my first session, I worked with both Repub-licans and Democrats to get legislation passed that benefits our state. I worked with the Governor's Office on bill-signings. I will work with whomever I need to for the betterment of Colorado.

    Westside Pioneer article