Senate District 23 candidates discuss Interstate 25, business regulations
October 22, 2016
Democratic state senator candidate T.J. Cole said he's using a lot of gas. The former Larimer County magistrate and attorney has been driving the length of Colorado's State Senate District 23, where he is campaigning against Republican incumbent Vicki Marble.
The district spans roughly 60 miles along the Front Range, and includes portions of Weld, Larimer and Broomfield counties. Interstate 25 is the district's main artery and it connects the three cities and 10 towns in the area.
Both Cole and Marble agree the highway is a mess.
"I-25 isn't a Democrat or a Republican — it's a problem," Cole said. "I'm a Colorado native – I know what a mess I-25 is. I know what a mess (U.S.) 36 is."
Marble also said she feels changes need to be made to the highway.
"So far, I-25 has been a piecemeal project mostly held hostage by federal money," she said in an email. "As a state, we need to look at creating more ways to keep our tax dollars here in Colorado."
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Cole said he wants to establish a forum where voters, businesses and local government can interact, called the District 23 Council. The council would hold meetings throughout the district, and would address issues such as I-25.
"We're going to have a public-private relationship," Cole said. "I want to take the oil and gas companies, the RTD and the municipalities, get them all at a District 23 meeting, and solve the I-25 issue."
Transportation is a hot-button issue in the district, in part because it is a conglomeration of both rural and urban areas. Even with these differences, Cole said he doesn't see diversity as a problem.
"People are people," he said. "I travel from (Weld County) to Broomfield and everybody is kind of in the middle. Most of us just want to solve an issue — folks are willing to come to the middle."
Marble said much of the legislation she introduced has come from that diverse voting base. She remembered passing a bill allowing veterinarians a voice on the Colorado State Board of Pharmacy. A veterinary supplier in District 23 wrote that bill.
Cole is also used to listening to people to solve problems.
"I was a judge for 22 years," he said. "All day long for eight hours a day I'd hear both sides of an issue and then make a decision. That kind of experience is critical and helpful. The art of this whole thing is in having a representative who is passionate about brining people together."
Cole and Marble both expressed a desire to help grow small business in the district by reworking the regulations governing them.
"Regulatory agencies have long been a thorn in the side of small businesses across the state," Marble said through email, adding she helped pass a bill streamlining how agencies interact with businesses.
"I want to look at regulations preventing people fro starting small businesses and make those a little more user friendly," Cole said. "Politics need to change. We need more inclusiveness and we need to be more solutions oriented."