Restore the Balance Candidate Questionnaire

Restore the Balance

Candidate Questionnaire

June 2022


The grassroots organization Restore the Balance exists to educate voters about the threat political extremism poses to our democracy, whether from the left or the right. There is great demand from our members for more information regarding candidates running in the upcoming June 28th primary election. While Restore the Balance will not endorse candidates, we seek to assist voters in making the ballot choices that they feel are best suited to reject extremism and restore sanity and balance to government.

As part of that effort, RTB designed a candidate questionnaire and distributed it to all candidates with primary opposition who appear on Democratic and Republican ballots in Mesa County, Colorado. The questionnaire was sent by either U.S. Postal Service or email, depending on the address provided by the candidates or posted on their websites. A copy of “We can build an alternative to political extremism,” which summarizes our principles and forms the basis for our questions, was included with the questionnaire, shown as Appendix 1.


The following candidates were invited to participate:


Republicans

United States Senator - Ron Hanks and Joe O'Dea

Representative to Congress District 3 - Lauren Boebert and Don Coram

Governor - Greg Lopez and Heidi Ganahl

Secretary of State - Tina Peters, Mike O'Donnell, and Pam Anderson

State Representative District 55 - Trish Weber and Rick Taggart

County Clerk and Recorder - Julie Fisher and Bobbie Gross

County Sheriff - Todd Rowell and Bob Dalley


Democrats

Representative to Congress District 3 - Soledad Sandoval Tafoya, Alex Walker, and Adam Frisch


Candidates who responded were Coram, Frisch, Gross, O'Donnell, Taggart, Rowell, and Walker. Some who responded did not answer all of the questions.

No response was received from Anderson, Boebert, Dalley, Fisher, Ganahl, Hanks, Lopez, O'Dea, Peters, Sandoval, or Webber.


This report includes the unedited answers received between June 4, 2022 and June 11, 2022. The eight

questions submitted to the candidates appear in bold before each response.


Questionnaire Introduction


Dear Candidate,


The grassroots organization Restore the Balance exists to educate voters about the threat political extremism poses to our democracy, whether from the left or the right. It is our hope that you will thoughtfully answer the questions posed below and return your answers by June 8, 2022. We will reprint your responses in full and distribute them to our members, the press, and the electronic media in order to amplify ideas.


We have enclosed “We can build an alternative to political extremism,” which summarizes our principles and forms the basis for our questions. It has already been endorsed by over 2,000 people, almost all from Mesa County and the Third Congressional District.



Responses by Candidate by Office in Alphabetical Order


Don Coram - Republican Candidate for Congress, District 3


1. Do you endorse all seven principles described in the pledge? if you do, tell us how you, as an office holder will work to execute those principles to curtail the influence of political extremism in Western Colorado politics. lf you disagree with one or more of the seven principles described in the pledge, please tell us which you disagree with and why.


Coram Answer: I wholeheartedly agreed with the seven principles of Restore the Balance and was quick to sign the pledge. As a candidate, legislator, and human, I have practiced these principles my whole life and will continue to do so in Congress.


2. One of the principles is focused on the importance of breaking the gridlock which characterizes much of our politics today. Do you agree or disagree that elected officials should work to find common ground to solve problems and avoid gridlock? Describe how you have exemplified this position and plans to achieve this if elected.


Coram Answer: Gridlock is frustrating and nonproductive. Voters are sick of it, and so am I. I agree that elected officials should prioritize solving problems by focusing on policy instead of politics. During my time in the State House, I worked hard to develop a relationship with all members, regardless of party. I have delivered legislative wins for my constituents by working across the aisle toward solutions. I have accomplished this while serving in both the majority and minority because I have always been more concerned with what the idea is and less about who's idea it was.


3. As a party candidate, give examples of when, if ever, you have deviated from the party platform and why? What was the outcome? If never, why not?


Coram Answer: I have always said that the "R" behind my name stands for rural. My voting record proves that. I have been a republican all my life, but I am sure I have "deviated" from the party platform at times during my service at the legislature. That is because I wasn't elected only to serve republicans; I was elected to serve ALL of my constituents. This is the representation standard I will continue when elected to Congress.


4. Do you believe the results of the 2020 presidential election or do you believe it was stolen? On what facts do you base this opinion? Describe how you ascertain the truth in the information you obtain.


Coram Answer: I believe Joe Biden is the duly elected President of the United States. I do not think the

election was stolen. Colorado is the Gold Standard, and other states could learn from us when it comes to election security and processes. I base this opinion and all my conclusions on verified information, factual reporting, and seeking out experts in the field.


5. A wave of anti-government sentiment and political division has gripped the country. lt has surfaced in the form of profane political signs, harassment of local officials in community meetings, picketing at the homes of Supreme Court Justices, criminal violence, and the destruction of property during riots in cities across the country. To what do you attribute this level of anger, lawlessness, and disregard for human life? What can be done to stop it? What can you do as an elected official and community leader?


Coram Answer: This subject was a critical factor in my decision to run for Congress. Americans are frustrated and angry, and they have been that way for a while. Instead of bringing a sense of calm and steady leadership to ease the frustration, representatives in Washington like Lauren Boebert have poured gasoline on the fire. They have preyed on the worst of humanity for their benefit. This behavior has to stop. We have to change the culture of Congress and, in concert, change the culture of America. We must respect one another, listen to one another, and understand that we do not need to become disagreeable while we may not always agree. The best way to start the turn back to civility is to lead by example. I have done that at the legislature and will do it in Congress also. After all, we are the UNITED States of America.


6. What extremist groups do you feel exist in America in general and Western Colorado specifically and what threat or promise do they hold for democracy in America?


Coram Answer: Anti-government factions who feel they are above the rules are present in America and here in the 3rd District. They use intimidation, false narratives, and false outrage to push their cause. They claim they are enforcing oaths, promoting justice of some kind, or a variety of other buzzwords that make them a purist or part of some resistance. These groups are dangerous, and we need to weed them out of our communities. They do not pose any benefit to our country or our republic.


7. Over the last several years many mass shootings have occurred in schools, shopping centers and other public places. A recent news account reported that 169 children and young adults have been killed in 14 such events in U.S. schools and colleges since 1999. There is much fear and outrage over these tragedies. What is your position on expanding background checks for those who buy guns? lf you feel this would not completely solve the problem; do you feel it would save lives? Are you for or against the sale of semi-automatic assault rifles? Please explain your reasoning.


Coram Answer: I support the second amendment and the rights of law-abiding citizens to own firearms. I also understand the urge to pass meaningful reforms to prevent the tragedies that have become too familiar. As such, I do support expanding background checks. I also support stricter enforcement of current regulations already in law and do not see why any responsible gun owner would not.

Additionally, I would support legislation that held a person accountable if they were made aware of a potential threat of gun violence by another individual and did not report it properly. Far too often, we learn after a tragedy that somebody had been tipped off but didn't report it. This has to stop. Finally, I would support increased resources and funding for mental health programs that are desperately needed to help curb this kind of violence.

When it comes to the sale of specific firearms, I support the right of an individual to protect themselves, their families, and their property with the gun that works best for them. What works in rural Nucla, Colorado, does not work in urban Chicago, Illinois. I am concerned that a hasty one size fits all policy penalizes law-abiding and responsible gun owners and may not address the real issues. This issue will never be easy, but it is vital to have conversations and begin to work towards bipartisan solutions. I commit to being part of those discussions when elected.


8. There has been a lot of attention paid to the events of January 6th and the actions taken to prevent Congress from certifying the election of Joe Biden. Which of the following is closest to how you feel about the events of January 6th? Please explain your choice in the space provided below.

  • The actions of the mob storming into the capital have no place in a democracy. This was an attempt at an insurrection aimed at overturning the will of the voters. If found guilty, those using force and violence should be punished.

  • Those arrested and prosecuted are being unfairly treated for pursuing their first amended rights. The prosecution is just a political ploy by the Democrats. Most of those arrested are patriots, not criminals.

  • While there is no place for violence in exercising first amendment rights, it is likely that Antifa and other leftist organizations were among those inciting others to carry out violent acts. This needs to be investigated.

  • None of the above capture my feelings about January 6th.

  • Here's what I think:



Coram Selection: The actions of the mob storming into the capital have no place in a democracy. This was an attempt at an insurrection aimed at overturning the will of the voters. if found guilty, those using force and violence should be punished.

Coram Answer: Every person involved in the January 6th Insurrection, no matter what level, must be held accountable for their actions. This event was not "legitimate political discourse" and will forever stain our nation's history. This attack and the steps that led up to it are NOT what our heroes defending our freedom died for, and it must NEVER happen again.

________________________________________________________________________


Adam Frisch - Democratic Candidate for Congress, District 3


1. Do you endorse all seven principles described in the pledge? If you do, tell us how you, as an office holder, will work to execute those principles to curtail the influence of political extremism in Western Colorado politics. If you disagree with one or more of the seven principles described in the pledge, please tell us which you disagree with and why.


Frisch: Yes, I endorse all seven principles with ease. I signed up and pledged to endorse the principles as soon as I learned about Restore the Balance. These principles embody not only how I plan to lead in the future, but represent the manner in which I have been working in my community for years. I provided eight years of elected community service on the Aspen City Council, and I’ve spent years in leadership roles of various civic and nonprofit boards and commissions. I always focus on the issues and the results. Even with those whom I do not agree, I always work in a respectful tone and in a consensus-building manner. Showing kindness and respect should not be viewed as weakness, and I will continue to lead by example in my tone and tenor to curtail those that would rather feed the “anger-tainment” industry, instead of growing together as a community that takes care of one another. I have always been of the mindset, if there was a Get Stuff Done Party, I would be in that party. But sadly, that party doesn’t exist in Congress right now. We need less talk and more action in order to benefit everyone in our district, regardless of their political party. We need to consider people before politics. When I am elected to Congress, the first thing I will do is head straight to the Problem Solvers Caucus. This 58-member group is made up of 29 Democrats and 29 Republicans. They are the caucus that brought us the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the first Covid-19 bill and will likely be the driving force behind solving other issues facing our country such as healthcare, inflation and education. This group strives to listen and to understand, uses facts, and finds common sense solutions to problems.


2. One of the principles is focused on the importance of breaking the gridlock which characterizes much of our politics today. Do you agree or disagree that elected officials should work to find common ground to solve problems and avoid gridlock? Describe how you have exemplified this position and plans to achieve this if elected.


Frisch: I would not be running for Congress if I didn’t believe in helping break the gridlock in Washington. While there are a group of elected officials on both sides of the aisle who are focused merely on the performative and divisive aspects of politics, there are many more who want to work together in passing legislation for their constituents. This is my group. This is my focus. As a public servant this has always been my goal.


3. As a party candidate, give examples of when, if ever, you have deviated from the party platform and why? What was the outcome? If never, why not?


Frisch: I have never run as a party candidate before, but I do know that there is room in the Democratic Party for those with a range of opinions and desires for their district. Given how urban focused the Democratic party has become, I assume I will have a fair share of differences representing our very rural district, and that’s fine with me. I am focused on the people of Colorado’s 3rd District - that is who I am going to work for every day - not the party leaders of Washington, D.C. We have a large district with a variety of political outlooks. I want our district to be economically resilient and its people healthy both physically and emotionally. I fully plan to work across the aisle with other rural leaders to bring the benefits back home to Southern and Western Colorado.


4. Do you believe the results of the 2020 presidential election or do you believe it was stolen? On what facts do you base this opinion? Describe how you ascertain truth in information you obtain.


Frisch: Of course the 2020 presidential election was not stolen. In addition, Colorado is a true leader across the country in election management and integrity. I base my statement on the facts of the numerous legal challenges that proved the 2020 election was honest and fair. I seek out differences of opinions all the time, but there is no such thing as “alternative” facts, and definitely not in this case.


5. A wave of anti-government sentiment and political division has gripped the country. It has surfaced in the form of profane political signs, harassment of local officials in community meetings, picketing at the homes of Supreme Court Justices, criminal violence and the destruction of property during riots in cities across the country. To what do you attribute this level of anger, lawlessness, and disregard for human life? What can be done to stop it? What can you do as an elected official and community leader?


Frisch: In October of 1964, Pew Research found that 77% of Americans had “trust in government.” In March of 2019, it was 17%. This is an enormously complex issue, but we have clearly seen the effects in our country. The corrosion of institutional trust is hurting and weakening our nation. The best way to stop, or at least decrease these kinds of concerns is by electing good people to office, regardless of party, who will set a strong example of thoughtful dialogue in a bipartisan manner. We need to reframe our priorities in our representatives and, through small steps, raise the bar for our elected officials. In my decades of leadership, whether in the business, non-profit, or civic/elected world, I have always led by example. I have a proven track record of consensus building to get things done, and I will continue to treat people with respect and seek common ground, regardless of their views.


6. What extremist groups do you feel exist in America in general and Western Colorado specifically and what threat or promise do they hold for democracy in America?


Frisch: As I drive around Western Colorado and visit with constituents, I notice a lot of flags and bumper

stickers supporting the Three Percenters and QAnon. These radical organizations are rooted in extremism that does not hold any promise for democracy. Their organizations are based on hate, anger, and a lack of education in the actual history of our great nation. We live in the greatest democracy in the world, and these groups, and others like them, choose to destroy it and inflict terrorist acts on our citizens, not to enhance it through hard work and community building. It brings me great sadness that individuals would feel so disenfranchised to seek out belonging to these types of extremist groups.


7. Over the last several years many mass shootings have occurred in schools, shopping centers and other public places. A recent news account reported that 169 children and young adults have been killed in 14 such events in U.S. schools and colleges since 1999. There is much fear and outrage over these tragedies. What is your position on expanding background checks for those who buy guns? If you feel this would not completely solve the problem, do you feel it would save lives? Are you for or against the sale of semi-automatic assault rifles? Please explain your reasoning.


Frisch: Like other parents across our Country, I grieve the loss of so many young lives cut short and so many communities shattered. When COVID started, I obtained my substitute teaching license at my local public elementary school. My wife is president of our school board and is continually discussing safety and security concerns. We are parents of a 14 and 16-year old. We have family friends with a child who attended Sandy Hook, and while he survived, the mental health ramifications for him and his classmates have been extraordinary. These are horrible tragedies, and I recognize the fear, outrage, and horrific sadness we all feel in our communities when the unthinkable occurs.

During the last few months, I’ve driven over 3,500 miles across our district and talked to hundreds of gun owners. I have yet to meet a person who feels that their second amendment rights are not protected in Colorado. One of the most respected gun safety organizations in the nation - Everytown (everytown.org) - has Colorado ranked number 10 in gun safety. Colorado is proof that it is possible to have strong, sensible gun safety laws** in places that work for even the most ardent 2nd Amendment defenders. Gun owners and gun safety advocates both give high ratings to Colorado, and we need to be an example for the rest of the county. I want to emphasize again, all of the rules and regulations below (and more) are working for Colorado gun owners.

There are a lot of people in all parts of our district who are self-described passionate 2nd Amendment supporters, and these current rules work for them. They can work for the entire nation. ** Red flag / Background checks / Relinquishment for convicted domestic abusers / 21+ to purchase handgun / Concealed carry permit / Secure Storage / High Capacity Magazines Prohibited / Felony Prohibitor / Lost and Stolen Reporting / Mental Health Record Reporting / Police Use of Force Incident Data Collection and Reporting / Local Gun Laws Allowed / Complete details here: Colorado’s detailed gun laws.


8. There has been a lot of attention paid to the events of January 6th and the actions taken to prevent Congress from certifying the election of Joe Biden. Which of the following is closest to how you feel about the events of January 6th . Please explain your choice in the space provided below.

  • The actions of the mob storming into the capital have no place in a democracy. This was an attempt at an insurrection aimed at overturning the will of the voters. If found guilty, those using force and violence should be punished.

  • Those arrested and prosecuted are being unfairly treated for pursuing their first amended rights. The prosecution is just a political ploy by the Democrats. Most of those arrested are patriots, not criminals.

  • While there is no place for violence in exercising first amendment rights, it is likely that Antifa and other leftist organizations were among those inciting others to carry out violent acts. This needs to be investigated.

  • None of the above capture my feelings about January 6th.

  • Here's what I think:

Frisch: I watched, like many Americans, in horror as the former President encouraged an attack on our own capitol. I agree verbatim with option 1. Not only do those responsible need to be held accountable, but we need to make sure that this never happens again. That means electing representatives that don’t defend the insurrectionists’ actions and affirming that the 2020 presidential election was just as fair as the elections preceding it.

________________________________________________________________________



Alex Walker - Democratic Candidate for Congress, District 3


1. Do you endorse all seven principles described in the pledge? If you do, tell us how you, as an office holder will work to execute those principles to curtail the influence of political extremism in Western Colorado politics. If you disagree with one or more of the seven principles described in the pledge, please tell us which you disagree with and why.


Walker: Yes. My campaign is built on the notion of progress over party. Neither party is exempt from

extremism. Leadership in both parties has failed us. I will join bipartisan caucuses, tirelessly vocalize the need for common sense over partisanship, leverage social media to further these values among younger voters, and take extremists like Lauren Boebert to task.


2. One of the principles is focused on the importance of breaking the gridlock which characterizes much of our politics today. Do you agree or disagree that elected officials should work to find common ground to solve problems and avoid gridlock? Describe how you have exemplified this position and plans to achieve this if elected.


Walker: My campaign has championed this notion from the outset. I will be a vocal champion of common

sense in DC and use my skills with younger demographics to get common sense legislation -- rather than extremism -- onto the floor and signed into law.


3. As a party candidate, give examples of when, if ever, you have deviated from the party platform and why? What was the outcome? If never, why not?


Walker: I regularly break with the party, because party politics make no sense. Parties have become grab bags of disconnected policies. I support responsible gun ownership, free markets, affordable healthcare, subsidized by taxing Big Pharma, human rights, voting rights, a woman's right to choose, and housing for rural Americans. My views range across the entire political spectrum, but I am a Democrat who believes we need common sense policies.


4. Do you believe the results of the 2020 presidential election or do you believe it was stolen? On what facts do you base this opinion? Describe how you ascertain truth in information you obtain.


Walker: Of course the 2020 election wasn't stolen. I base my position on countless studies, as well as

decades of research showing that voter fraud is vanishingly rare: 13 times per 1 billion votes cast.


5. A wave of anti-government sentiment and political division has gripped the country. lt has surfaced in the form of profane political signs, harassment of local officials in community meetings, picketing at the homes of Supreme Court Justices, criminal violence and the destruction of property during riots in cities across the country. To what do you attribute this level of anger, lawlessness, and disregard for human life? What can be done to stop it? What can you do as an elected official and community leader?


6. What extremist groups do you feel exist in America in general and Western Colorado specifically and what threat or promise do they hold for democracy in America?


Walker: I believe two groups are responsible, but not in equal measure: violent nationalists and the extreme left. Violent nationalists have made violence commonplace and are single handedly responsible for the threats of physical violence I've encountered as a candidate. However, leftist extremists are prolific on social media and make the internet a hostile environment for anyone proposing common sense or (God forbid) compromise.

Leftists are annoying, but violent nationalists are criminals: see January 6th, Charlottesville and racially

motivated hate crimes. I'm combating all the above by making "common sense" the solution. (See my social media presence and launch ad.)


7. Over the last several years many mass shootings have occurred in schools, shopping centers and other public places. A recent news account reported that 169 children and young adults have been killed in 14 such events in U.S. schools and colleges since 1999. There is much fear and outrage over these tragedies. What is your position on expanding background checks for those who buy guns? lf you feel this would not completely solve the problem, do you feel it would save lives? Are you for or against the sale of semi-automatic assault rifles? Please explain your reasoning.


Walker: We need to close the Charleston loophole, enact red flag laws, ban assault weapons, and ban

weapons on school grounds. Not complicated.


8. There has been a lot of attention paid to the events of January 6th and the actions taken to prevent Congress from certifying the election of Joe Biden. Which of the following is closest to how you feel about the events of January 6th. Please explain your choice in the space provided below.

  • The actions of the mob storming into the capital have no place in a democracy. This was an attempt at an insurrection aimed at overturning the will of the voters. If found guilty, those using force and violence should be punished.

  • Those arrested and prosecuted are being unfairly treated for pursuing their first amended rights. The prosecution is just a political ploy by the Democrats. Most of those arrested are patriots, not criminals.

  • While there is no place for violence in exercising first amendment rights, it is likely that Antifa and other leftist organizations were among those inciting others to carry out violent acts. This needs to be investigated.

  • None of the above capture my feelings about January 6th.

  • Here's what I think:


Walker: The actions of the mob storming into the capital have no place in a democracy. This was an attempt at an insurrection aimed at overturning the will of the voters. lf found guilty, those using force and violence should be punished. A coup is a coup. Insurrectionists stormed the Capitol and took a life. They planned to take many more. I don't care if it's politically expedient or inexpedient; I will never demur from my stance on this issue because we cannot water down domestic terrorism.

________________________________________________________________________



Mike O'Donnell - Republican Candidate for Secretary of State


1. Do you endorse all seven principles described in the pledge? If you do, tell us how you, as an office holder will work to execute those principles to curtail the influence of political extremism in Western Colorado politics. If you disagree with one or more of the seven principles described in the pledge, please tell us which you disagree with and why.


O'Donnell: Yes


2. One of the principles is focused on the importance of breaking the gridlock which characterizes much of our politics today. Do you agree or disagree that elected officials should work to find common ground to solve problems and avoid gridlock? Describe how you have exemplified this position and plans to achieve this if elected.


O'Donnell: Yes, where possible, but not on issues directly violating the U.S. Constitution.


3. As a party candidate, give examples of when, if ever, you have deviated from the party platform and why? What was the outcome? If never, why not?


O'Donnell: Never - I have never sought political office before.


4. Do you believe the results of the 2020 presidential election or do you believe it was stolen? On what facts do you base this opinion? Describe how you ascertain truth in information you obtain.


O'Donnell: Many people alleged impropriety associated with the 2016 election results. There were many more irregularities associated with the 2020 election. Nonetheless, the current occupant of the White House is recognized by the Congress as the President of the United States and irregardless of any personal opinion I may hold, I will always respect the Office itself.


5. A wave of anti-government sentiment and political division has gripped the country. It has surfaced in the form of profane political signs, harassment of local officials in community meetings, picketing at the homes of Supreme Court Justices, criminal violence and the destruction of property during riots in cities across the country. To what do you attribute this level of anger, lawlessness, and disregard for human life? What can be done to stop it? What can you do as an elected official and community leader?


O'Donnell: Sadly, divisiveness is widespread today, fueled by media outlets, technology companies and politicians promoting particular ideologies which necessitate widespread unrest to disrupt and marginalize the principles on which this nation was originally founded.


6. What extremist groups do you feel exist in America in general and Western Colorado specifically and what threat or promise do they hold for democracy in America?


O'Donnell: None that I am familiar with.


7. Over the last several years many mass shootings have occurred in schools, shopping centers and other public places. A recent news account reported that 169 children and young adults have been killed in 14 such events in U.S. schools and colleges since 1999. There is much fear and outrage over these tragedies. What is your position on expanding background checks for those who buy guns? If you feel this would not completely solve the problem, do you feel it would save lives? Are you for or against the sale of semi-automatic assault rifles? Please explain your reasoning.


O'Donnell: Sadly, approximately 3,000 young Americans under the age of 17 die from all causes EACH MONTH in the United States. Many more from suicide, drug overdoses, traffic accidents, domestic violence, murder, etc., than mass shootings. All such tragedies should nonetheless be averted wherever possible.


8. There has been a lot of attention paid to the events of January 6th and the actions taken to prevent Congress from certifying the election of Joe Biden. Which of the following is closest to how you feel about the events of January 6th. Please explain your choice in the space provided below.

  • The actions of the mob storming into the capital have no place in a democracy. This was an attempt at an insurrection aimed at overturning the will of the voters. If found guilty, those using force and violence should be punished.

  • Those arrested and prosecuted are being unfairly treated for pursuing their first amended rights. The prosecution is just a political ploy by the Democrats. Most of those arrested are patriots, not criminals.

  • While there is no place for violence in exercising first amendment rights, it is likely that Antifa and other leftist organizations were among those inciting others to carry out violent acts. This needs to be investigated.

  • None of the above capture my feelings about January 6th.

  • Here's what I think:


O'Donnell: Here's what I think: There were likely bad actors involved in instigating some of the less peaceful protests that occurred in Washington DC on January 6th although the only two deaths that occurred that day involved the deaths of unarmed protesters at the hands of law enforcement officers.

Riots, looting, fire-bombings and at least 25 murders that occurred during the summer protests of 2020 occasioned much more deep-seated damage to the underlying fabric of the United States than the protests on January 6th 2021.

________________________________________________________________________



Rick Taggart - Republican Candidate for State Representative, District 55


1. Do you endorse all seven principles described in the pledge? If you do, tell us how you, as an office holder will work to execute those principles to curtail the influence of political extremism in Western Colorado politics. If you disagree with one or more of the seven principles described in the pledge, please tell us which you disagree with and why.


Taggart: I do believe in and endorse these principles. I have and will continue to honor differing points of view on issues. I will always research issues to gain the facts on a subject. I will listen intently to all points of view to enable me to understand the breadth of an issue. While I may have a very strong viewpoint on a subject, I respect that my thoughts are not the only thoughts. My ideas may not be the best ideas. I will always seek out common ground on a subject or issue so that we can move forward with solutions.


2. One of the principles is focused on the importance of breaking the gridlock which characterizes much of our politics today. Do you agree or disagree that elected officials should work to find common ground to solve problems and avoid gridlock? Describe how you have exemplified this position and plans to achieve this if elected.


Taggart: As a City Council member for the last 7 years and Mayor for 2 of those years I have honored the fact that our citizens elected and hired us to address difficult issues and to develop solutions that better our community. Gridlock is not acceptable at a municipal level. If I am fortunate enough to be elected, I will take this commitment to Denver. Gridlock is not at all acceptable. I will do everything in my power to find common ground with other legislators to further solutions that are best for the citizens of this community and the State at large.


3. As a party candidate, give examples of when, if ever, you have deviated from the party platform and why? What was the outcome? If never, why not?


Taggart: Please understand that municipal elections are to be non-partisan in nature. I have adhered to this throughout my tenure. My focus has been to do what is right for the community. As a candidate for House District 55 I will continue to support the basic Republican Principles. This means a belief in smaller government, fiscal conservatism and respecting the Tabor amendment in Colorado. I believe in protecting individual freedoms and the individual responsibilities and duties that support this principle. Equally important I believe in tolerance, inclusiveness (I worked hard on the Inclusivity Proclamation for the City of Grand Junction) and an optimistic point of view that we can do better as a society.


4. Do you believe the results of the 2020 presidential election or do you believe it was stolen? On what facts do you base this opinion? Describe how you ascertain truth in information you obtain.


Taggart: No, I do not believe the election was stolen. Should we continue to seek out means to protect our election process? The answer is yes. All processes can be improved upon, but the election was not stolen. Challenges to a process are good for democracy, but when the facts do not support the allegations, it is time to move on.


5. A wave of anti-government sentiment and political division has gripped the country. lt has surfaced in the form of profane political signs, harassment of local officials in community meetings, picketing at the homes of Supreme Court Justices, criminal violence and the destruction of property during riots in cities across the country. To what do you attribute this level of anger, lawlessness, and disregard for human life? What can be done to stop it? What can you do as an elected official and community leader?


Taggart: I do not have a simple answer for this very complex question. I just know I am an individual with high ethical standards, and I always want to conduct myself in a manner that my parents, family, and friends would be proud of. I will always seek to treat others as I want to be treated and that means listening and respecting others and their point of view. If we could all take a step back from our own opinions and listen to one another, we would be much better off.


6. What extremist groups do you feel exist in America in general and Western Colorado specifically and what threat or promise do they hold for democracy in America?


Taggart: It would be against my personal principles to pass judgment on organized groups. I want to continually find common ground with my fellow man. Passing judgment on individuals or groups goes against who I am as an individual.


7. Over the last several years many mass shootings have occurred in schools, shopping centers and other public places. A recent news account reported that 169 children and young adults have been killed in 14 such events in U.S. schools and colleges since 1999. There is much fear and outrage over these tragedies. What is your position on expanding background checks for those who buy guns? lf you feel this would not completely solve the problem, do you feel it would save lives? Are you for or against the sale of semi-automatic assault rifles? Please explain your reasoning.


Taggart: I am pro-Second Amendment. Colorado has in its laws background checks, and our legislature has also adopted a Red-Flag law. Our Congress is now debating additional gun law measures and I am not certain what will come of these discussions and debates. The recent school shooting in Texas is yet another tragic incident and I grieve for the families and friends of these students and teachers. An individual intent on hurting someone will find a weapon irrespective of our laws. I believe that we as conservatives should focus on attacking the issues of behavioral and mental health. We must work diligently on the root of the problem.


8. There has been a lot of attention paid to the events of January 6th and the actions taken to prevent Congress from certifying the election of Joe Biden. Which of the following is closest to how you feel about the events of January 6th. Please explain your choice in the space provided below.

  • The actions of the mob storming into the capital have no place in a democracy. This was an attempt at an insurrection aimed at overturning the will of the voters. If found guilty, those using force and violence should be punished.

  • Those arrested and prosecuted are being unfairly treated for pursuing their first amended rights. The prosecution is just a political ploy by the Democrats. Most of those arrested are patriots, not criminals.

  • While there is no place for violence in exercising first amendment rights, it is likely that Antifa and other leftist organizations were among those inciting others to carry out violent acts. This needs to be investigated.

  • None of the above capture my feelings about January 6th.

  • Here's what I think:


Taggart: The actions of the mob storming into the Capital have no place in democracy. This was an attempt at an insurrection aimed at overturning the will of voters. If found guilty, those using force and violence should be punished. Whether we are Republican, Democrat or Independent the principles of democracy remain the same. We are a representative government and when our citizens choose, we need to respect their choice. If this means a transfer of power from one party to another, then so be it. We need to honor our Constitution.

________________________________________________________________________



Bobbie Gross - Republican Candidate for Mesa County Clerk and Recorder


1. Do you endorse all seven principles described in the pledge? lf you do, tell us how you, as an office holder will work to execute those principles to curtail the influence of political extremism in Western Colorado politics. lf you disagree with one or more of the seven principles described in the pledge, please tell us which you disagree with and why.


Gross: I do endorse all the principles. The office of the Clerk and Recorder is administrative in nature, meaning that the Clerk and Recorder does not make the rules and laws and must work within them. I will work from facts in my decision making and participate in legislative discussions to ensure the citizens of Mesa County are represented. I will share facts about how elections are conducted and the checks and balances in place to help combat voter fraud. Sharing information on the conduct of the Clerk’s Office is key to bringing trust back.


2. One of the principles is focused on the importance of breaking the gridlock which characterizes much of our politics today. Do you agree or disagree that elected officials should work to find common ground to solve problems and avoid gridlock? Describe how you have exemplified this position and plans to achieve this if elected.


Gross: I strongly believe where there is a will there's a way. As Clerk I will work with many agencies and community partners such as the Department of Revenue, Secretary of State, other elected officials, municipalities, legislators, citizens, and my team members to continuously improve. I am open to honest and productive communication, to come to resolutions to serve the community.


3. As a party candidate, give examples of when, if ever, you have deviated from the party platform and why? What was the outcome? lf never, why not?


Gross: As a candidate for a local office, I have not yet been pressured to deviate from my political party's platform, other than I have said I love my mail ballot.


4. Do you believe the results of the 2020 presidential election, or do you believe it was stolen? On what facts do you base this opinion? Describe how you ascertain truth in information you obtain.


Gross: I have not seen anything that would overturn the 2020 election results. I am a nationally certified elections administrator and during my education I networked with other election officials across the county. The election officials are dedicated to running fair, transparent, and accurate elections, most do not get involved in politics, they want elections to reflect the will of the people. When I ascertain the truth, I ask questions to the experts that are well versed and experienced in the matter. Ronald Reagan said, “Trust but verify.”


5. A wave of anti-government sentiment and political division has gripped the country. lt has surfaced in the form of profane political signs, harassment of local officials in community meetings, picketing at the homes of Supreme Court Justices, criminal violence and the destruction of property during riots in cities across the country. To what do you attribute this level of anger, lawlessness, and disregard for human life? What can be done to stop it? What can you do as an elected official and community leader?


Gross: This behavior is disheartening. I attribute the behavior to lack of factual information being shared. To help stop it, the silent majority must speak out, help educate in a nonpartisan platform. As an elected official and community leader I will be transparent and engage in discussions whole heartedly.


6. What extremist groups do you feel exist in America in general and Western Colorado specifically and what threat or promise do they hold for democracy in America?


Gross: I might be optimistic in my approach, but I believe in having open and honest conversations with the citizens. I believe they are compassionate about their feelings and want to be heard and want someone to listen to what their frustrations are. I believe at the end of the day we can find some common ground. I have had a number of conversations with individuals of vastly opposing viewpoints over the validity of the 2020 elections results and at the end of the discussion they may not have believed what I said but we found some mutual respect and common goals in having secure, accurate, and transparent elections.


7. Over the last several years many mass shootings have occurred in schools, shopping centers and other public places. A recent news account reported that 169 children and young adults have been killed in 14 such events in U.S. schools and colleges since 1999. There is much fear and outrage over these tragedies. What is your position on expanding background checks for those who buy guns? lf you feel this would not completely solve the problem; do you feel it would save lives? Are you for or against the sale of semi-automatic assault rifles? Please explain your reasoning.


Gross: I believe there is no harm in expanding background checks. We need to focus on the issue of why these shootings are happening, I believe we are focusing on the guns and not why they are occurring. I am thankful I am not a decision maker on the laws concerning guns. This is a tough question and needs to be discussed in depth with lawmakers who will avoid gridlock.


8. There has been a lot of attention paid to the events of January 6th and the actions taken to prevent Congress from certifying the election of Joe Biden. Which of the following is closest to how you feel about the events of January 6th. Please explain your choice in the space provided below.

  • The actions of the mob storming into the capital have no place in a democracy. This was an attempt at an insurrection aimed at overturning the will of the voters. If found guilty, those using force and violence should be punished.

  • Those arrested and prosecuted are being unfairly treated for pursuing their first amended rights. The prosecution is just a political ploy by the Democrats. Most of those arrested are patriots, not criminals.

  • While there is no place for violence in exercising first amendment rights, it is likely that Antifa and other leftist organizations were among those inciting others to carry out violent acts. This needs to be investigated.

  • None of the above capture my feelings about January 6th.

  • Here's what I think:


Gross: I believe the actions of the mob that stormed into the capital have no place in a democracy. It is the right of every citizen to protest if they do not believe what law makers are doing is right but they must do it peacefully and respectfully. Violence is not the answer.

________________________________________________________________________



Todd Rowell - Republican Candidate for Mesa County Sheriff


Rowell: Thank you for sending me the questionnaire. Unfortunately, between running the Sheriff’s Office and campaigning, I am not going to have the time to answer each of your questions in detail.

I do want to introduce myself so you and your membership understand who I am. I am a Western Slope Native, raised in Paonia, Colorado. After high school, I joined the United States Marine Corps. I had a very successful military experience and learned a lot about leadership during my four-year enlistment.


After the military, I attended both the Corrections Academy and the Police Academy, graduating at the top of my class in spring of 2000. Later that year I was able to start my law enforcement career as a Patrol Deputy with the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office. Over the years I have worked my way through every rank at the Sheriff’s Office, and last year I was blessed to be appointed as the Mesa County Sheriff.


My wife and I have been together for over 20 years. We are both CMU Alumni. I hold degrees in both Criminal Justice and Public Administration. We have chosen to raise our family in this amazing community. We have two boys in High School and I pray that they have the same opportunities that I have had growing up in this great nation. I am a long time Republican and support the values of limited government and individual freedom.


My family and I are Christians and attend Fellowship Church.

There is no doubt that we live in divisive times as a County, State and as a Nation. Between social media and national news, it seems as though we are constantly pushed to the far extremes of politics. Oftentimes led by misinformation that people can quickly share over a platform. I believe that we have many things in this community of common interest that we should be applying our energy to fix. Unfortunately, the things we will never agree on seem to consume us and we lose the ability to have thoughtful conversations about things we mostly agree upon.


Having almost 22 years of law enforcement experience, I know that the people calling for our help in the

community do not need their law enforcement to be politicized. Most of the time they need assistance from a caring and professional individual on one the worst days of their life. As Sheriff, I recognize that I am the Sheriff for all 160,000 residents of our County. Although I am a Republican, I will apply the law equally to all, no matter their political affiliation, social class, or economic status.

Thank you for being involved.

________________________________________________________________________


Appendix 1.


We can build an alternative to political extremism.


We are Republicans, Democrats and those unaffiliated with a party. We are conservatives, moderates, and liberals. Many of us have long been active in politics while some of us have been uninvolved - until now. But today, we agree that we must speak out about a serious threat facing communities throughout the country.


Political extremism is that threat. It has fueled hatred. It has promoted false conspiracies and lies. It has turned family, friends, and neighbors against each other. And it must stop.


We want to be clear. We are not against principled partisanship from any political party or interest group. We are against any extremism whether from the left or right.


Yes, this is political, but it is not only about politics. Fundamentally, it is about how we treat each other. Call it civility, respect, or plain good manners. Democracy cannot survive without it. Speaking up publicly against extremism right now is essential. Silence emboldens extremists. The last few years have shown that it will not go away just by hoping it will. We must do more.


Extremism is an issue facing the entire country. But our best chance of influencing change is by focusing on the local level. lf more of us become involved, we can rebuild politics in our local communities. It is possible to return to a sane and functional government.


We must do more than simply be against extremism. We must embrace an alternative set of political

principles. We, agree these seven beliefs should guide us.

  • We believe that political parties should vigorously compete over values, principles, and ideas, but also find common ground to solve problems and pass needed legislation. Gridlock is not an option.

  • We believe facts, supported by irrefutable evidence, are the basis for what to believe and how to act. No civilization can endure when its citizens believe there is no such thing as objective facts or truths.

  • We believe that no one has a monopoly on the best public policy proposals. That means the ability to listen to and understand both sides of a debate are a prerequisite to finding practical solutions.

  • We believe public interest must come before party interest. This means putting what is right ahead of loyalty to a party or an individual party leader.

  • We believe that problem-solving is more important than fund-raising. Extremists line their pockets then use the funds to amplify division instead of producing solutions.

  • We believe citizens should be free to run for office or volunteer to support the candidate of their choice without being threatened or harassed. Extremism uses intimidation because it cannot stand up to independent, open-minded thinking. lnstead, it relies on the mentality of the mob.

  • We believe it is time to expect citizens to embrace individual responsibility. Extremists always talk about "freedom," but never mention the responsibility to the community that comes with it.

We, the undersigned, endorse these beliefs and pledge:

  •  To support candidates who best embody these beliefs - regardless of political party.

  •  To urge family and friends to oppose political extremism as if the well-being of the nation depends on it.

  •  To speak up and speak out publicly, with friends over coffee or more publicly in media.

  •  To get involved, vote and volunteer.

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