Two races on the ballot this year will decide key offices in Colorado: Republican Walker Stapleton is defending his office as state treasurer against Democratic challenger Betsy Markey, and Democrat Don Quick and Republican Cynthia Coffman are squaring off to succeed John Suthers as the state’s attorney general.
Democrat Betsy Markey vs. Republican Walker Stapleton
Democrat Betsy Markey has attacked incumbent Republican Walker Stapleton’s attendance during his time as Colorado treasurer. Given some of the major financial issues in the state, and the records indicating Stapleton was not spending a standard 40-hour work week in the office he was elected to, Markey has highlighted the need for a full-time treasurer.
One of the major issues is the state retirement-benefits plan, the Colorado Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA). There is a $27 billion deficit in PERA, and the candidates have very different plans to fix this hole in the system. The attraction and incentive to work for the state is fleeting when benefits and job security continue to erode.
Markey is campaigning on her 30 years of experience in the public and private sectors, including working as a “Budget Analyst in the department of Treasury, the Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and one of only four Colorado women to serve in Congress.” She represented Colorado’s conservative Congressional District 4 from 2009 to 2011. If elected treasurer, she has vowed to “restore transparency and accountability to the office.”
Stapleton’s major goals for a second-term are “to safely and prudently invest Colorado’s tax dollars, reform Colorado’s PERA, and bring a higher level of accountability and transparency to government.” He has been vocal about his position that employees should pay more into their retirement. The idea isn’t new, as state workers’ contributions were increased in a decision passed in 2010 that also allowed the state to lower retirees’ cost-of-living increases and raise the retirement age for state employees.
Democrat Don Quick, Republican Cynthia Coffman, Libertarian David K. Williams.
The office of Colorado attorney general is held by Republican John Suthers, who is term-limited. Gun rights, abortion rights and the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) have been hot-button topics for the candidates seeking to replace him.
Democrat Don Quick has been a prosecutor for more than 25 years and was elected twice as district attorney in Adams County. Quick is known as a crusader against crime but has also been innovative in setting up programs to help rehabilitate criminal behavior and help victims. According to his campaign, some of these programs include: “Implementing the Communities Against Senior Exploitation Program to reduce crimes by providing seniors with fraud prevention education. Developing the nation’s first statewide Anti-Bias Training for Colorado’s law enforcement community. Implementing Mental Health and Drug Court Programs in the 17th Judicial District.”
Republican Cynthia Coffman (wife of Mike Coffman, who is seeking re-election as U.S. Representative in the 6th Congressional District) has been practicing law for more than 20 years and has spent the last 10 working as chief deputy attorney general under Suthers. Coffman has made it clear she would sue the state for Second Amendment rights if necessary. Coffman also has vowed to fight to secure the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, stating on her website: “I will take up the fight for TABOR and for other constitutional initiatives adopted by Colorado citizens.”
Libertarian David K. Williams’ campaign describes him as an “accomplished private practice lawyer, proud father, radio show guest host, free-lance writer, blogger, and concerned citizen of Colorado” who is focused on creating a smaller government. He has said, “Increasingly I have seen a larger and larger imposition by government to control every aspect of our lives. Under the guise that only politicians can make us safe, I see more and more laws every year which are infringing on our state and federal constitutions.”