The race for House District 36 is a reprise of 2016. Democrat Mike Weissman is running for a second term and is again challenged by accountant Richard Bowman, a Republican. The winner of the race will serve a two-year term representing a part of Aurora that’s primarily blue collar and middle income.

House District 36 is east Aurora, including Buckley Air Force Base, the Aurora Reservoir, and almost 80,000 Aurorans. The district is an amalgam of suburban and rural Colorado, but has been represented by a Democrat for the last four years.

Weissman sits on the House Judiciary and State, Veterans and Military Affairs committees, and points to bipartisan bills on community college enrollment, criminal justice reform and affordable housing as measures he’s led on.  “We’re in a bipartisan environment, and every bill I’ve passed I’ve done with Republican votes,” Weissman said.

Weissman said he is proud of his ability to help individual constituents in Aurora.

“I’ve been able to keep people avoid eviction because they were temporarily between jobs; not go to sleep on the street because their housing situation fell apart; find assistance in dealing with post traumatic stress; and just more fully understand their rights and options about getting involved in legislative debates or agency rule makings,” he said. “At the end of the day, government is supposed to solve problems.  Sometimes that means trying to pass a bill.  Sometimes that is on a very individual, personal level.”

Weissman is running for re-election to re-introduce bills that were not signed into law, including a measure allowing employees to take time off before Election Day to vote via a mail-in ballot. Current state law only protects voters taking time off work to vote on Election Day.

Weissman said his priorities for the next legislative session would be affordable housing, transportation, criminal justice and campaign finance reform.

Bowman, a longtime accountant, is a Republican critical of Weissman for being too left-leaning for the 36th district.

Mike Weissman Campaign

Richard Bowman Campaign

“It’s a philosophy of liberty versus socialism,” said Bowman. “Democrats don’t like to be called socialists. They like to be called progressives. But [progressive policy] diverts money from individuals into the common good. I do believe my good buddy Weissman is leaning toward socialism lite.”

Bowman said his priorities would lie in taking a deep look at the budget and cutting healthcare spending, which accounted for about 40 percent of the 2017-2018 fiscal year. He called the Affordable Care Act “socialist.”

He is generally opposed to raising taxes.

Bowman sees affordable housing as an economic problem of supply and demand.

“Build projects like they did in Chicago? That went over real good,” Bowman said.

“I do not think government should have a role in the matter.”

Bowman said the housing crisis is an economic opportunity and said a trailer park in Strasbourg or Bennett would be a good idea.

Bowman loaned $100,000 to his own campaign, compared to about $66,000 of contributions to Weissman’s campaign, according to recent campaign finance filings.

On his website, Bowman wrote “Should Richard get elected you will be getting two representatives instead of one.” He said his wife would be the “heart” of his “cold-hearted” approach to public policy and he would “bounce ideas off of her.”

He gave the example that she could talk him out of cutting healthcare spending.

In 2016, Weissman received about 55 percent of the vote, to Bowman’s 44.

 

MIKE WEISSMAN

Mike Weissman studied economics and later received a law degree. His political experience includes advising city- and county-level officials in eastern metro area and staffing Morgan Carroll’s unsuccessful bid to replace Aurora Congressman Mike Coffman in 2016.

RICHARD BOWMAN

Richard Bowman is an Aurora native and a graduate of CU Denver. He has spent decades as an accountant. He has advised city- and county-level governments on budgetary concerns. This is his third run for Colorado’s 36th house district.

ABOUT THE CANDIDATES

Campaign Questions for Mike Weissman
  1. In light of the spate of sexual harassment claims this year, should the Legislature create some kind of fines or other punitive measure for lawmakers deemed guilty of harassment?

Yes, there need to be consequences.  The ultimate punitive measure is expulsion, which either the House or Senate may do via a 2/3 vote pursuant to our state constitution.  I voted to expel a former representative because the evidence of harassment and retaliation was overwhelming. Leadership can also strip members of committee assignments and either chamber can vote to officially reprimand a member for bad conduct.

  1. Should the state cede some control of fracking and gas and oil production to counties and municipalities? How much?

Yes.  There are two separate sets of issues relating to fracking – scientific or technical standards and community standards.  Community standards are things like the precise location of a well pad, the height of structures, or mitigation of noise or light emissions, designation of trucking routes, upkeep of roads utilized.  These determinations can vary across different cities and towns in our state. It’s appropriate that municipalities have some say over this latter set of issues, as they do over many other siting and zoning issues.  Scientific/technical standards are things like what chemicals are used, what type of cement is used, the thickness of well casing, etc. I don’t think municipal or county governments have the resources to be making those kinds of determinations individually.  Those standards should be uniform across the state and protective of human and environmental health.

  1. Gov. John Hickenlooper has issued an executive order mandating a 26 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, is that too much, too little or adequate?

The executive order is a start, but we need to do more.  Just today, Fortune and other news outlets reported on the latest work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – we need to aim for a 40% reduction in the next 12 years.

  1. Several studies show that growth at any level never pays for itself. Should Colorado impose a tax on newcomers, i.e. license plate and other fees?

No, we should not just tax people who move to Colorado.  That’s not who we are in this state or in the west. And such a tax probably violates the Privileges & Immunities Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which concerns freedom of movement around the country and the right to make a living.  But we do need to invest adequately in infrastructure to keep up with growth – that means roads and transit, schools (including teachers and support staff), and “green infrastructure” like trails, parks, and open spaces. And at the local level where planning and zoning decisions are made I hope cities and counties keep livability in mind, so that as new housing is built there are amenities like grocery stores reasonably nearby.

  1. Would you support the red-flag bill that passed the state House this year?

Yes.  I voted for HB18-1436 in committee and on the floor.  This was a reasonable public safety measure that could save lives by keeping weapons out of the hands of mentally unstable individuals while respecting the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners.

  1. Would you support full tolling on select roads or interstates to help fund road construction?

No, we should not have fully-tolled roads in Colorado.  I don’t like the extent to which tolling is already proliferating, but at least now people have options to not drive in a tolled lane on US-36 or I-25.

  1. Should the Legislature work to reduce in-state tuition at state colleges? How?

Yes.  It has become cheaper in some cases for students to go out of state than to go to public colleges & universities in Colorado and that’s crazy.  The more public investment in higher education, the lower tuition will be, all other things equal. I also support Concurrent Enrollment as a way for high school students to earn college credit at very low cost.  This is a way to gain college-level education without having to pay college-level tuition. We also need to keep an eye on growth in administrative or capital costs to make sure these don’t unnecessarily drive tuition higher.

  1. Would you support a state path toward some kind of universal or single payer health care in Colorado?

We are an affluent country and it’s not acceptable that millions of people are uninsured or underinsured and cannot access healthcare.  So, if it’s done right, yes. There is increasingly less access to providers, less competition between insurance companies, higher premiums, higher co-pays and co-insurance, and more frustration with the present system.  We spend well over $3 trillion on healthcare annually in the U.S. We can be getting better results for that much outlay.

  1. Would you support a bill ending capital punishment in Colorado?

Yes.  The death penalty is disparately applied against low-income and minority defendants; exacts a great cost on our criminal justice system at potentially millions of dollars per capital case; is on increasingly shaky legal ground; is being looked upon with increasing skepticism by other states of various political persuasions; and fundamentally just is not a power a state should wield over its citizens.  There have been dozens of Supreme Court cases involving the death penalty since 1976, and I believe it is significant that in the last decade the Court barred imposition of the death penalty against minor defendants (Roper v. Simmons) and developmentally disabled defendants (Atkins v. Virginia).

  1. Would you support a bill to prohibit the use of red-light cameras in Colorado?

Yes.  I think there are other ways to enforce traffic safety.

  1. Would you support a bill promoting arming teachers and staff at public schools?

No.  If there are going to be armed individuals on school premises they should be trained, POST-certified law enforcement professionals – not educators.

QUESTIONS ABOUT YOU
  1. What food do you hate most?

Lobster.

  1. Do you indulge in recreational marijuana?

No.

  1. Who would play you in a movie about your life?

Tobey Maguire.

  1. What Olympic sport do you wish you could win gold in?

The marathon.

  1. What was your favorite childhood candy?

When I was little, Chuckles.  Then, Three Musketeers. Later, Milky Way.

  1. If you could be an eyewitness to one event in history, what would it be?

Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963.

  1. If the Secret Service gave you a code name, what would it be?

Data.

  1. If you had to sing karaoke, what song would you sing? Car karaoke counts.

Something instrumental – that is, you really don’t want to hear me sing.

  1. What epitaph would you like written on your tombstone?

“Lived the action and passion of his time.”

  1. Is a hot dog a sandwich?

No.  Hot dogs and sandwiches both have their place, but one is not the other.

  1. What is the last concert you attended?

The Pete Lewis Quintet – a jazz group.

  1. What movie do you never tire of watching?

Years ago I watched The Matrix 2-3 times.  I’ve seen Avatar 2-3 times.

  1. Dogs or cats?

Cats.

  1. What’s the most overrated thing about living in Colorado?

Cost of living.  Colorado and the metro area in particular used to be quite affordable compared to other major cities in the country.  That’s really not true anymore. It’s harder and harder to just get by for many people.

Candidate Questions for Richard Bowman
  1. In light of the spate of sexual harassment claims this year, should the Legislature create some kind of fines or other punitive measure for lawmakers deemed guilty of harassment?

For over thirty years I have been studying personnel administration on how to behave around your coworkers.  Fortunately the social repercussions of sexual harassment are becoming severe and can result in termination of employment or removal from public office. Unfortunately, claims of sexual harassment can also be used as a political weapon. Claims of sexual harassment should be handled by the State Attorney General’s office in private so as to not be allowed to become a weapon for political gain.  Individuals guilty of severe or reoccurring sexual harassment should be removed from office as should those who make false accusations.

  1. Should the state cede some control of fracking and gas and oil production to counties and municipalities? How much?  

Gas and oil production has to remain under the guidance of the state to insure a dependable and uniform set of regulations.

  1. Gov. John Hickenlooper has issued an executive order mandating a 26 percent cut in in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, is that too much, too little or adequate? Who is going to pay for this mandate?  Is this going to raise the cost of keeping a home warm during January?

I say that this is arbitrary and will disproportionately raise utility cost for those of us who can least afford it. Simple grandstanding on the part of the Governor. Education and information along with personal economic decisions of citizens should guide “our” individual decisions on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.  Further, those who choose to reduce their greenhouse gases should not be given tax credits to do so.

  1. Several studies show that growth at any level never pays for itself. Should Colorado impose a tax on newcomers, i.e. license plate and other fees?  

Sitting on the citizen’s advisory budget committee for the City of Aurora I have come to discover that it costs the city around $5,000 for each new house built. It should be up to our cities and counties to determine costs to assign to new construction and if they wish to assign additional taxes after a vote by their citizens. The state should have nothing to do with discriminatory taxes and fees for newcomers.

  1. Would you support the red-flag bill that passed the state House this year?

I have listened to arguments by legislators and law enforcement and I agree that firearms should not be in the hands of the mentally ill.  However, “claiming” that someone is mentally ill is no grounds for depriving them of their rights without the due process of law. If someone is mentally ill and poses a risk to themselves or others they should be removed from society and given professional help.  While a “red-flag” bill may appear to be good policy, it is impractical. How do you know where someone has their firearms stored? Not everyone has all their firearms stored at home.

  1. Would you support full tolling on select roads or interstates to help fund road construction?

I support the concept of “you use it you should pay for it.” Though I hate spending around seventy dollars a month for using E-470, I really appreciate having it available (I would appreciate a lot more if there were traffic lights at Gun Club) This could be extended to a transportation sales tax for the movement of goods on the State Highways.  Everyone should become aware that there really is no such thing as “free.”

  1. Should the Legislature work to reduce in-state tuition at state colleges? How?

My Dad helped me with college for my first year.  After my first year I paid for my education as I attended the University of Colorado part-time on and off until I received my degree in Business Administration with  dual majors in Accounting and Finance. While I appreciate the discounted tuition, I have to ask, “Should taxes paid by citizens who choose not to go to college subsidize those who do?”  “Who does a college degree benefit?” “What keeps a college graduate from taking their new earnings potential from moving to another state?” I believe that perhaps not everyone should be required to spend $1,100 on a required elective such as “13th Century Persian Literature.”  Perhaps we should focus on education certificates instead of degrees. In summary, I am not certain that public resources should be used for personal gain unless it is compensation for goods or services rendered for the good of everyone.

  1. Would you support a state path toward some kind of universal or single payer health care in Colorado?

I believe the state must strive to empower our citizens in making the best decisions for themselves. As an example; what if you had an earache?  You actually have choices in health care that perhaps not everyone is aware of and it takes effort to do some shopping. For your earache you could use “telehealth” for around $40. You could visit a “little clinic” in a chain grocery store for around $80.  You could visit an “urgent care” facility for around $140. You could call your personal physician for around $250 or you could go to an “emergency room” for $5000 after sitting around two to three hours to be seen. I do not support single payer health care.  I believe in the power of the free market. Buy the “insurance” you think you need and shop for medical care where you get the best value. I believe that medical providers should be required to post their fees on their websites. By the way, I choose the “little clinic” for my ear ache.  It actually only cost me $56 and the pharmacy was just twenty feet away.

  1. Would you support a bill ending capital punishment in Colorado?

Yes, only if there was a system of allowing prisoners to support their incarceration. Seems to me that a lifetime of free living expenses paid by the Citizens of Colorado doesn’t have the same deterrence of capital punishment.  If there are those in our society who are dead set against capital punishment the least that could be asked is a life sentence of work for the benefit of the Citizens of Colorado.

  1. Would you support a bill to prohibit the use of red-light cameras in Colorado?  

In Aurora, the fines from red-light cameras are used for a number of charitable programs to help those in need.  I really hate red-light cameras. In fact, there is one from Denver on my desk right now. The only legislation I would support to restrict red-light cameras would be to set a standard set of fines and to restrict the use of the revenue generated to charitable programs.

  1. Would you support a bill promoting arming teachers and staff at public schools?

It has been said, “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.”  The logic of this simple statement is inescapable. I am a proponent of FASTER Colorado (Faculty/ Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response) which provides advanced training to faculty and staff, who already have a concealed carry weapon permit.  

QUESTIONS ABOUT YOU

1.What food do you hate most?  

Mostly low calorie. Really hate corn tortillas unless they are deep fried.

  1. Do you indulge in recreational marijuana?  

Nope. I work for a Federal Aviation Administration regulated business.  I voted in support of the legalization of marijuana. I believe that adults can make their own decisions in life.

  1. Who would play you in a movie about your life?  

Hard to say. Based on the haircut and the ability to raise one eye brow I would have to lean to Duane Johnson.  Based on physical attributes I would say either Gabby Hays or Slim Pickens.

  1. What Olympic sport do you wish you could win gold in?  

Biathlon. Ski like the devil is chasing you and then slow down the breathing and heartbeat to shoot a very small target.  I really admire these athletes.

  1. What was your favorite childhood candy?

Snickers.  Still is.

  1. If you could be an eyewitness to one event in history, what would it be?

The resurrection of Jesus Christ.

  1. If the Secret Service gave you a code name, what would it be?

Olde Baldy

  1. If you had to sing karaoke, what song would you sing? Car karaoke counts.

Ghost Riders in the Sky.  Used to sing this while riding my motorcycle.

  1. What epitaph would you like written on your tombstone?

“Here lies a man who could have achieved and seen more in life but was grateful for every blessing he received.”

  1. Is a hot dog a sandwich?

Yes! A sandwich is a dining experience to be consumed with the use of one’s fingers that is served either on or between slices of bread or buns.

  1. What is the last concert you attended?

Willie Nelson.  My girlfriend’s idea. I hate crowds.

  1. What movie do you never tire of watching?

Tossup between “Quigley Down Under” or “Zulu.” One has a hero who stands up for his principles and another where individuals on both sides face an extremely high probability of death and yet they press forward.

  1. Dogs or cats?  

Got both. My Yellow Labrador Retriever Tank takes me for walks every day to keep me healthy and goes with me to work.  Cat Lucy, who I rescued from the middle of E-470 and Colfax when she was a kitten. She keeps my chest warm while watching television. (Pretty uncomfortable when Tank, who weighs 90 pounds, tries to take her place.)

  1. What’s the most overrated thing about living in Colorado?

Mountain solitude.  Unless you have got a week to backpack into the San Juan Mountains you better be prepared for traffic jams and crowds on weekends.