Maureen Shul, President of the Castle Pines North Master Association introducing Bill Winter and Ted Harvey
by Lisa Crockett
In a scene reminiscent of an old-fashioned town hall, the Castle Pines North (CPN) Master Association hosted a “2006 Election Candidate Forum” and invited several candidates for public office. (see names of candidates , their respective political parties and offices sought in the sidebar below.)
The event was held at the CPN Community Center and boasted an attendance of more than 85 people from all over Douglas County.
“This was an amazing turnout,” said Bill Winter, the democratic Congressional candidate for District 6, as well as a CPN resident. “It’s really encouraging to see so many people involved.”
After each candidate gave a brief opening statement, the forum was opened for attendees to ask questions. Candidates were allowed to give a three-minute answer, followed by a one-minute response from their opponent.
Questions ran the gamut from immigration policy to road rage, but education largely dominated the evening’s discussion.
CPN resident Norb Cygan, a retired geologist who volunteers his time in various public schools, attended the event. “You hear candidates talk about education in general terms, and I wanted to know some specifics about science education.”
Other residents wanted to hear candidate’s plans for improving the quality of education, while many had concerns about education spending.
The discussion then turned to immigration issues and water rights, but then veered back to education once again regarding the issue of school safety—a matter of timely importance after the events of the past few weeks.
“It’s wonderful to see such strong participation from the audience,” said CPN Master Association president Maureen Shul. “Judging from the turnout we had tonight, it’s obvious that people are hungry to learn more about our candidates for public office.”
Shul has plans to continue the tradition of hosting candidates – not only when they are running for office, but after they are elected as well. She has invited all the candidates to return to a similar forum following the election to answer questions from CPN constituents.
“Our elected officials are responsible to meet with and know those they represent,” she said. “This forum is a way for them to do that.”
What They Said:
Candidates answered questions for nearly two hours. Here are a few highlights:
Bill Winter (D), Congressional candidate for District 6: “We expect our teachers to be trained like doctors and lawyers, but then we pay them like cab drivers. We need to be able to attract the teachers who can keep us competitive in math and the sciences.”
Ted Harvey (R), representing Tom Tancredo, running for Congress: “Tom Tancredo has been a leader on [the issue of] illegal immigration, which is overwhelming our system.”
Barbara O’Brien candidate for Lieutenant Governor (D), representing Bill Ritter, running for Governor: “The promise of Colorado is our children. We need to improve education and get to a point where healthcare is affordable again.”
Frank McNulty (R), representing Bob Beauprez, running for Governor: “This election is about leadership. Bob Beauprez has the ability to tackle tough issues; it is critical to elect a governor who can lead us into the next decade.”
Victor Mitchell (R), running for State Representative, District 45: “I believe I can make a difference. I believe that I have a God-given talent to get things done, to build consensus and adhere to standards. . . I think it’s time to introduce market-based principles to our public schools.”
Linda Constantine (D), running for State Representative, District 45: “Here in Colorado, our public school performance is not up to the national average. We live in a global economy; we need to be sure our kids can compete.”
David Weaver (R), running for Douglas County Sheriff: “Things are changing in Douglas County. When I started work here as a peace officer 25 years ago, there were 22,000 people. Now there are 270,000. The sheriff has to be fluid and have the ability to respond to rapidly changing needs, to use resources wisely.”
Laura Harper O’Donnell (D), running for Douglas County Sheriff: “We want people to feel safe in their homes. It’s easy to fall into a routine of moving from crisis to crisis, but I believe it’s better to set out a plan and then follow it.”