Written By: Josh Speer
It is the 2016 election season here in the United States of America. Though the presidential race has hogged most of the media spotlight, it isn’t the only political race we should concern ourselves with. We also have the U.S. Senate, Colorado State Senate, U.S. House, State House, as well as both state and local-level judges. In this article, I will elaborate on the experience and policy proposals of Colorado U.S. Senate candidates Democrat Michael Bennet, Republican Darryl Glenn, Libertarian Lily Tang Williams, and Green Party candidate Arn Menconi.
Of the one hundred total seats in the United States Senate, fifty-four are currently held by Republicans, forty-four by Democrats, and two by independents. Thirty-four of these seats are up for election. Twenty-four seats are currently held by Republicans, but in order to maintain their majority hold of the senate, they would have to win at least twenty-one of these back; while their Democratic counterparts would only have to win fifteen to gain the majority. Colorado is one of the ‘likely Democratic’ states, with Michael Bennet (D) running for re-election.
Senior U.S. Senator, Michael Farrand Bennet, was born on November 28, 1964 in New Delhi, India, while his father was serving as an aide to Chester Bowles, then U.S. ambassador to India. He grew up in Washington D.C. and earned a B.A. in history from Wesleyan University in 1987, then went on to earn his law degree from Yale Law School in 1993. Throughout Bennet’s career, he has served as Counsel to U.S. deputy attorney general, the managing director of Anschutz Investment Co., Chief of staff to the mayor of Denver, as well as Superintendent at Denver Public Schools. Ever since November 2010, he has served as a U.S. Senator from Colorado. In the U.S. Senate, Bennet serves on the Finance Committee, Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and the Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee.
Bennet took what information he gathered from more than twenty sessions of listening to Coloradans in the industry and helped write the 2014 Farm Bill. The point of this bill was to “cut red tape by consolidating, streamlining, and improving dozens of programs that support rural communities and provide risk management and marketing tools for producers.” He is currently working with Republican Sen. Cory Gardner to reform some outdated tax provisions which they claim is hindering investment in water and irrigation infrastructure. He is pushing to open up foreign markets to agricultural products raised in the state of Colorado. Bennet is also continuing work on the improvement of wildfire fighting methodology by securing provisions in the Farm Bill to improve the health of the forest, as well as the increase of mitigation and suppression efforts.
The exponentially rising cost of college is another major area of concern for Bennet. He has fought to increase funding for Pell grants, proposed legislation to increase funding for the American Opportunity Tax Credit that helps students pay for the costs of tuition and supplies, and is a supporter of income-based student loan repayment as well as the notion that all citizens should be able to refinance their student loans in the same way that one would a mortgage or car loan. He has also helped introduce a bipartisan bill, along with Sen. Lamar Alexander, that would dramatically reduce the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) from 108 questions to just two that could fit on a note card. This would save students a lot of time and frustration, as they are often discouraged from filling out the form. To learn more about this candidate and his platform, visit his campaign website or check him out on social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook.
American politician, small businessman, and lawyer, Darryl LeMon Glenn (R), was born on October 10, 1965 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1988 and went on to serve in the U.S. Air Force for more than twenty years of combined active duty and reserve military service, retiring in 2009 as a Lieutenant Colonel. While in college, he was a three-time national collegiate powerlifting champion. During his military career, he was awarded many accolades, including the Meritorious Service Medal. He has served two elected terms on the Colorado Springs City Council and is currently serving his second term as the El Paso County Colorado District 1 Commissioner, a position which he was reelected to with 80% of the vote in 2014.
Glenn considers himself a fiscal and constitutional conservative, and tax reform being a key issue on his platform. He believes that reforming the tax policy is “critical to restoring our economic growth, job creation, and international competitiveness,” critiquing our currently overly complex system that favors winners to losers, while creating a disincentive for personal savings and investments. In his view, taxes should be used to fund services that are authorized by the constitution rather than unnecessary and ineffective programs. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is one of the programs of which he is most critical. It is one of the biggest differences between him and Sen. Michael Bennet, who is a supporter of the ACA. His campaign website states the following:
“Our tax system must be transformed around two basic elements: simplicity and neutrality. We need to focus on adopting a fair or flat tax policy that positively impacts job creation and promotes innovation without penalizing personal savings and investments.”
On the topic of education, Glenn believes that the millions of dollars sent to the Federal Department of Education should be returned to the state so that parents, teachers, and superintendents have the freedom to make choices that direct the education of their kids. Of course, he isn’t advocating for the elimination of any funds out of education. But, rather, putting it in the hands of local Colorado families and teachers instead of central planners out of Washington D.C. To learn more about this candidate, visit his campaign website or check him out on social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook.
Lily Tang Williams
Lily Tang Williams (L) grew up in Chengdu, capital of western China’s Sichuan province, right before the onset of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. She earned her B.S. in law from Fudan University (one of China’s top five universities) in 1985 and completed her M.S. in social work at the University of Texas at Austin in 1991. She has practiced law in China, taught as a law professor at Fudan University for many years, worked as a social worker and corporate executive, and since 2001 has owned her own consulting and trading business.
Williams is strongly outspoken on the topic of centralized government. Insisting that government must get out of the way of businesses and entrepreneurs alike, so that more private sector jobs can be created and the economy can achieve growth as a result of embracing the free market principles of supply and demand. She often makes reference to the Communist government she grew up under and hellish, impoverished conditions the Chinese people have endured as a result. Her website states that “all efforts by government to redistribute wealth, or to control or manage trade, are improper and immoral in a free society.” She supports a limited, constitutional government and intends to “fight the tendency for it to grow beyond its legitimate purpose.” Williams also takes a strong stance against the erosion of civil liberties, the military industrial complex and its war on terror, the war on drugs, and the police state we’re slowly becoming.
Education is another area where she takes a strong stance against centralization. She opposes the “top-down, one-size fits all” structure of Common Core. She argues that there are too many special interests involved for the government to be controlling education and that the government will try to influence students on what to think, rather than how. On her website, she states the following:
“Constitutionally speaking, education is still a state prerogative, and education by parents and local communities only fall under state jurisdiction. I am for parental control and school choices (vouchers, home schools, etc.) as well as teacher market-based pay.”
This is the conventional Libertarian, free-market approach to education that is widely known as school choice. Which boils down to essentially the allowance of public funds to follow students to the schools and services that best fit their individual needs. Learn more about her plans by visiting her campaign website or check her out on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
Arn Menconi (G) was born in 1959 in Chicago, Illinois. He earned his undergraduate in Communications at Depaul University and his M.B.A. at the University of Denver. He founded the Snowboard Outreach Society (SOS Outreach) in 1993, a nonprofit organization that provides funding and activities for at-risk youth. The program now runs at over thirty ski areas across fifteen different states. Menconi served as Eagle County Commissioner from 2000 to 2008 and was one of just three commissioners to oversee an annual budget of $100 million. He has served on a number of non-profit boards and has worked on community development initiatives that included long-term economic planning, affordable housing, and early childhood development. He has also been heavily involved in activism events over the years.
Menconi has not only made ‘No More War’ a central theme of his activism, but also his platform as a politician. He advocates ending foreign aid to countries except for in the case of a humanitarian crisis. He also wants to “cut the huge, bloated, wasteful military budget,” as well as abolish our nuclear weapons program. Not only does he advocate the abolition of nuclear weapons, but also nuclear power. He wants to push the country towards embracing solar energy above all. This goes hand in hand with his commitment to implement a ban on fracking, adopt a carbon pollution tax, and get the country off of fossil fuels 100% by the year 2050.
He would be considered ‘far left’ on many of his other policies: making college free, granting amnesty to undocumented workers, criminal justice reform, and increasing minimum wage to $15. Menconi also advocates to open up the presidential debates, as well as putting an end to ballot access obstructionism that is designed the exclude people and control election outcomes.
In conclusion, each of these candidates brings something different to the table, and they range from all over the political spectrum. There is some comparisons and cross-overs on policy ideas, but there is a whole lot of contrast. Whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green Party, or are an independent voter, it is important to evaluate these candidates’ backgrounds and policy proposals carefully and think critically before exercising your right to vote.