On Friday, August 28, 2020, Democratic Candidates for public office spoke to an audience inside the Southern Colorado Mining Museum. The candidates included:
- Luis López, unopposed candidate for County Commissioner;
- Carlos López, Luis’ brother and candidate for State Senate District #35 (running against Cleave Simpson);
- Ike McCorkle, candidate for US House of Representatives, 4th Congressional District (running against Ken Buck); and,
- Dean Ormiston, candidate for State House District #64 (running against Richard Holtorf).
Luis López addressed homelessness in Trinidad. López stated that the problem was due to inadequate mental healthcare, leading to the homeless being incarcerated rather than receiving treatment. Prompted by a member of the audience, López said he wanted to see a housing-first model of providing services to the homeless, even if those homeless people use drugs or alcohol on site.
López concluded by asking voters to consider a ballot measure authorizing fund usage under the Colorado Tabor decision. The measure would allow Las Animas County to keep the extra money from a recent tax increase, specifically stating that it wanted to use a $1.1 million overage from county expenses.
Carlos López began with a discussion of the Youth Club of Trinidad program he worked on while on the Trinidad City Council and how he wanted to expand this program to all children from kindergarten to 12th grade. López wanted to work on vocational education with local junior colleges. He said he believed this would prevent or reduce the exodus of young adults from the region. Related to this program, he also stated he wanted to seek assistance from the Colorado Department of Transportation to obtain reliable and high-speed broadband internet for the region. López expressed concern with the lack of modernization of infrastructure in rural communities. “We need to have that desire because otherwise, we’re not going to make it; we’re going to continue to see retirement communities turn into ghost towns,” López stated.
Lastly, López favored improving rural health care in Trinidad, arguing that the only way someone could give birth in Trinidad would be in a local emergency room rather than in an obstetrics unit. Said López, “How do we grow young families if we can’t start them in our rural hospitals?”
McCorkle began his presentation by highlighting his military career with the United States Marine Corps. He was injured in an attack in 2005 that left one of his vocal cords paralyzed, resulting in his reedy voice. McCorkle then moved on to discuss his desire to eliminate lobbying and campaign contributions.
McCorkle asserted that 80% of the United States is living paycheck to paycheck. He stated he wanted to see Federal benefits programs provide financial assistance to those living paycheck-to-paycheck, particularly given the impact of COVID-19.
McCorkle said he wanted to see a growth in sustainable/renewable energy, to address what he described as a global environmental catastrophe un-addressed. In response to questions, McCorkle said he wanted to see the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy to be subsidized. McCorkle also wants federal funding for the transition of employees from the coal, oil, and gas industries into the renewable energy industry. McCorkle envisioned a return to the New Deal programs instituted by Franklin Roosevelt. He compared an envisioned “energy works project” organization to the Works Projects Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps from the Great Depression.
McCorkle tackled the politically charged question of Black Lives Matter and the protection of people from police brutality. First, McCorkle explained, he wanted to see an end to providing military equipment to local law enforcement agencies. McCorkle wanted to develop law enforcement training based on the rules of engagement training provided to the military (so-called “shoot-no shoot” drills). He also stated he wanted to reform the legal doctrine of qualified immunity provided to law enforcement.
McCorkle stated he was a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. He stressed that school shootings could be prevented if there was a national safe storage legislation that required gun safes with biometric locks (provided, McCorkle explained, by the Federal government).
McCorkle is in favor of a single-payer Medicare-for-all system that would provide mental and physical healthcare to all citizens.
Ormiston began his talk by expressing frustration with the current preoccupation with racism. “Race, race, race,” commented Ormiston before a visibly uncomfortable audience, “Are you a racist? Well, we got to remember we’re Americans is [sic] what we are. We’re not any color, we’re Americans.” Ormiston continued to state that he wanted to see race and gender stricken from job applications.
When asked about the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, Ormiston stated he was against the government using the legal tactic of eminent domain for the site and said he wanted to see the government negotiate for the land at a fair market price. Eminent domain, a legal doctrine that allows a government to take land and other property, has been a legal practice since 1066. Contrary to Ormiston’s statement, payment of fair market value has been the law since 1215, with the signing of the Magna Carta, and has been ratified in the US by the Supreme Court in Kohl v. United States, 91 US 367 (1875).
Ormiston stated he wanted to do away for protections under the Endangered Species Act and wanted to prohibit wolf reintroduction, arguing that the time for endangered species had passed in accordance with the Bible. Ormiston advocated for controlling the population of coyotes, prairie dogs, and wolves to protect ranchers.
The event ended with a speaker discussing a ballot initiative that would expand Colorado paid family leave for more than just maternity leave, incorporating paternity leave, bereavement leave, and other situations.