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Eye on the Fifth

By Daniel Smith


The election is about two months off, and it’s a bit quiet in the Fifth Congressional District race between incumbent Republican Doug Lamborn and Democratic challenger Stephany Rose Spaulding.

Voters may wonder whether a debate might be in the works; well, nothing yet.

Last month I wrote about surprises; the infighting of the five-way GOP primary race and the strength of Spaulding’s vote tally for the Democrats.

In this column, I presented three very general questions to both sides, hoping to get some defining contrasts on the record for public review:

Please list the top three priorities for the district you would like to see addressed in the near future.


What do you see as the three top national priorities to be addressed by Congress?

What would you propose as a lawmaker to try to end the legislative gridlock/partisanship in congress?

Here are the responses from Stephany Rose Spaulding:

District Priorities

Cost of Living:

“Just two years ago, the cost of living in the region was about seven percent below the national average, but today, it’s more expensive to live here than other cities of the same size. Housing costs, whether you own or rent, are the major culprit, putting financial pressure on families whose wages have barely budged. As a result, people with full-time jobs can’t make ends meet, and too many live in poverty. Our political, business and community leaders must work with greater urgency to find affordable housing and employment training solutions that work for more of our people.”


“Research shows that a lack of sustained commitment to adequately funding education, repairing our crumbling roads and bridges and ensuring that rural areas receive the same broadband access that our big cities take for granted, will harm quality of life for all of us. Our leaders’ hit or miss approach to tackling these problems also means our children won’t be able to compete in a 21st century economy.”


“We are blessed to call this beautiful region home, but as temperatures rise, and frequent droughts and wildfires become the “new normal,” we must take our stewardship of this special place to a new level of innovation. Our people deserve outstanding fire safety and watershed quality programs that don’t just mitigate issues as they arise, but also reduce the potential for problems in the future.”

National Priorities

Immigration Reform:

“There’s bipartisan agreement that our immigration system is broken. But pathways to U.S. citizenship must be humane and transparent. Research indisputably shows that immigrants increase our nation’s cultural, economic and social capital. Of course, we must prioritize the extradition of criminals who endanger our people, but as a nation whose very founding was based on the value of welcoming the oppressed, we must also provide asylum to families facing life-threatening danger at home. I will also work across the aisle with my colleagues in Congress to finalize legislation that will ensure that DACA recipients – without fear of deportation – can continue to be productive members of our society.

National Security:

“Most members of Congress, regardless of party affiliation, agree that Russia meddled in our 2016 elections and are taking steps to interfere in the upcoming midterm elections. Congress must do everything it can, working in collaboration with state governments, to ensure that the havoc caused by a foreign adversary intent on undermining our democracy never happens again. Trust in the integrity of our elections is the bedrock of our democracy. As patriots, we must do everything we can to defend it.”


“The dream of thriving as part of a booming middle class seems beyond the reach of too many Americans. Older people are working longer than ever before, afraid they’ll outlive their savings. Younger workers have given up on ever achieving the level of comfort and security their parents enjoyed. And our exploding national debt isn’t helping. At the end of 2017, Congress passed a tax bill that most economists agree will increase the national deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next decade. Corporations and the wealthiest Americans scored a big payday, while families struggling to make ends meet were left to fend for themselves. This is an issue in which lawmakers on both sides of the aisle can find common ground. Now is the time to get the job done.”

Ending legislative gridlock/partisanship in Congress:

“Congress has failed to do its job for too many years because our lawmakers are putting politics over people. We didn’t send them to Washington, DC to play a never-ending game of partisan “gotcha.” Meanwhile, serious issues like healthcare costs, stagnant wages and lack of access to a quality education are ignored. We need to send champions to DC who will work for all of our people, not the privileged few. There was a time when it was common for our leaders to work across the aisle to build consensus for solutions that our people desperately need. But now lawmakers receive full salaries despite the constant gridlock. Maybe it’s time to ask Congress to be accountable for their lack of results. How about a pay freeze for poor performance?” – Stephany Rose Spaulding

I was told by Lamborn’s Washington D.C. office he was traveling and wouldn’t be available for an interview, but perhaps might be available later.

I asked for interviews from both candidates after the primaries, but only was able to conduct one, with Ms. Spaulding.

Receiving no response from Lamborn’s D.C. office on these three basic questions, I was left only with one of the latest the cut-and-dried press releases that have been issued with increased frequency since the close-call GOP primary election. Here it is:

Washington D.C. – A recently completed economic impact study of the Colorado defense sector shows Department of Defense (DoD) and corresponding activities produce a $36.6 billion economic impact on Colorado’s economy.  The data shows the state’s defense sector is a significant economic driver, especially in smaller counties across the state. Employment and incomes, sales, and tax revenues are all enhanced by DoD activities, especially when factoring income from military retiree and veteran pensions and compensation.

Upon release of the report, Congressman Lamborn, a senior Member of the Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement:

“As this report proves, there can be no doubt that communities across Colorado gain a tremendous amount of benefits from the state’s robust defense sector. Thanks to the appeal of our community and the welcoming, patriotic nature of our residents, we have been able to attract many different units, missions, and defense-related companies – in fact, Colorado Springs is one of the most-requested duty stations in the military. Many come to Colorado for a defense-related job and, upon retiring, remain as valued members of our community where their benefits continue driving the economy. And the fact so many of our Military missions and Defense-related industries are in forward-looking and growing technologies such as Space, Cyber, Missile Defense, Artificial Intelligence, Manufacturing, and Nano-Technology bodes well for the future of this sector in Colorado. The economic impact of defense spending has diversified our culture and our economy, bringing us professional, skilled, service-oriented men and women. It brings us good-paying job opportunities, in and out of uniform, which have driven cutting edge programs in our universities, healthcare industry, and created cross-industry synergies throughout the state. As this report shows, our defense sector benefits all Coloradans.”

Not exactly earth-shaking news, but it’s what I and other media had available.

Hoping to get responses from both candidates regarding more policy topics for next issue. Hopefully, both sides will contribute to give voters in the southern end of the district some information for comparison.

Think we need a debate? 

Daniel Smith is a former Denver newspaper and broadcast journalist who retired to Salida for freelance writing, photography, relaxation and finding time to lie about fly fishing.