Broomfield residents running for House District 33 tackled questions ranging from reproductive rights and transportation to education and the economy.
Mindy Quiachon, a Republican small business owner, and Matt Gray, the Democrat incumbent, introduced themselves over a Zoom forum Thursday evening hosted by the Broomfield Chamber of Commerce. All the questions were submitted by Broomfield residents before and during the forum.
A copy of the video can be viewed at broomfieldchamber.com and will be available in a few weeks.
The chamber will host another forum 6 p.m. Tuesday for candidates running for State Senate District 23, Barb Kirkmeyer (R) and Sally Boccella (D).
Quiachon, who serves on Broomfield’s Housing Advisory Committee, described herself as someone raised on strong Christian values. She said she has a passion for education and wants to fight for school choice and stand against “anti-God and anti-American indoctrination” that she said is taught in schools and by the media.
Her other priorities are keeping the community safe, health care, transportation and supporting small business, as she and her husband own two UPS stores.
Gray, who was elected to the seat in 2016 and was re-elected for a second term, talked about the difficult year dealing with the pandemic and a tough budget year. He said he is proud of things he and other lawmakers were able to accomplish during that time, including reinvesting $135 million into public education over the next few years.
Last year he helped pass a bill to protect and revamp unemployment insurance, which is important in light of so many workers being affected by the pandemic.
Quiachon said she doesn’t like how the Gallagher Amendment penalizes small business owners with property taxes, but to take it away gives a blank check to legislators.
She criticized House Bill 1420, which Gray sponsored, calling it “devastating” for small business owners. Right now Colorado needs solutions that are going to get the economy going again, she said, and the state doesn’t need to tax small businesses. Quichaon called the $135 million it would generate for education “chump change” as the state used to invest billions.
Gray does support the repeal of Gallagher, saying it will freeze residential assessment rates and won’t raise taxes on anyone since the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) says you can’t raise residential assessment rate without the vote of the people. He pointed to the fact it has support from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers.
Neither candidate said they believed the COVID-19 pandemic is “over.”
Quiachon said the health and safety of her family is her No. 1 priority and she wants to empower people to make the best decisions for their own families. She applauded the way businesses are adapting and innovating in response to the pandemic and she fully trusts those owners. At the same time, they should look at science and data to make sure they’re doing what’s right.
Gray advocated for the need to follow public health advice.
“I don’t like it either,” he said, about the limitations the pandemic has placed on people’s lives. He and his wife enjoy going to the office, but have been working from home and homeschooling their children.
“We’re wishing it was different, but wishing doesn’t’ make it so,” he said. “The virus doesn’t care if we like it or not.”
Listening to scientists and public health officials will help communities climb out of this, he said, and pretending the problem doesn’t exist leads to the problem getting worse.
One question on “personhood” amendments gave the candidates a chance to air their opinions on a woman’s right to choose.
“I believe firmly in reproductive freedom and a woman’s right to make her own decision,” Gray said, adding he opposes House Bill 115, which would prohibit abortions after 22 weeks.
Quiachon said she, more than her opponent, knows how important it is for women to have control over their own bodies.
“At the same time I respect the sanctity of life,” she said.
Right now, women in Colorado can abort up until the time of birth, she said, which is “disgusting to even celebrate. It’s sickening.” She felt that 22 weeks is “perfectly reasonable” with exceptions for the health and welfare of the mother and situations involving rape or incest.
When asked about one time they had to work with others and the outcome wasn’t what they hoped for, but worked for everyone, Quiachon said “every day with my family.”
She talked about having to adapt and maneuver in a house with her husband and three children.
Gray cited oil and gas battles, which have been tough in Broomfield for a number of years.
He talked about working with Lori Saine and Vicki Marble, both Republican lawmakers, and other Democrats to pass the only piece of legislation on forced pooling that both parties could agree on.
“Did I do everything I wanted to? No, not at all,” he said, “but we found common ground and I’m proud to be part of it.”
In her closing comments, Quiachon said she represents the district better than Gray because she is the person he claims supports him — the “suburban soccer mom,” a business owner and a woman.
“I bring balance to this district,” she said. “I’m a constitutionalist, I’m a voice of reason (and) I want to represent all of the people. I don’t feel he’s representative of me, which is why I stepped up to do this.” .
She criticized Gray, claiming he says he’s a moderate but votes along party lines; that he wants to increase taxes on business and eliminate TABOR.
Gray spent his closing remarks talking about the families and the work still left to do for them, including work on housing, education and health care.
“I do this because I want to try and improve the lives of people in House District 33, and across the state,” Gray said. “I’m honored to have been trusted with the responsibility. I hope to be entrusted with that responsibility again.”