Op-Ed: Andy Eppler – My Voter’s Guide

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in our op-eds, opinions, and letters to the editor published here belong solely to the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Longmont Observer.

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Andy Eppler (Photo courtesy of Andy Eppler)

Here I am once again, sitting in my living room pouring through all the information about the upcoming local election. Every time I sit down to write one of these voters guides, I go through a phase in the beginning where I sort of can’t believe I’m actually doing it. I don’t feel like I am some political genius who has all the answers. In fact, every time I write one of these I have to learn a lot about the local issues. I am not a journalist. I am not a political correspondent. I do not work in the field of politics. I don’t know what my IQ is but I suspect it is just a little above room temperature. I love my community and I choose to use the attention that I have gained through my art to help people feel more informed when elections to come along. Every time I put out a voters guide, most of what I’m doing is summarizing what I read in the official information pack that the city releases and trying to gently give my opinion on the various issues. I usually get very positive response and a lot of readers for these guides and so I feel encouraged to keep producing them. Thank you very much for reading this guide for the 2018 election.

And now some thoughts on the local election and ballot initiatives.

First off, a quickie. I believe Jared Polis is a good choice for governor. From everything I hear Mr. Polis seems like a decent guy who is reasonable and not out of touch with this community. He is a strong proponent for renewable energy and plans to make our state energy industry 100% renewable and independent by 2040. Solid vote here.

Amendment 75:

Campaign contributions are something that I’ve been worried about for a long time. There is a problem with how much money is in the electoral system. People that are wealthy have a huge advantage over an average person running for office. This amendment is aimed at trying to balance that problem. It’s a little complicated in how it works but essentially when a rich candidate puts in $1 million for their campaign their opponents can increase the individual contribution maximum for their fundraising. So, the problem that we are trying to address here is that too much money is in the system and people with a lot of money have an unfair advantage in the elections. It is my opinion that creating a mechanism so that even more money can be dumped into elections is not the right way to fix this problem. If anything, I believe we should be working toward more transparency and less money especially less dark money involved in politics. I recommend a no vote on this amendment.

Proposition 112:

Setback requirements for oil and natural gas development have been a hot issue in Longmont for a long time. Longmont citizens have been very clear about how they feel about oil and gas companies drilling in our neighborhoods and putting our water supply in jeopardy. Oil and gas companies are always trying to find fresh ways to approach the issue to make it seem like a new question. There is a lot of advertising going around about this issue and the advertising makes it seem like in the future where proposition 112 passes, children will not be able to go to school due to budget cuts, thousands of oil workers will be living in the street, and society will degrade into a Mad Max style dystopia. The fact that so much money has been spent on advertising against proposition 112 should let you know exactly where the oil and gas companies stand on it. In my world, anytime the oil and gas companies are spending this kind of money to help me make up my mind, I pay closer attention. This is not a perfect proposition. In fact it’s not even a perfect starting place for where I think our community wants to go with this stuff but it is something. It will begin to help protect our community from big companies who want to exploit our land and leave us poorer for it. Specifically, this amendment would require that new oil and natural gas development be located at least 2500 feet from occupied structures, water sources, and areas designated as vulnerable. It also allows for local governments like Longmont to increase that distance if they choose to. Obviously, the oil and gas industry does not like that idea. As it stands today, they can set up shop 500 feet from your home or a thousand feet from your kids’ school. Proposition 112 increases the setback area to a minimum of 2500 feet. Now, there is an important question about how much oil and gas plays into our economy here in Colorado. It’s true that if we curtail a lot of the growth that that sector has been seeing it will negatively impact our economy on some level. Some of the money we collect from taxes on these companies go toward schools and other services. The companies even say there may be jobs at stake. But that all sounds like basic corporate threatening playbook stuff to me. We get plenty of decent tax revenue from other areas and I believe the will of the people should supersede the will of a business. The second half of the argument coming from the oil and gas industry is that our current regulations are strong enough. In general, I think the citizens of Longmont have shown that they do not agree that current regulations are enough to keep their families safe from being exploited by these companies. In my opinion a yes vote on proposition 112 is appropriate.

Be sure to check out the 2018 state ballot information booklet that the city likely mailed to you this week. Inside you will find all the information you need about everything on your ballot. I covered the two that I think are most interesting to me and I hope you will take it upon yourself to learn more about the other initiatives that you will be voting on.

Ken Buck:

Mr. Buck is currently serving as your representative in Washington. He’s a Republican and prior to serving in Washington he worked as a prosecutor. That’s usually a good sign that a person is intelligent. Buck does seem intelligent and informed about the issues. He supports the president and his policies regarding border security and he also praises Trump for his recent tax cuts. He is definitely standing with the president on most issues.

In a recent debate Buck did go out of his way to say that there should be a zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment or assault in the workplace. Good for him for coming down on the side of decency on that issue in a way that our own president hasn’t. I think it is a shame that we are in the position in our cultural dialogue where Mr. Buck coming out against harassment and assault in the workplace is so refreshing. He did however stand with the rest of his Republican Party in support of Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. Now, I’m sure that Ken Buck is a good guy who is trying to serve the nation in his way and with the methods he believes in. I’m grateful for anyone who is willing to go to Washington and work on behalf of the people to run our nation. I can’t say I will be voting for this candidate because of the awful mess Republicans have made in Congress, the Senate, and the White House. I thought the recent dealings with the supreme court nominee being denied to the previous president and then being rushed through the process with this new president was disgusting. I don’t believe it was for the good of the country and I believe many voters have finally had it proven to them that the Republican Party doesn’t have their best interest at heart. I found their nominee to be pretty objectionable and the blind tribalism that many Republicans in positions of power showcased yet again made me grieve for where we are as a nation. Ken Buck stands with the rest of the Republicans and in that way he is not unique and is completely interchangeable with any other random Republican candidate. I was willing to meet with Mr. Buck and have him on my podcast to give him a platform to speak his mind and let us as a community get to know him on a personal level but he repeatedly refused and ignored my invitations. I was sad about that because I love to talk with people that I disagree with. I don’t want to get into fights but I don’t mind having a respectful argument. The difference of course is that in a fight you are looking to subdue the other side and in an argument you are trying to win the other side over. I love to be won over. I love to find out why my current beliefs are incorrect and I love to release them and open my mind up to fresh possibilities that are somehow closer to the truth. I would have loved to have Mr. Buck on the show and I would’ve loved it even more if he could reasonably talk me into his way of thinking.

Unfortunately, Mr. Buck had zero interest in chatting with me just like he seems to have zero interest in chatting with our newspaper or even our television news correspondents in Denver. Bummer. Maybe he figured I would attack him? Maybe he was wary of being in a long form interview and being asked something he didn’t want to answer? Maybe my show isn’t fancy enough? (My show is definitely not fancy enough no matter who the guest is). If you have ever heard my show “Ando’s Thinky Time podcast” (and thank you to the thousands who are listening to me on my YouTube outlet of the podcast) you are probably aware that my show isn’t at all about fighting but rather it is all about getting to know our community and interacting with interesting ideas. I have politicians on my show regularly and I believe they come on the show because they know they aren’t going to be attacked or even argued with really. They know they will get a chance to explain who they are and why they think the way they do about their job. I would love to talk to Mr. Buck about his job and why he is interested in it and what his vision is for our country.

Unfortunately, all I get to go on is the public record and when I look at the public record Mr. Buck seems like a run of the mill Republican. As an independent voter I would be happy to vote for Republican candidates if their ideas move me.

Right now I feel like the Republican Party as a whole is going through a phase. An uncomfortable, out of step with the times, tone deaf phase. As a party, I feel like things have soured. Because this candidate does not seem to be an independent thinker but rather a follower of political trends I cannot recommend a vote for this guy. I think we should basically let the Republican Party air out for a little while.

Have you ever been in the position where a bad smell was happening in your kitchen and then you found out that the gruesome stench was emanating from some old leftovers that were hiding in the back of your refrigerator? There’s only one thing to do. You throw out the leftovers and you clean the refrigerator. The Republican Party on the national level is that refrigerator and some of the people that are in power there are leftovers from another time that we as a society have moved on from. We deserve a Republican party that has new fresh ideas that are based on the actual needs and will of the people and not just based on the desires of a very few wealthy business owners who want special consideration from the government.

Dr. Karen McCormick:

I often hear people say that we need to get more hard-working, honest, everyday Americans to run for these high-level positions in the government. Dr. Karen McCormick is one of those people who has decided to serve the nation in this way. She’s not a career politician. In fact, she has never held office before. Dr. McCormick was a veterinarian before jumping into this race. Just like Mr. Buck’s job prior to politics told us something about him I believe that Dr. McCormick’s job prior to politics also tells us about her to some extent. She has spent her life caring for the needs of beings that cannot speak for themselves. I think that says a lot about her character.

I have had Dr. McCormick on my podcast two different times now to discuss not only her political beliefs but also her perspective on the world and of course my perspective on our future synthetically intelligent overlords (my favorite topic). When I reached out to her campaign for my first interview with her they got back to me relatively quickly and expressed interest in getting their candidate out in front of the community in this unique way. She came over to my house and recorded for about an hour in my living room. In other words, she was working hard to make sure that our community felt reached out to. It was obvious that she was willing to accept even this relatively small opportunity to talk to our community. I found her to be engaging, intelligent, purposeful, sensitive to the plight of people who are not like her, and open to new ideas. I think all of those are ideal qualities in a candidate for high office. Dr. McCormick is publicly critical of President Trump’s immigration plans and argues that while America does need border security it is our immigration system that is broken. She also disagrees with Trump’s recent tax bill because she feels that it doesn’t help small business owners and it increases the deficit.

Dr. McCormick is an outspoken proponent for equality and protection for women in and out of the workplace.

In a recent debate between Dr. McCormick and Mr. Buck the question of the recent Supreme Court nominee and his sexual assault allegations arose.

Mr. Buck was quoted as saying “had that been reported earlier, we would have had a much more fair – and I’m talking about 25 years, 30 years earlier – we would have a much more fair situation”.

Dr. McCormick was quoted as responding “for too long, since time immemorial, for too long women’s voices have not been heard on an equal level, for too long when we do speak up we are discounted. For too long when we try to come forward we are shoved aside.”

I found it refreshing to hear Dr. McCormick make this point instead of letting it slide in the moment at the debate.

I found the whole Supreme Court nomination scene this year to be quite disgusting. I also of course find sexual assaults and harassment to be disgusting, disheartening, rage inducing, and depressing. I don’t want my vote to be all about those issues. I don’t want my vote to come out of a place of anger but rather out of a place of hope. I believe that when I act out of hope I get better results in the long run. It is, however, on the forefront of my mind as I think about politics this year because it seemed like some politicians were so obviously on the wrong side of history and I just can’t imagine the lack of empathy some of these people seem to be able to reach.

As far as campaign contributions are concerned, I love that Dr. McCormick is not accepting any PAC money for her campaign. I think that that is the right answer for our democracy. It makes me hopeful that politicians are starting to wake up to that idea. It bums me out that Mr. Buck isn’t on the same page. The NRA alone has donated something like $800,000 to Ken Buck’s campaigns over the years and only about 2% of his donations come from individuals. Dr. McCormick is getting about 90% of her donations from individuals. I think it is a bothersome idea that so few actual individuals are backing Mr. Buck and that most of his support is coming from corporate PACs.

So there you go. That’s my opinion on this stuff. I’ll be voting for McCormick. Obviously, I am disgusted by a lot of what the current modern-day Republicans represent and I will be voting to balance the system with more rational ideas by voting for Dr. McCormick. I do want to say one more time that I believe both candidates are decent people trying to do what they think is the right thing. I disagree with one of the candidates and I agree with and appreciate the approach of the other candidate.

Thank you for reading this little guide. I hope you found it informative and not too wordy. Please do make the time to vote even if you disagree with the opinions I laid out here. I believe the system works best when all of our voices are heard. Cheers. See you around the community.

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1 COMMENT

  1. […] Here I am once again, sitting in my living room pouring through all the information about the upcoming local election. Every time I sit down to write one of these voters guides, I go through a phase in the beginning where I sort of can’t believe I’m actually doing it. I don’t feel like I am some political genius who has all the answers. In fact, every time I write one of these I have to learn a lot about the local issues. Continue reading. […]

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