Democrat Carlos Lopez is running to replace term-limited Republican Sen. Larry Crowder in Colorado’s 35th senate district, which encompasses large geographical areas in the southern and southeastern parts of the state. He faces Republican Cleave Simpson in the race.

What motivates you to run for office?

I am motivated to run for office because I feel that southern Colorado has been neglected for too long. My peers down here struggle to keep a middle class way of life. Their options are to settle for less while working more or move away to a higher paying community with higher expenditures, just so their kids can get the opportunities that others have in the cities. I truly believe that better legislation that distinctly provides either funding or social relief to those who are disenfranchised is not only necessary, but long overdue.

What experience do you have that makes you qualified for the job?

I have been on the Trinidad City Council for the past four years.  We have made some great strides here in Trinidad that is finally getting recognized by people up in the Denver area. I know that I can take this background in budgeting from a micro level to a macro level. We have successfully balanced our budgets all four years I was in council. In fact, we have even have a small surplus. This wasn’t something stated from previous councils.

Colorado’s 35th Senate District

What are your top three policy issues, and how would you address those issues if elected? 

I would love to see more funding in education, innovative technologies that create 21st-century economic opportunities and improved rural health care funding. 

  1. I know that our Department of Education has been giving up money for other areas of the budget for too long. I would write new legislation that would reverse these old practices and pump resources into, in my opinion, our biggest infrastructural need… our youth. We can’t have bright, well-informed citizens if we are chopped at the knees financially by poor budgeting for our kids.
  2. I would love to pressure the Joint Budget Committee to start implementing new spending practices towards our public higher educational systems that promote innovative technology towards green, lucrative industries. I feel that our community and junior colleges would be great institutions to start these programs as most vocational schools are a two-year program. This would also help improve the lives of our blue-collar citizens who are in decline as it is.  We can tackle our climate change challenges while providing good-paying jobs. The Rural Jump Start program is a great start but it needs more funding.
  3. In order to improve our health care providers in rural Colorado, we need to set aside money from our Department of Health Care Policy and Financing. I would like to create legislation that opens up funding opportunities for non-profit health care providers so they can work in conjunction with the traditional for-profit entities. Essentially, this would create subsidies for the brick and mortar hospitals so that way more care can be given to people that have less money, yet are not eligible for Medicaid. This would help rural hospitals stay open while providing quality care and hopefully, giving the care the patients need so they don’t have to be shipped off to city hospitals. 

What key issues set you apart from your opponent? Where do you most closely align?

My opponent and I are different in many regards. He is an older gentleman who has made a career in the fossil fuel industry. I am a younger man who is looking towards new forms of renewable energy forms to catapult Colorado into the future. I am a big fan of geothermal, wind and solar power. I am also a big supporter of carbon capturing technology.  

To my knowledge, my opponent has never held an elected position and would be learning on the job. He has been the executive director for the Rio Grande Water Conservancy District for the past four years; but they are having a lot of issues that are being recognized by the State Engineer for the Department of Water Resources, Kevin Rein. This is a division of the Department of Natural Resources.

As to our policy differences, I am not quite sure. He hasn’t stated any policy issues that are concerning to him other than the water situation in the San Luis Valley. I do agree with him on this topic as I know that the water here in southern Colorado has always been of vital importance to our agricultural communities as the lifeblood to their economic survival. It is early in the campaign, so I’m sure he will eventually bring forward policy issues.  

If you could snap your fingers and make one law in Colorado, what would it be?

If I could make instant legislation it would be providing more funding for public school teachers. I know they work very hard in a field that is emotionally rewarding, but not always financially. 

Learn more about Carlos Lopez on his campaign website.

Read about Lopez’s Republican opponent here.