MEG FOSSINGER

Campaign website: megforcolorado.com

Biography

  • I graduated from Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs and completed my Bachelors degree in Sociology at UNC in Greeley. I have been in the social work field for nearly 15 years, serving on the front lines of our community. I am also involved with a number of community organizations, including the American Red Cross, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and Hear, Here Poetry. 

Why do you want this job?

  • As a social worker, my primary role is to connect individuals with the resources they need to be successful in the community and to ensure their needs are met. Far too often, individuals fall through the cracks because there are not enough programs, the admission process is too lengthy, or there isn’t a program that can meet the person's need. 

  • I am running for office because we deserve a government that works for the people. We deserve evidence-based programs that support the most vulnerable and that provide an opportunity for upward mobility. 

  • For far too long, we have been failing at living up to our promise of, “justice for all.” I am committed to fighting for a more just society by focusing on environmental justice, economic justice, educational justice, social justice, and criminal justice reform.

Budgeting in tough times 

(Choose one to answer)

> What is one bill you plan to sponsor that won't cost taxpayers anything?

> What new ideas do you bring in a time of budget cuts?

  • In the last few years, we have seen thousands of taxpayer dollars going to defend government officials against campaign finance violations. When found to have committed these violations, the government officials are often fined minimal amounts, much less than the cost spent by taxpayers to defend them. I have spoken to various legislators about a bill that would require government officials to pay back the taxpayer funds spent to defend them if they are found to have been unethical. If elected, I will sponsor this bill. 

  • Campaign finance laws can be tricky and mistakes happen. Accountability matters though and I expect our elected officials to not waste tax-payer dollars to fight against valid complaints. 

Perennial budget issues

(Choose one to answer)

> How do we pay for education?

> How do we pay for transportation?

  • I do not believe that the TABOR and Gallagher Amendments are serving our state well at this point, and it is important that we take a critical look at both of them. Education funding is one of my top priorities. By investing in a strong educational system, we will lower crime rates, increase opportunity, and have a stronger community overall. 

  • I do not envy the difficult decisions our state legislators faced this year as they recognized the cuts that needed to take place. I was surprised to see that the Marijuana Gray/Black Market Diversion Enforcement program continued to receive over $1 million in funds. We need to go line by line through the budget. Given the choice between schools having an extra million dollars or investing home grows, I believe most of us would prioritize schools. 

Issues of the pandemic

(Choose one to answer) 

> Is the state reopening too quickly or too slowly?

> Are health care reforms an immediate priority?

> What are the best steps to rebuilding the economy? 

  • Health care reform must be an immediate priority. I am proud of the state legislature for passing paid sick leave this year, to ensure that all workers in Colorado are able to receive paid time off, but we must also address the access to affordable health care. Far too many people are without coverage or are unable to afford their co-pays, resulting in delayed treatment, the rationing of medications, bankruptcy, and even death. By taking a multi-faceted approach, we can control costs and ensure that every person has access to the care they need.

Working together

(Choose one to answer)

> What is an idea or approach your primary opponent has proposed that you intend to take to the Capitol?

> Name a current or former legislator from the opposing party you admire, and why.

  • I admire State Senator Bob Gardner (Republican). In full disclosure, I have known him for over 20 years, but that does not mean we often agree on policy. We do agree on the need to reform the criminal justice system, and State Senator Gardner has co-sponsored a number of bills with State Senator Pete Lee that increase police accountability, invest in restorative justice, and provide support to individuals who are transitioning out of the criminal justice system. I am grateful for his work in this area.


SUSAN CRUTCHFIELD

Campaign website: crutchfield4co.com

Biography

  • Born in Texas and raised in Tennessee, Susan graduated Cum Laude from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor of Science in Sociology in December of 2012. Sociology has so far been an excellent foundation for participating in politics — as studies evaluate policies in place and identify key strengths and weaknesses, as well as identifying needs within the community. In March of 2013, Susan relocated to Colorado Springs. Since arriving in Colorado, Susan has worked with various winning political campaigns as well as started a small business from the ground up. After successfully running her business for a year, Susan decided to spend time with her family after the birth of her son in 2016.  Ready for success again, Susan is now running for State House District 20. 

Why do you want this job?

  • I want this job because I have always seen ways that we could be doing better as a society. The recent crises of COVID-19 and police brutality highlight the many areas where we are not spending our tax dollars wisely. Contributions from citizens should be going to the benefit of citizens. Instead, our tax money is often spent on inefficient programs that don't solve the problems they were intended to solve. For example, we spend hundreds of millions of dollars annually on incarceration, and we still have a huge issue with crime. If increasing tax dollars to police and prisons worked to reduce crime we wouldn't have the problems we have now with having car windows being smashed at trail heads and on neighborhood streets, or with home invasions, or domestic violence. Sociological studies show us that there are programs that do effectively reduce crime - namely restorative justice programs, mental health care availability and social safety nets for when people fall on hard times. 

  • I want this job because I want to do my part in being a part of the "by us, for us" government, and apply my years of learning and studying to improving the quality of life in our state. I have been spending a majority of my spare time, since my teenage years in college, reading studies and news articles to find the newest and best methods of problem-solving at the government level. I would love to be able to bring my knowledge and spirit of innovation to Denver, and I hope the voters of house district 20 see the value in a representative who wants to both affect social change and be a good steward of our tax money.

Budgeting in tough times 

(Choose one to answer)

> What is one bill you plan to sponsor that won't cost taxpayers anything?

> What new ideas do you bring in a time of budget cuts?

  • My ideas for budget cuts are to eliminate or reduce spending on things where we are not seeing results and shift what spending we can afford to areas that do produce results. I would like to shift money away from incarceration and towards restorative justice and mental health programs, because those have a proven return. I would like to continue investing in affordable housing and housing first initiatives as well, since studies show that when people have sufficient support to flourish they are much more likely to be gainfully employed and pay more taxes back into the system. I also would like to address how our money is being spent in education. I am concerned that our education spending is very top heavy - the administrators and school board members have salaries two to five times higher than the highest paid teachers. We also spend $78 million annually on standardized testing - which teachers, parents and students alike abhor as a stressful distraction and an unhelpful benchmark. Since the beginning of my campaign, long before COVID hit, I have been focused on the financial aspect and on investing our money as a way of both solving social problems and increasing future tax revenue. The budget cuts may make this more difficult to do, but certainly not impossible, and it has driven me even more to find the best solutions. I am the kind of person who loves rising to a challenge, and if elected by the voters of house district 20, I fully intend to step up and help conquer this one.

Perennial budget issues

(Choose one to answer)

> How do we pay for education?

> How do we pay for transportation?

  • I propose that we pay for education by restructuring how we spend the money that is currently being allocated for education. I propose that we freeze administrative salaries to protect the salaries of teachers, who are shouldering the majority of the burden of labor in our schools. I also think we should look into consolidating school districts for efficiency. There is no reason that I can see to have so many in one city - all with their own high salaried administrative offices. For reference, the D20 superintendent currently brings home a salary of $225,000, while teachers with PhDs are topped out at $53,000. 

  • I also think we should look for a way to remove state standardized testing. When we canceled the testing for 2020 due to COVID-19, we saved $78 million. When looking at education spending, I believe that we need to focus on putting the money we do have to the best use - by paying teachers fairly and providing support services for students - and cut the budget in areas that are becoming wasteful and unproductive - like spending tens of millions of dollars annually on standardized testing.

  • I would ultimately like to find a way to pay our education bills without instituting any new taxes during a financial crisis. If more than restructuring current funding is needed, I would propose asking voters to approve issuing general obligation bonds or revenue anticipation notes to cover the bill. This is something that would allow us a little more time to pay our education bills rather than having to cut necessary services to children. Another idea is to continue using any future COVID related relief money from the federal government, if there is any, to help fill the holes in the education budget - as Governor Polis is already doing.

Issues of the pandemic

(Choose one to answer) 

> Is the state reopening too quickly or too slowly?

> Are health care reforms an immediate priority?

> What are the best steps to rebuilding the economy? 

  • I think Governor Polis is doing a very good job watching the data and determining how far we can go in reopening while staying safe. We are seeing spikes now in many states who reopened very quickly, while the numbers in Colorado are trending down. I am hopeful that our success will continue as we look at reopening bars, and other businesses that are currently still closed, over the next few weeks.

  • Health care reforms are a priority for me as a voter, but I would much prefer a stronger national system over a state run exchange,  as a national system would have a larger pool of both patients and funding. At the state level, my main healthcare concern at this time would be protecting the spending we already put towards healthcare while waiting for action on the federal level.

  • In my opinion, the best steps to rebuilding the economy are to ensure basic needs first. I would make it a priority to keep people housed, as studies show that it can be very difficult to regain housing once lost. I would propose a freeze on rent and mortgages for as long as business closures last. I would also support continuing with relief funding on the individual and small business levels, and with continuing to supplement unemployment. I think that this is also a good time to turn towards more sustainable energy sources, as a new and growing industry that can provide jobs. We can also invest in our infrastructure to provide jobs, which is an idea with a proven track record of pulling us out of hard times - while simultaneously providing the benefit of improving our roads, bridges and public transportation systems. 

Working together

(Choose one to answer)

> What is an idea or approach your primary opponent has proposed that you intend to take to the Capitol?

> Name a current or former legislator from the opposing party you admire, and why.

  • I admire Terri Carver, the Republican legislator who holds the seat for district 20 now. I really appreciate her work on mental health, human trafficking and child pornography. Those are all causes I will champion for district 20 as well, if elected. The reason I am running to oppose her is because we diverge on other important issues, but in these three areas I very much respect and admire her work. Terri has a strong record of voting in favor of mental health, and only voted against one bill which would have made mental health care easier for minors to access. She has also done great work fighting human trafficking, and has worked with some of my own friends on that very important and bipartisan issue. Finally, she increased incarceration for charges related to child pornography - and pedophilia is one of the crimes for which I fully support incarceration, namely because of the lack of rehabilitative treatments for the condition and because of the danger to society that pedophiles present.

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