LAKEWOOD — Republican Senate District 22 candidate Tony Sanchez says there is no doubt a vote for him is a vote for the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR).
Sanchez hopes to replace Andy Kerr, who is term limited, representing Ken Caryl, Lakewood and Edgewater. He firmly believes TABOR is the main reason Colorado weathered the recession the way it did.
“I was on the board of the Colorado Union of Taxpayers, so I am somebody who unequivocally supports TABOR,” said Sanchez, whose challenger Democrat Brittany Pettersen while she was representing House District 28 voted to raise taxes and increase dept under Senate Bill 17-267, which some labeled as the biggest betrayal of TABOR since the Constitutional Amendment was passed in 1992. “Some say it’s an impediment, but it’s the only thing that kept the prosperity of Colorado in place.”
Sanchez said the real problem with the state budget is accountability and the confidence voters have in their legislators.
“What kind of confidence do voters have to raise any taxes if they don’t know where their money is going?” he said. “We have to defend TABOR. It’s a good thing for our citizens to have that voice, to be the final judgment when it comes to that as opposed to their legislator.”
By contrast, Pettersen, who did not return an interview request from Complete Colorado, spent most of her time in the House focusing on education matters and attempting to increase state income taxes on the wealthy.
Pettersen, who acted as Majority Whip for her final term in the House, outlines her goals on her website as supporting clean air and water, transitioning to renewable energy, tax credits for low income housing, changes to the property tax system, investing in roads and bridges, ensuring that growth pays its own way, reducing class sizes in K-12 schools, increasing access to early childhood education, providing tuition assistance to low- and middle-income college students, enacting paid family and medical leave for employees, investing in opioid addiction, and supporting senior citizens with better access to transportation and housing.
She is firmly rooted in the progressive movement, married to Ian Silverii, executive director of ProgressNow Colorado, which according to its website promotes “progressive ideals while pushing back on bad policies and bad behavior from the right wing.”
The race for Senate District 22 is an important one in an election cycle that Democrats are pushing to “take back” the Senate. Republicans currently hold a one-vote majority in the Senate, with seven seats term-limited — three Democrats, three Republicans and one unaffiliated, formally held by Cheri Jahn, who caucused with the Democrats. One more seat, Senate District 11 has two new contenders as Democrat Mike Merrifield is not seeking re-election.
Ten more seats are up for election with incumbents. Seven are currently held by Republicans to just three by Democrats. In all, Democrats need to win eight of the open 17 seats to gain control.
By contrast in the House, Democrats hold a seven-vote majority with seven Democrat seats open, five to term limits. Pettersen’s decision to run for the Senate opened her seat, as did Faith Winter’s decision to run for Senate District 24. Lang Sias being selected as Walker Stapleton’s choice for Lieutenant Governor left the lone Republican seat without an incumbent in House District 27.
Sanchez has slightly outraised Pettersen through the last reporting period, raising just under $66,000 total compared to Pettersen’s $60,500.
Pettersen, however, has raised more Political Action Committee (PAC) money. Nearly 43 percent of Pettersen’s funding ($25,650) has come from groups such as the Public Education Committee, NARAL Pro Choice Colorado and the Colorado Conservation Action Fund, compared to $4,400 in PAC money for Sanchez.
Sanchez currently has more than $50,000 in his war chest, while Pettersen is sitting on slightly less than $40,000.
Sanchez said the main thing lost on legislators right now is accountability.
“Right now we seem to have lost any accountability or transparency,” Sanchez said. We don’t have a lot of ideas about what we’re doing. We don’t know where the money is going, but it doesn’t go where it’s supposed to, particularly with roads.”
Sanchez worked his way up after his family immigrated to the United States from Mexico. His grandmother used to say, “If you have enough energy to complain, you have enough energy to do,” and abiding by that principle is evident in his credentials.
Sanchez holds degrees in Political Science and Communications, along with a Master’s Degree in International Relations. He has more than 10 years experience in non-profit and business management experience.
As the Executive Director and President of Freedom for Education, he led the effort against Common Core curriculum.
Calling himself “solution oriented,” Sanchez believes his experiences will help him hit the ground running if elected.
“There is a lack of leadership,” he said. “Personally, I think we need to raise the bar when it comes to a lot of things we need to do, like giving people an actual voice in the legislature. It’s far removed from our constituencies, particularly in the Lakewood and Littleton area.
Sanchez’s views on other issues:
School Choice — “Yes, I do support school choice, I was one of the statewide leaders when it comes to school choice.”
Second Amendment — “I will defend our Second Amendment rights unequivocally. It’s like running an organization, whenever you have a problem deal with the problem. You don’t just put everyone in the same box. We are mixing up a lot of issues. We have to decide (are guns) the problem or is it mental health and even so, is that the role of government? You have to think of privacy and due process. Having worked in the area of social services, I think we need to be looking at that as the problem, and we need to deal with it.”
Energy — “We live in this world where we have cars. In the real world where we definitely use our resources, we need to keep it as they are. We need to function.”
Sanchez said that ultimately, legislators need to be solution oriented and base laws on solutions not what might be or could be.
“Colorado is becoming unrecognizable when it comes to their representation,” he said. “It feels like everything is so political. It seems like government is too much in our lives. Everything has its role, and it seems like the legislature is not doing what it’s supposed to be doing.”