COLORADO SPRINGS–Ten candidates running for a seat in the U.S. Senate met at the Ent Center for the Performing Arts on the UCCS campus Sunday, Oct. 6 for a “Planet in Peril: 2020 Senate Candidate Forum” debate hosted by College Democrats. Absent from the panel were U.S. Sen. Corey Gardner and Democrat candidate John Hickenlooper.
A capacity crowd of more than 250 people heard candidates answer and rebut statements from other forum members posed by a panel of moderators.
The debate kicked off with an assertion that the planet is in peril of the “Sixth mass extinction,” and a quote from 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, “The politics needed to fix this doesn’t even exist today.”
Andrew Romanoff, past Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, who says the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has “blacklisted” him, began the opening statements.
“The first thing I’d do is to take some inspiration from the original New Deal and enact a New Green Deal that ends our reliance on fossil fuel and accelerates our transition to a clean energy economy,” Romanoff said.
This set the tone for the rest of the debate. Nine of the 10 candidates took the position that “fracking” needs to be banned nationwide.
The only candidate who partially disagreed was Josh Rodriguez of Arvada. A member of the Unity Party, Rodriguez worked as a civilian research scientist for the Army and studied chemistry, engineering and education in college.
“I know a lot of us want to ban fracking, but that opportunity isn’t realistic right now because we’ve made huge investment, $1.5 billion investment in our energy plants,” said Rodriguez. “We need to come up with alternative technology like biofuels so we can have that opportunity to ban fracking.”
Trish Zornio, who teaches behavioral neuroscience and research methodology at the University of Colorado Denver disagreed and said that all oil extraction and fracking should cease by 2021 and that she would “incentivize” drivers to “change transportation modes.”
Lorena Garcia, an activist for minorities who has “been supporting vulnerable communities throughout Colorado” was more direct in her approach to ending reliance on fossil fuels, as well as embracing “climate driven” migration and open borders.
“We’re going to have to make actions, and we’re going to have to force people, force industries and force action,” Garcia said. “We have to make sure that we create a system of immigration and migration that’s going to be open arms…and in order to do that we have to abolish ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement].”
Michelle Warren, a community organizer and author, focused on her experience as a “builder of coalitions” and “policy expert” for the last 10 years.
“The reality is that the climate crisis is so pressing that we cannot even wait until the election,” said Warren. “We cannot allow our future and our earth and our environment to be set to the winds of the administration.”
Diana Bray, a clinical psychologist and self-professed “Climate justice advocate” wants to ban herbicides, pesticides and insecticides and end subsidies for “factory farming” as well as provide “reparations” for “damage done to communities.”
Bray said, “Most of the time what I think about is what I haven’t done. Have I done enough personally, professionally, in terms of everything that I’m doing every day. And this has been my obsession.”
Gary Swing, former state chair of the Colorado Green Party, said he moved to the Unity Party because Colorado’s Green Party “has been taken over by a totalitarian faction.”
Swing said freedom to travel and migrate is a “fundamental human right” and that climate displacement should be a valid excuse for political asylum. Swing also wants to fundamentally change the composition of Congress.
“I propose to abolish the U.S. Senate and elect congress by proportional representation,” said Swing.
Alice Madden, former Colorado Democratic House Majority Leader and self-professed “architect of the progressive resurgence in Colorado” supports having new industry sign a pledge to pay living wage and support unionization.
She wants to “Decarbonize the utility sector by 2035, decarbonize all new cars, trucks, busses by 2030.”
“We need to think bigger than carbon neutrality, we need to go carbon negative,” said Madden.
Madden has since dropped out of the race.
Stephany Spaulding, chair the Women’s and Ethnic Studies program at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, supports the Green New Deal and government censorship. On her candidate web page Spaulding says “I will make it illegal to promote inaccurate information concerning energy and environmental impacts.”
“We are on stolen land,” said Spaulding. “We cannot decarbonize our economy without a mobilization of people who will hold accountable the fossil fuel industries that politicians on both the left and the right who are in the pockets of fossil fuel organizations and lobbyists.”
Angela Williams, Colorado state Senator for District 33, representing northeast Denver, helped pass a law permitting undocumented students to attend college with in-state tuition. “I have a 98% lifetime environmental voting record, said Williams. “I have spent nearly a decade at the legislature. Today is here and the time is now for us to save our planet.”