EDITORIAL: The primary party’s over — time for state, congressional candidates to get real about roads, schools, health care and impeachment

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Colorado’s political parties have had their hand in shaping Colorado’s future, now it’s every voter’s turn.

Despite a change in state law that allowed even voters unaffiliated with a political party to have a say in primary nominations on Tuesday, choosing candidates for statewide offices was primarily a partisan event.

Democrats have chosen Boulder Congressman Jared Polis as their nominee. Republicans have landed on State Treasurer Walker Stapleton to head the ticket this fall.

Closer to home, political novice Jason Crow won the Democratic nomination to face off against career politician GOP Congressman Mike Coffman for Aurora’s 6th Congressional seat.

Predictably, all of these politicians have their own agenda’s for what they’d like the election contest to focus on during the next few months, and what they’d like to walk away with victorious.
Here’s our blueprint for what voters want to know from gubernatorial candidates:

• Despite strong inroads on building roads in Colorado, the growing list of needs still far outweighs resources. Colorado needs a governor with a clear, accountable and defensible plan for raising revenues to expand the state’s inadequate roads and highways. If the plan is to reduce spending in other areas and move money to roads, own it.

• Colorado residents now spend virtual mortgage-sized payments on health-care premiums for a product that increasingly provides less and continues only to cost more. Congress could easily continue to suffer its current paralysis, which means Colorado must step up to fix the problem. Residents are savvy enough to know the tinkering philosophy mapped out by past state lawmakers and administrations are useless daydreams. The health-care system is fundamentally broken. The next governor must lead the state to a workable, affordable and realistic way to provide quality health-care.

• The cost of higher education is dangerously out of control. Few things threaten the economic vitality of the state and quality of life of its residents as does a college system off the rails. Colleges in Colorado do not contain costs, and the state does not contribute enough to fund a stable, quality higher education network. The next governor must intervene in all sides to reduce, not just stall, in-state tuition costs, or we risk a vast public debacle.

• Likewise, Colorado public schools perform modestly at best, and it’s ludicrous to deny that serious underfunding of the system isn’t at least a large part of the problem. The next governor must show how spending can be increased in public schools, especially for schools with large communities of struggling students. The entire state, and the nation, benefits from better-educated and more engaged students. Schools and teachers have been saddled with cumbersome and meaningless regulations instead of pragmatic and empowering tools, like cash.

• Colorado has long been a Western bastion of civil rights. It was one of the first state’s to empower women voters, push back against Southern racism, legalize abortion rights, liberalize marijuana laws and ensure numerous rights for the state’s homosexual and transgender residents. The next Colorado governor must lead against any deterioration of those critical rights, and voters want to know how the next administration plans to protect them.

As for Aurora’s congressional race, the next Congress must hold the Trump administration accountable for its vast and seemingly endless display of malfeasance and its obnoxious embrace of cruel and bigoted policies.

• More than anything, the next Congress must be poised to hold impeachment hearings should FBI investigators uncover more than Trump’s known bumbling corruption. Voters need to know what candidates’ limits are for Trump’s wallowing in obstruction, lies, and his indifference to due process and the Constitution.

• This Congress has saddled the country with exploding debt, and there is no realistic plan to deal with it. Voters deserve straight answers here.

• The Trump Administration has made a desperate immigration problem critical. Voters need to know how far each candidate will compromise in passing comprehensive reform, including whether wasting billions of taxpayer dollars on Trump’s border wall is a line they will cross.

• The Affordable Care Act, relentlessly undermined by Republicans in Congress and the Trump Administration, must be emboldened or replaced. Like immigration, each candidate must make clear what they will support, and what they won’t to solve America’s health-care crisis.

• Women’s reproductive rights are under serious assault by the Trump Administration and Republican-led Congress. These hard-fought rights against misogynistic, cruel and scientifically ignorant anti-abortion policies are a serious threat to all Colorado women. Each candidate must detail how they’ll preserve these important rights.

Few periods in the country’s history has made state and federal elections so critical. It’s not a cliche nor hyperbole to say that the nation is at a crossroads. Voters must pay keen attention this year, and candidates must be scrupulously forthright and honest about their intentions.