Political newcomer Richard Allan Bassett is hoping to unseat Democratic incumbent Rep. Janet Buckner in the House District 40 race in Aurora.

The seat, which belonged previously to Buckner’s husband John has long been blue. Both candidates were unopposed in the primary election. Buckner received just more than 7,000 votes from fellow Democrats; Bassett received about 4,600. In 2016, Buckner, who was appointed to the seat by local Democrats after the death of her husband, won her seat with 57 percent of the vote.

Buckner, to date, has significantly out-raised and outspent Bassett. According to state campaign finance records, Bassett has earned $1,664.99, spending approximately $900. Likewise, Buckner has raised $52,034.71 and spent more than $23,000 on her campaign.

Bassett said he decided to run because he feels it is his civic duty to do so, especially after seeing the intense change and growth that has happened in Aurora in the last decade. Now a security officer, primarily for recreational marijuana dispensaries and schools in the Cherry Creek School District, Bassett received all of his schooling in Aurora. He graduated Gateway High School in 2008 and went on to earn certifications at the Community College of Aurora and then a degree from Metropolitan State University in Denver.

Bassett, who describes his political philosophy on his website as “classical liberalism,” said the issue he hears most about from Aurora residents when he’s canvassing is affordable housing in the district. Though, he said in an interview with the Sentinel he doesn’t have a proposed policy to address increasing home prices.

JANET BUCKNER

After the death of Rep. John Buckner, D-Aurora, in 2015, Janet Buckner was appointed to the seat by a vacancy committee to complete the term of her late husband. She retired from a career in medical sales in 2007 and has lived in Aurora since 1975. She has three adult children and three granddaughters. Janet Buckner is the vice chair of the House Education Committee and serves on the House Health Insurance and Environment Committee.

RICHARD BASSETT

Richard Bassett is an Aurora native. He graduated from Gateway High School in 2008 and remained in the region for college, earning certifications from the Community College of Aurora and then later a degree at Metropolitan State University in Denver. He’s worked as an EMT and now in private security, mostly for marijuana dispensaries and Cherry Creek School District schools. This is Bassett’s first run for office.

“There is some stuff (that could be done), that would probably take some bipartisan support to get a bill passable at the House and Senate and onto the governor’s desk. I’m not sure what steps could be taken specifically,” he said.

Among other issues Bassett said he supports are arming school teachers and giving the state treasurer access to state pension records.

Buckner is seeking a second elected-term for the district. She’s currently the vice chair of the House Education Committee. Accordingly, she’s put an emphasis on education legislation during her time at the state Capitol.

“Education is my passion because I am a former teacher and I know that education is the key to success. I want to make sure schools get the appropriate funding so class sizes do not increase,” she said of her goals for the 2018 legislative session. “In addition, I want to make sure that essential personnel for schools is not decreased so that our educational institutions can function effectively. Finally, cutting down on unnecessary testing will allow teachers to focus more on the curriculum and spend more time educating our students.”

She sponsored a bill this year along with Senate Republicans to create a program aimed to address the teacher shortage in rural Colorado. That legislation got a seal of approval from both chambers and was signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Buckner’s platform also includes focusing in on women’s health, equal pay and veterans issues.

“I have an incredible amount of respect for anyone who is currently serving, served in the past, or are planning on serving  in the military in the future. It is so important that our veterans get the services and assistance that they need and deserve,” she wrote on her website. “I will personally work for all veterans to ensure that they are getting the medical and mental health assistance that they need. This means holding our veterans offices and facilities accountable for their actions while also promoting efficient and effective care for all of our respected veterans who have so honorably served our country.”

Candidate Questions for Janet Buckner

  1. In light of the spate of sexual harassment claims this year, should the Legislature create some kind of fines or other punitive measure for lawmakers deemed guilty of harassment?

Any legislator who has been found by our independent investigators to have been more likely than not to have committed a sexual harassment offense should face serious consequences. Depending on the nature and severity of the offense, serious consideration of a state house or state senate vote on expulsion should be on the table. We must send the message that this kind of behavior has no place in Colorado politics.

2. Should the state cede some control of fracking and gas and oil production to counties and municipalities? How much?

Local control is a fundamental principle that is cherished in Colorado. With that said, I believe that both the legislature and local municipalities should play a role in making sure that we have safe energy practices in our state. While the state should absolutely provide a baseline of standards for our energy sector, we should allow our municipalities to enact the standards that best suit their communities, their constituents, and our shared environment.

3. Gov. John Hickenlooper has issued an executive order mandating a 26 percent cut in in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, is that too much, too little or adequate?

Given the dire need to reduce dangerous emissions in the atmosphere, I think that a 26 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions is admirable and a good start. However, if we are going to be serious about Colorado being a leader in sustainability, we should have bold long term goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This means cutting our greenhouse gas emissions by as much as possible while working with our energy companies to mitigate disruption in critical job markets. I believe that we can have a bold vision for clean energy while also opening up new job markets and transitioning our workforce to thrive in the 21st century.

4. Several studies show that growth at any level never pays for itself. Should Colorado impose a tax on new comers, i.e. license plate and other fees?

Any state going through drastic growth will undoubtedly face growing pains. We would need to be very careful with taxing new comers because we do not want to disincentivize individuals from bringing their professional talents and strengths to our state. I think the best route for fixing our funding shortfalls is to address the fundamental problems that exist with Tabor.

5. Would you support the red-flag bill that passed the state House this year?

Yes, I supported this bill in the 2018 legislative session and I would absolutely support it again. We need to remember that this bill had tremendous support from the law enforcement community and the community at large. I believe that this legislation would protect Coloradans while also protecting individual rights.

6. Would you support full tolling on select roads or interstates to help fund road construction?

In some instances toll roads make sense. However, we do not want to over burden Coloradans who travel to and from work with a vast network of toll roads and fees. Again, this is an instance where adjusting Tabor may free up funds for road construction.

7. Should the Legislature work to reduce in-state tuition at state colleges? How?

Yes, it’s productive for students to stay in their home state to receive their degree. Their professional expertise will serves as an asset to Colorado’s growing economy. Eliminating unnecessary tuition fees would be a great place to start.

8. Would you support a state path toward some kind of universal or single payer health care in Colorado?

Yes, studies have shown that when more people are covered with health insurance, the cost of insurance as a whole drops dramatically. This would significantly improve health outcomes among Coloradans.

9. Would you support a bill ending capital punishment in Colorado?

Yes, my personal, philosophical, and religious beliefs lead me to have a stance against the death penalty.

10. Would you support a bill to prohibit the use of red-light cameras in Colorado?

I would not vote to impose a statewide ban of red light cameras. The Aurora City Council vote for red light cameras was split. A significant amount of money from red light violation fines are distributed to the police who operate the program, and the remainder goes to nonprofit organizations. Red light enforcement has reduced T-bone collisions and improved overall general safety.

11. Would you support a bill promoting arming teachers and staff at public schools?

No I would not. I am vice-chair of the Education Committee for the House or Representatives and through my interactions with superintendents, educators and teachers I have come to learn that they overwhelmingly do not support this proposal. Teachers have relayed to me that they want to remain focused on teaching rather than arming themselves in a school setting. In 2018 the legislature passed bills that would provide schools with additional funding to use for school safety.

 

Questions about you
  • What food do you hate most?

Okra

2. Do you indulge in recreational marijuana?

No, I do not.

3. Who would play you in a movie about your life?

I would love to have Oprah Winfrey portray me in a movie.

4. What Olympic sport do you wish you could win gold in?

Figure Skating.

5. What was your favorite childhood candy?

Red licorice.

6. If you could be an eyewitness to one event in history, what would it be?

The release of Nelson Mandela from prison.

7. If the Secret Service gave you a code name, what would it be?

Grey Dove

8. If you had to sing karaoke, what song would you sing? Car karaoke counts.

“Happy” by Pharrell Williams

9. What epitaph would you like written on your tombstone?   

“Janet treated every individual with respect and love. We are all more alike than we are different.”

10. Is a hot dog a sandwich?

No!

11. What is the last concert you attended?

Gladys Knight.

12. What movie do you never tire of watching?

The Shawshank Redemption

13. Dogs or cats?

DOGS

14. What’s the most overrated thing about living in Colorado?

I don’t know if this is the most overrated, but the most misunderstood thing about Colorado is the perception that we have snow all the time. 

 

Candidate Questions for Richard Bassett

  1. In light of the spate of sexual harassment claims this year, should the Legislature create some kind of fines or other punitive measure for lawmakers deemed guilty of harassment?

I believe that there already is. If I recall Rep. Steve Lebsock was voted out of the State House last session.

2. Should the state cede some control of fracking and gas and oil production to counties and municipalities? How much?

Arapahoe County may not be what’s good for Douglas County

3. Gov. John Hickenlooper has issued an executive order mandating a 26 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, is that too much, too little or adequate?

This is a number picked at random, there is no way that this can be accomplished without causing massive cost increases to the people of the state of Colorado.

4. Several studies show that growth at any level never pays for itself. Should Colorado impose a tax on newcomers, i.e. license plate and other fees?

I would oppose any new taxes.

5. Would you support the red-flag bill that passed the state House this year?

Not the way the bill was written.

6. Would you support full tolling on select roads or interstates to help fund road construction?

No.

7. Should the Legislature work to reduce in-state tuition at state colleges? How?

The only way to do this would be to get the federal government out of college education and loans.

8. Would you support a state path toward some kind of universal or single payer health care in Colorado?

Absolutely not.

9. Would you support a bill ending capital punishment in Colorado?

Absolutely not.

10. Would you support a bill to prohibit the use of red-light cameras in Colorado?

100% yes

11. Would you support a bill promoting arming teachers and staff at public schools?

I support having armed guards in all Colorado schools, as well as allowing teachers who hold a valid CCW to carry while at work.

 QUESTIONS ABOUT YOU
  1. What food do you hate most?

Avocados

2. Do you indulge in recreational marijuana?

Nope

3. Who would play you in a movie about your life?

Kevin James

4. What Olympic sport do you wish you could win gold in?

Skeet and Trap Shooting

5. What was your favorite childhood candy?

Twix

6. If you could be an eyewitness to one event in history, what would it be?

Operation overload, also known as D-Day, or the battle of York Town

7. If the Secret Service gave you a code name, what would it be?

Fluffy

8. If you had to sing karaoke, what song would you sing? Car karaoke counts.

“Don’t stop believin'” by Journey

9. What epitaph would you like written on your tombstone?

Don’t be too proud to admit you were wrong.

10. Is a hot dog a sandwich?

No

11. What is the last concert you attended?

Metallica World Wire Tour June 2017

12. What movie do you never tire of watching?

The Martian

13. Dogs or cats?

Cats

14. What’s the most overrated thing about living in Colorado?

Recreational marijuana, out of state people think it’s a big deal, when it really isn’t.