ALAMOSA – Adam Frisch, Alex Walker and Sol Sandoval - the three remaining candidates running for the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert in November - appeared together (virtually) this week in a forum to familiarize themselves with voters and answer policy questions posed by the moderators.
With one candidate (Sandoval) appearing on the ballot via the assembly process and the other two (Frisch and Walker) via petition, the significant number of registrants suggested voters wanted to know more, especially with ballots going out in the mail next week.
Ten policy questions were asked in the 90-minute forum in a format not unlike speed-dating. Candidates were given two minutes to answer big questions on everything from immigration to wildfire mitigation.
But the one question many voters wanted answered - reflected in more than half of the comments submitted on chat during the forum - was about strategy more than policy. “How will you beat Lauren Boebert?”
Up first was Adam Frisch, a self-described moderate, “dad, husband and thirty-year career businessperson who spent eight years on the Aspen City Council.”
“The number one question that supercedes all the rest is how to make sure that there’s a path to victory,” Frisch said. “As I start all my conversations, Boebert is weak. Marjorie Taylor Green got 85% of the vote in 2020 and Matt Gaetz got 65%. Lauren Boebert got 51%. She didn’t win her home county, which is Garfield and very representative of our district. Newspapers in Montrose and Delta have turned against her and people are learning that loud, obnoxious and embarrassing does not mean strong.”
Frisch believes “simple math says a Democrat cannot win without building a coalition” of Democrats, disenchanted Republicans and Unaffiliated voters. “I have core Democratic values but we can’t govern if we can’t win.” Democrats focus on issues that effect the vast majority of Americans, he said, while Republicans focus on winning elections. “I want to do both.”
Sol Sandoval, a progressive candidate, focused on her background - “the daughter of courageous, naturalized citizens and lifelong union members who came to this country in pursuit of the American Dream” - and relatability to voters.
“For the past twenty years I’ve lived in Pueblo and experienced what most of you are experiencing in this district. Living paycheck to paycheck, wondering if I can keep a roof over my head while I’m trying to afford groceries, going to Urgent Care and skipping going to the ER because I can’t afford it and drowning in student debt.”
Sandoval believes “t’s time to elect someone who cares and who will look out for the residents of CD3” and stated she is “ready to step up and be the leader we so desperately need right now.”
Sandoval also listed those who have endorsed her, including former Boebert opponent Diane Mitsch-Bush, Working Families Party, Democrats on Pueblo City Council and several Democratic elected officials. She further reminded voters that she won “almost 50 per cent support” from the Democratic assembly.
Alex Walker, also progressive, is self-described as a “31-year-old queer mechanical engineer” who was raised in Colorado. “I’m not running because I want to be in Congress. I’m running for survival.” I’m so tired of watching Democrats play to lose. Sixty-five per cent of voters agree with us on key issues and yet I keep waking up to see news about how Roe versus Wade is about to be overturned and my right to marry my partner is being called into question. I’m tired of it.”
Walker disagrees the number one reason Democrats can flip the seat is because “Boebert is uniquely bad” at her job. “We all know that. The reason we can flip this seat is because there is no seat Democrats can’t flip if we play smart.”
Walker stated that anger needs to be “the resting state” of the Democratic Party and he can energize a new generation of voters with his knowledge of how to work with the media and digital platforms.
When asked about the role of the federal government in affordable housing, Sandoval spoke about the importance of rental assistance and assistance for first time homebuyers. “In Congress, we have to support every single act and every single bill” that supports those programs, working with local and state agencies to make sure people are accessing those programs and “encouraging in Congress more affordable housing.”
Walker feels that there needs to be “someone in Congress who can lobby for federal funding to build more housing.” He also advocates for in-district renters and buyers to be “protected from an influx of wealthy out-of-staters” and a “safety net” to protect “legacy homeowners” from high prices.
Frisch says the affordable housing problem is related to supply and demand, citing Colorado consumer protection rules that discourage builders from building in the state. The federal government could “backfill” or provide some of that insurance protection to encourage building. He also believes the supply of construction materials is impacting building, an area where the federal government could impact with improving the supply chain.
In terms of the price of health care, Walker advocates for lowering profit ceiling in insurance companies from 20% to 10%, “going after Big Pharma” to lower drug prices and taxing corporations to subsidize health care costs.
Frisch spoke about the challenge of providers leaving health care with lack of access driving up cost plus ways to have a “stronger conversation” with pharmaceutical companies on the price of prescription drug prices related to Medicare and Medicaid.
Sandoval spoke about her experience with seeing the failure of the health care system and her reliance on Planned Parenthood. She supports expanded Medicare eligibility and negotiating drug prices for Medicaid and Medicare.
Regarding wildfire mitigation and the climate crisis that is responsible, Sandoval stressed the importance of electing someone who recognizes climate change is real, “the experts have the funding they need” and “conserving and reusing water” and protecting water resources.
Walker spoke about the importance of reforesting, that already has bipartisan support, and a carbon tax that is also supported and growing green jobs and protecting the environment.
Frisch spoke of the importance of water conservation and preservation plus seeking bipartisan agreement on passing legislation addressing effective forest management practices.