Spotlight on Colorado House District 40 – Acree vs Buckner

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This article is part 1 of 2 in a series spotlighting several key races across the Denver metro area. House District 40 is a race between 2-term incumbent Representative Cindy Acree and her challenger, retired Overland High School principal John Buckner.

District 40 includes most of Aurora and Foxfield. It runs east of 225 and mostly north of Arapahoe Road. The reapportioned district leans slightly Democrat now although the margin is only a 576 difference between the two parties’ registered voters.

Because My Colorado View is focused on Colorado women and the issues that affect them, the candidates are being asked 6 standard questions, with follow up that focus on their big ideas surrounding women’s issues and any other special areas of focus they want voters to know about.

Representative Acree responded to our interview request and the following are her answers. Mr. Buckner did not respond to requests for an interview. The following are Acree’s responses:

1)      What do you think is the most important issue families and women are facing in your district?

CA: “By far, it’s the economy. Women who have to hold down jobs and maintain the household, oversee children, are impacted tremendously when their disposable income is decreased or when they have to worry about jobs.

Also, making sure we have quality jobs that pay well, so that we can afford to take care of our families properly and not have to worry, so we can afford daycare if you’re working and you need a safe place for your children.

One of the things that I supported last session was the expansion of the child care tax credit. We expanded it to care facilities that were in hospitals. For some reason, they had been previously excluded.

We also expanded the child care benefit when you’ve been unemployed and you’re going back to work so that you have a buffer. Your child care doesn’t stop immediately. Many times women find when you’re working, you can barely afford the child care anyway. When you start a job, you’re working longer hours, you’re paying more. We need some time for the pay to catch up with the outflow of cash.

The other thing I did that impacts women is my hospital charity care bill. We passed a bill that says hospitals have to take uninsured patients and they had to guarantee the uninsured their best contract price.  They can’t turn you over to collections. They have to work out payment plans.

Most of us want to pay our way but if we don’t remove the barriers that make us able to do so, we’re stuck.”

2) What are your favorite public policy issues you feel you can speak about best?

CA: “Healthcare – by far, healthcare. The issue really isn’t what the state determines what the health care services should be. The issue should be whatever the patient and doctor determine to be medical necessity should be what the patient gets.

As far as I’m concerned, the insurance companies have a contract with the consumer to pay for the services that they need. There should never have to be a debate.

One of the things I’ve also been very involved in has been teen pregnancy and that is definitely a women’s issue. When young women have babies, they tremendously increase their chances of living in poverty.

I sit on a national council of state legislators Teen Pregnancy Council, which has worked diligently with Senator Jeanne Nicholson on raising awareness of public policy advisors around the issues of teen pregnancy. It knows no socio-economic barriers.

As a mother of a teenage-mother, I can tell you, you’re never prepared.

One of the barriers that I ran across personally and that I think is a tremendous hardship for these teen mothers is the fact that you cannot buy a “child-only” policy in Colorado. They limited the window (for purchasing a policy) but the babies can go on to Medicaid. And that’s the problem.

When I was ready to write a check for my granddaughter’s insurance and I couldn’t find a carrier because I fell outside the open enrollment period. That’s nuts. Why should you be forced to go into Medicaid because the state puts up barriers to prevent you from buying insurance?

So let’s work with preventing teen pregnancy and we will tremendously impact poverty.”

How do you advocate doing that?

CA: “It’s easy to say the solutions begin in the home. But it doesn’t matter what socio-economic stratus you’re in. The bigger issue is whether or not young women have enough self-confidence to make good choices. They have to be educated. They have to have tools. They have to understand what their options are.

It’s important that not only the education system that we work with but our communities develop types of programs and a culture that instills self-respect and confidence in all of our young people.”

3) What is the most important piece of information you want women to know about you and why would a woman vote for you?

CA: “It’s important for women to know I have lived a life that has ‘Been there, done that.’ I’m a widowed mother of teenagers. I’ve had to learn to do without health insurance living with a chronic illness and bouncing back and forth with different employers.

I know what it’s like to run a household when you’re a single mom. I also know what it’s like to build a business. I know the barriers you have to confront and the challenges that we as mothers have to go through in balancing our family’s budget and making sure that kids in our family always get the things they need.

I’ve been able to work with huge organizations, manage big budgets and run companies, but I’ve also run a household and met all the challenges that women face today. And we do have to juggle all the balls.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a single mother, a working mother or a stay at home mom. We have mothers that stay at home with children who have nursing-level care needs and kids who are chronically ill. These are the heroes.

Most of the volunteers in all of our schools, our charitable organization and our city and local governments are women. The women are the backbone of our community.

Another lost population is our military spouses who are stationed all over, who move around often and who may not live close to a military medical facility. We don’t do a good job of taking care of those families.

When we talk about women’s issues, we have to put it in a bigger context and say we’re talking about issues that affect families. If we start early and work on those issues, by the time a young woman becomes an adult, she’ll have a better life and better options.”

Stay tuned for part II of this article which will post tomorrow.

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