Diane Mitsch Bush has served Western Colorado honorably over the past 17 years, beginning her political career as a commissioner in Routt County before getting elected to the state House representing Routt and Eagle counties in 2013.
As a state lawmaker, Bush pursued bipartisan solutions to nonpartisan problems. She’s a Democrat who often appeared on bills with Republicans, and it’s little wonder why when her background is rooted so heavily as an academic pursuing good public policy solutions to the most pervasive problems of our times.
We think Bush will be an excellent representative for Congressional District 3. She is ready and willing to listen to her constituents — be they Democrats, Republicans or independents — and she is transparent and open about her decision-making process.
Bush is facing first-time political candidate Lauren Boebert, a Republican who we know very little about. In part that is because Boebert declined to participate in a video-conference meeting with The Denver Post editorial board. Her campaign spokeswoman said Boebert decided to focus on media in her district, and Boebert did meet with the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.
We would have liked to ask Boebert, who doesn’t have a single policy position on her website, how she’d vote on a complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act; how she’d weigh legitimate concerns over the growing national debt with the need for additional stimulus funds to keep the economy moving; and what bill she’d introduce her first year to help her district. And yes, we would have asked her if she actually believes there is a deep-state conspiracy to undermine President Donald Trump and how much that theory would guide her work in Congress.
Elected officials work for the people. Part of representatives’ jobs is to explain to voters how they voted and why. If Boebert won’t answer tough questions now, we are skeptical she’ll be accessible to the public as an elected official.
We know Bush will be accessible to her constituents, although we think she should have attended the debates hosted by Club 20 (Boebert refused to attend as well), a group of thoughtful leaders from rural Colorado.
“I’m your employee,” Bush said when she met with The Post. “My job is to work for you and I still believe that, and I also believe that being a representative, whether at the state or federal level, is really a sacred trust. There’s a bond between you and your constituents. That means you have to tell the truth. You have to be transparent. You have to be responsible and responsive. The buck stops here.”
For example, we asked Bush at length about her position on the Jordan Cove project, a proposal that many hope could revitalize the ailing oil and natural gas industry in Western Colorado. The project is proposed by a Canadian oil and gas company and it would put a liquefied natural gas processing plant on the coast of Oregon, potentially opening up international markets for domestically produced natural gas. The new plant would need a 200-plus-mile pipeline to gather gas from existing pipelines, including one leading from the Western Slope.
“The question is, would the pipeline find a market? And if it didn’t have a market what would the benefit be for Western Slope oil and gas workers, and that’s a question that has not been answered,” Bush said, also raising questions about the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s eminent domain process which would allow the pipeline to cut across private land, even when the landowner opposed the taking of the right-of-way.
It’s not ultimately Congress’s decision whether the project can go forward. Currently, lawsuits have paused progress, but we think Bush will be fair-minded in her evaluation of the project’s environmental impacts and the inevitable taking of private property and weigh those against the net-benefit to her district.
Bush supports the Affordable Care Act, and wants lawmakers to find a way to strengthen the law that she said is crucial to protect people with pre-existing conditions and help young Americans who may need to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 23 when unemployment is so high.
“I do not support Medicare for all. I do not support any plan that takes away private insurance,” she said.
We think Bush has a good vision for Western Colorado — one that is centered on protecting and expanding public lands to promote an outdoor recreation-centered economy. She will represent their interests well in Congress, and when it comes to the national issues that affect us all, Bush will be a leader.