June 1, 1998

Norton faces uphill battle for nomination

COUNTERPOINT

In late May, as partisan nominating conventions were being planned, a thought crossed my mind. I suddenly realized that it is possible to elect a Northern Coloradan as the next governor of Colorado.

Impossible, you say? Give the idea some consideration.

First comes the easy part: Identify a candidate. The ideal person is already in our midst. For the last eight years, he has served as Greeley’s senator and before that in the House of Representatives. During the last four years, he has been president of the Senate. His Senate leadership experience gives him the background and knowledge of government to succeed at higher office. His past legislation includes reform of the burdensome worker’s compensation system, saving businesses $2.7 billion in premiums since its passage in 1992.

He is a moderate Republican. He holds two degrees from Colorado State University. He owns his own consulting engineering firm. His wife is president of the University of Northern Colorado’s Board of Trustees. His name is Tom Norton and – unfortunately, despite these impressive qualifications – he faces an uphill battle to gain Republican nomination for governor in the Aug. 11 primary election.

At a recent meeting of 15 small-business owners from throughout Colorado, the three Republican gubernatorial candidates profiled their concerns about the future of Colorado. Their viewpoints differed widely.

Terry Walker of Lakewood speaks of two goals. He wants to shrink government, and he wants to reduce taxes. He would start by eliminating business property and vehicle ownership taxes. He would deal simplistically with transportation needs, by turning all road building projects over to private enterprise. Without government rules and regulations, Walker believes, road building costs can be reduced by 35 percent. He doesn’t mention safety standards.

State Treasurer Bill Owens has also served in the state Senate and House and was elected state treasurer in 1994. During this meeting with small-business owners, he stated his support for the TABOR amendment’s strict limits to governmental growth. Further, he pledged that as governor he would never sign any legislation that increases taxes. He believes that our needs for transportation infrastructure can be addressed within the existing state budget – by reallocating revenues from social programs and the “welfare state.”

Tom Norton explained to the business owners that, in fact, basic state transportation needs will require $13 billion of expenditures over the next 10 years, and that only $5 billion of revenue exists to fund them. He frankly admitted to his audience that additional revenue sources will have to be raised to meet these needs. Not exactly what that audience wanted to hear.

While the truth is sometimes painful, Norton has a reputation for always being truthful. At a recent meeting of the Christian Coalition, he gave them the same answers on the question of abortion as he did to his supporters at the Fort Collins’ Country Club. His answers are not tailored just to appeal to each specific audience.

Norton is now working to petition his way onto the Republican primary ballot. To do this, he must obtain almost 8,500 signatures from registered Republicans throughout the state.

Ideally, Norton would face two opponents, Terry Walker and Bill Owens, in the August primary. Norton needs these candidates to divide the far-right to ultraconservative side of the Republican vote. With a little luck and a modest amount of money, Norton would then win the Republican governor’s nomination with 40 percent of the total votes cast. More realistically, Norton will face Owens in a two-person race that can only be an uphill struggle.

Norton’s platform of improving the transportation system, correcting our tax system, and investing in education deserves the attention of the citizens of Colorado. These planks are the future of Colorado, and Norton has the ability to achieve them.

Former Fort Collins mayor John Knezovich is a certified public accountant.

COUNTERPOINT

In late May, as partisan nominating conventions were being planned, a thought crossed my mind. I suddenly realized that it is possible to elect a Northern Coloradan as the next governor of Colorado.

Impossible, you say? Give the idea some consideration.

First comes the easy part: Identify a candidate. The ideal person is already in our midst. For the last eight years, he has served as Greeley’s senator and before that in the House of Representatives. During the last four years, he has been president of the Senate. His Senate leadership experience gives him…

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