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DeGette kicks off campaign in South Jeffco

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Longtime congresswoman running for re-election in some new territory

By Emile Hallez

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette plans to focus on transportation, stem-cell research, hydraulic fracturing and prescription-drug shortages in the current session of Congress, she said Jan. 19 at a news conference announcing her bid for re-election.

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DeGette, a Democrat who kicked off her campaign at the Columbine Library, will now run in a district that includes most of South Jeffco after the Colorado Supreme Court affirmed in December a Democratic-endorsed redistricting map.

Though District 1 continues to lean heavily Democratic, DeGette said some issues facing the more conservative part of Jefferson County are similar to those throughout the metro area — transportation and job creation. And while her constituency is composed predominantly of liberals, she said she’s represented communities like South Jeffco for years.

“I’ve been representing Englewood, Cherry Hills Village and Sheridan for 10 years. So I’ve been representing a number of suburban constituencies. Actually, a lot of the issues that face these Jeffco areas are very similar … transportation issues, economic development and infrastructure,” said DeGette, who is in her eighth term in the House. “The entire metro area is having the same challenges with respect to job creation.”

Regarding transportation, DeGette said she plans to work to secure federal funding for local road projects and RTD FasTracks expansion. However, she did not cite specific areas in which transportation could be improved in South Jeffco, emphasizing that Jefferson County is a new geography of representation.

Additionally, DeGette said she plans to reintroduce a wilderness-area bill she has been sponsoring for 12 years. The legislation, which has no co-sponsors, would create numerous designated wildness areas in the western portion of the state.

DeGette is also sponsoring legislation that would require oil companies to disclose all chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. The bill would not, however, require companies to fully reveal their formulas, only the names of the chemicals, DeGette said, comparing the requirement to that of food and beverage manufacturers listing ingredients on nutrition labels.

“I exempt proprietary information in my bill,” she said. “You know what’s in Coca-Cola, but you don’t know what the secret formula is.”

DeGette has also sponsored a bill that would require drug manufacturers to provide ample notification to doctors and hospitals of anticipated drug shortages. Another bill would seek to prevent future administrations from prohibiting embryonic stem-cell research allowed under an executive order signed by President Obama.

Regarding Jefferson County’s aging population, DeGette noted it as being similar to that in other parts of the metro area, when she was asked about how Social Security and Medicare can maintain solvency in the coming decades.

“I think we need to go back and look at the Simpson-Bowles proposal,” DeGette said of a report generated by Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, a controversial plan that would increase tax revenue and decrease discretionary spending by $200 billion, in addition to modifying Social Security and Medicare. DeGette said she did not agree with some aspects of the plan, while acknowledging the necessity of addressing the two social programs.

“Right now Social Security is solvent to 2037. Medicare is much more of concern,” she said, noting that she supports increasing a cap on payroll tax deductions and upping co-payment amounts for less-needy recipients. “Because it’s such a big program, if we act now, we’re not going to have to take draconian measures.”

Members of Congress need to extend bipartisan efforts in order to help foster job creation through legislation, she said.

“Congress does not have to be a broken institution. We can come together on the important issues, like job creation,” she said. “We need the American public to do its part as well. Voters need to think about who they’re electing in a different way.”

Though the Democrat said she regularly works hand-in-hand with Republicans, compromising with some Tea Party conservatives who she said refuse to budge is not in her plans.

“I can work across the aisle with almost any Republican, but I can’t work with someone whose way is ‘my way or the highway,’ ” she said. “I can’t work with people like that, and to be honest, the regular old Republicans can’t work with them either.”

 

Contact Emile Hallez at emile@evergreenco.comor 303-933-2233, ext. 22.