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Summers, Ryckman square off to represent HD 22

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By AJ Vicens

Education is the most important issue for the two former teachers squaring off in House District 22 in November, but their approaches differ.

Democrat Camille Ryckman, a former teacher at Lakewood's Warren Tech, and incumbent Republican Ken Summers, a former Englewood High School teacher, disagree on vouchers.

Ryckman said her background leads her to believe that parents should have a choice in the type of schools their children attend. She taught at Warren Tech — a high school focusing on trades rather than traditional education — and her husband is a teacher at D'Evelyn Junion/Senior High School, an alternative school with high academic and social standards. These schools should be available to all parents, but without the use of vouchers, Ryckman said.

Summers agrees that parents should have a choice in the type of schools parents can choose from, but said vouchers should be part of the answer for providing more preschool education in Colorado.

"One of the positive things about Colorado that diminishes the push for vouchers is the fact that there is a broad range of educational opportunities," Summers said. He said there already are a number of districts with open enrollment, and a lot of alternative and charter schools. But he's open to "some potential voucher program" in terms of providing parents with more opportunities.

Summers sponsored a bill to require school districts with open enrollment to have more information on their websites, but the bill was killed in committee. It later passed as a resolution.  

Health care is another issue where the candidates differ.

Ryckman said Gov. Bill Ritter's effort to provide insurance for more uninsured children earlier this year was a good start, but "we definitely have to take that to the next level and cover all kids. And we have to make sure seniors are covered."

"I want to make sure there are insurance options for all Coloradans," Ryckman said, adding that she also wants to focus on putting doctors and patients in control of medical decisions, not insurance companies.

Summers has a different approach.

"The bottom line is, I'm opposed to universal, government-run health care as an avenue of just insuring more people," Summers said. "Our goal is to bring some cost containment to health care, and that's the challenge we have. We can do that without the government coming in and taking over choices that should be made by individuals."

Energy issues continue to dominate the national political discussion, and are equally relevant in House District 22.

"Colorado is a state with so many amazing resources, and we want to attract business to come here," Ryckman said. She proposes eliminating the business property tax on equipment to help business owners. She's also supports more investment in continuing worker education through vocational and apprentice programs.

Both said they favor investing in renewable energies. Ryckman said business development should include renewable-energy industries, but companies should be held to high environmental standards. Summers said renewable energies should be encouraged, but only "where it doesn't cripple the economy in the process.”

Summers, 54, has held the seat since 2006, and wants voters to send him back for another term. He graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a degree in business education and earned a master's degree from Regis University in nonprofit management. After college, he became a business teacher at Englewood High School, and after a short time as a teacher, he went on to the ministry, where he has worked on and off ever since. He worked in churches from Lakewood to Strasburg, and Colby, Kan., before he returned to be senior pastor at Dakota Ridge Assembly. In Strasburg, Summers served on the local parks and recreation board, and the school board. When he returned to Jefferson County, he realized he wanted to work on public policy, prompting his 2006 campaign.

Ryckman, 38, graduated from Bear Creek High School in 1988 and went on to graduate from Metropolitan State College of Denver with a double major in political science and history. She was selected for the minority leader’s fellowship program in Washington, D.C. She became a teacher, and worked for five years at Warren Tech in Lakewood. The last six years she's been a stay-at-home mom but stays active with her children's schools and has been active in the Parent Teacher Association.

Snapshot:

Ken Summers, Republican

Age: 54

Education: Undergraduate degree in business education from the University of Northern Colorado, master's degree in nonprofit management from Regis University

Experience: Teacher, coach, pastor, state representative

Camille Ryckman

Age: 38

Education: Double major in political science and history from Metropolitan State College of Denver, minority leaders fellowship program in Washington, D.C.

Experience: Teacher for five years at Warren Tech in Lakewood, stay-at-home mom with extensive experience volunteering in her children's schools and with the PTA.

Visit the candidates’ websites for more information on their positions. Camille Ryckman's site is

www.camilleforcolorado.com. Ken Summers' campaign site is www.kensummers.org.

House District 22

House District 22 is loosely bordered by C-470 on the west, Bowles Avenue on the south, Jewell Avenue to the north, and variously Wadsworth Boulevard, Sheridan Boulevard and Jellison Street to the east (to determine which district you live in, visit www.state.co.us/gov_dir/leg_dir/lcsstaff/REAP/Default.htm).