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So far two Republicans have filed to seek the new state Senate District 8 seat that will include most of Eagle County after legislative redistricting.
Rich Cimino, of Fraser, is currently a Grand County commissioner and also a retired U.S. Air Force intelligence officer and graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
Matt Solomon, of Eagle, is a former Eagle Town Board member and owner of Alpine Arms. He’s also an author and spent the last two years “providing protocol development and security for corporations and individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Both men are hoping to land on the ballot for Colorado’s June 28 party primary, and ultimately the Nov. 8 general election. Both say they’ll go through the caucus process and seek enough votes in the party assembly rather than petition onto the ballot.
The winner of the primary will most likely face Avon Democrat Dylan Roberts, a former prosecutor who currently represents Eagle and Routt counties in the state House of Representatives. Roberts doesn’t currently face a party primary opponent, and he announced his intentions to run for SD8 back in October.
After redistricting, state Senate District 8 will include the vast majority of Eagle County (excluding the southwestern corner that’s in the Roaring Fork River Valley), most of Garfield County, and all of Clear Creek, Gilpin, Summit, Grand, Jackson, Routt, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties.
The mostly rural northwestern section of the state has been represented by Republican Bob Rankin in the state Senate, but in redistricting his hometown of Carbondale moved into state Senate District 5, which is currently represented by Vail Democrat Kerry Donovan, who is term-limited.
RealVail.com asked the two Republican SD8 candidates a series of email questions on issues ranging from elections to public health to immigration. Here are their responses:
RV: What is the greatest threat to the health, economic wellbeing and safety of the residents of SD8?
RC: The greatest threat is the out-of-control cost of living in SD8. Bad policy choices are too often the cause. Liberal regulations and taxes result in less supply. Too much demand chasing too little supply causes prices to rise. When the costs of housing, groceries, gas, and everything keeps rising, our citizens can’t afford Health Insurance, can’t afford to invest for retirement, and can’t afford to adequately protect and house our families.
MS: Health, economic wellbeing, and safety are intertwined, not separate topics, and governments do not hold the keys to that kingdom. The people do. Henry David Thoreau was spot on when he said, “That government is best which governs least.” Anything that any government can do, the private sector can do more effectively and efficiently. We need to find the connective tissue so we can work on innovative and long-lasting solutions that allow for public-private partnerships or for the government to step back and let the private sector shoulder the burden.
RV: What have you done as an elected official and what will you continue to do in the state Senate to counteract that threat?
RC: As County Commissioner since 2016, I’ve led the efforts to lower Health Insurance costs and increase the supply of housing. Grand County went from one of the most expensive Counties in Colorado to one of the most affordable for health insurance. There are two main reasons for this — one government program, and one private marketplace program. The State Re-Insurance program lowered costs in Western Colorado approximately 20%, and the free-market Peak Purchasing Alliance lowered costs approximately 20% as well. As a state Senator, I will support smart government programs that have positive results, but more importantly I will never stop supporting private market solutions to problems!
MS: As a twice-elected member of the Eagle Town Council, people stopped me constantly with ideas – some great, some not so much. I have been told that through that, my most important assets as a Council Member were honesty, my ability to listen, and paying attention to the details and language before making decisions that affected the lives of thousands of people. My philosophy of “TCP” (Transparency, Consistency, and Predictability) will apply to the state legislature as much as it applies at the local level. I will carry those attributes, that philosophy, and more to my new role as your senator.
RV: Is Joe Biden the freely and fairly elected president of the United States, or do you agree with former President Donald Trump that there was widespread voter fraud in 2020?
RC: President Donald Trump was the freely and fairly elected president in 2016, and President Joe Biden was the freely and fairly elected president in 2020. I cannot speak for other states, but I believe Colorado’s election systems, run by our county clerks, are secure. There is always room for improvement, and I will work to prevent voter fraud and voter suppression to make Colorado’s elections fair and secure.
MS: Joe Biden was sworn into office as our President in January 2020. Until and unless the courts show otherwise, he is our president.
RV: Do you agree with the recent RNC resolution censuring Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger and declaring Jan. 6 “legitimate political discourse”?
RC: No. As the Senate Minority Leader said, “The issue is whether or not the RNC should be, sort of, singling out members of our party who may have different views from the majority. That’s not the job of the RNC.” Instead, we need to focus on winning elections by offering the voters of Colorado real solutions.
MS: The political environment in our country has been so divisive and negative, it is no wonder the majority of people in our Senate District 8 are unaffiliated or claim independence. January 6 is one more example of this negative divisiveness that we must overcome.
RV: Should Colorado pass laws and take actions aimed at election security up to and including sending alternate presidential electors in the 2024 presidential election?
RC: No. But I really oppose the current Colorado Law that would award Colorado’s electoral college votes to the National Popular vote winner. Are you kidding me? I opposed the Democratic Legislature that passed that bill. I will never stop trying to change this ridiculous law. Colorado’s 10 Electoral Votes should go to the candidate who wins Colorado!
MS: While none of us in Senate District 8 want to be micro managed by an overbearing government and we all want to have the utmost faith in the process, election security is a very important issue. It could include everything from alternate presidential electors, to mandatory identifications for voters, to special paper on which ballots would be printed. Before agreeing that Colorado “should pass laws and take actions,” though, we must first read and understand the language of said proposals so we can ensure the long-term goals of fair, free, and secure elections are actually met.
RV: Are you vaccinated against COVID-19 and how would you characterize Colorado’s public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic? What would you change about it?
RC: I am fully vaccinated, with a booster. I appreciate the efforts of the various counties’ boards of health and Public Health Directors. Hindsight is 20/20. In the moment we were dealing with something no one living had ever dealt with. The stringent lockdowns and mandates undoubtedly saved lives, but they also caused considerable damage to our economy and the mental health of Colorado citizens. Going forward, it appears it is time to drop all mandates and focus on healthy living and treatments.
MS: I spent 2020 and 2021 traveling the country providing protocol development and security for corporations and individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through that experience, those travels, and many interactions, I would say that Colorado falls in the middle as far as a public health response to the pandemic. From after action reports and discussions, we have identified several areas for improvement in all of the states we worked. I think the bigger questions we should be focused on are: What is our exit strategy? How to we plan to recover and move forward as a State and a District? What can I do as a senator to help ensure your needs are met, your questions answered, and confusion clarified?
RV: Is climate change causing extreme weather events such as wildfires, mudslides and extreme drought, and, if so, is it caused by the ongoing burning of fossil fuels?
RC: Yes, climate change is occurring, and it has been for at least several centuries. It is quite possible that change is at least partly caused by human activity. However, extreme climate change laws attacking oil and gas and agriculture must stop. I support technologies that make oil and gas cleaner, but we will need oil and gas for many more years and we should cooperate with the industry, not constantly oppose it. Likewise, we shouldn’t support “Meat Out Day,” but rather seek livestock foods that produce less methane when digested by our cattle. The transition to sustainable energy is underway, and it will continue. One of the most affordable and effective ways to mitigate the effects of carbon dioxide emissions is rarely discussed: plant more trees and expand forested land across the globe.
MS: Climate change is caused by many factors, not just the ongoing burning of fossil fuels. I have real-world experience in helping to combat climate change. During my time on Eagle Town Council, after rejecting Eagle County’s Climate Action Plan, we had several spirited discussions and presentations. I made the motion to pass the Town’s Resolution addressing our Climate Action Plan and it became the most aggressive plan in Eagle County. I am proud of two things we did: 1. The Town is working as a leader by example, meaning it is not forcing new practices on its community or developers without proving viability, and, 2. The Town will only take steps that are economically sustainable.
RV: In a 2020 interview U.S. Rep Lauren Boebert told me the Second Amendment “is a protection against a tyrannical government. It’s not for hunting. It’s not for target shooting or for sport.” Do you agree?
RC: The Second Amendment protects the rights of Americans to own firearms for hunting and self-protection. I strongly support it.
MS: The first gun control law in the history of the world was passed in 1661 in England, which authorized the seizing of arms from “any person judged dangerous to the Peace of the Kingdom.” This law was passed, and then expanded upon in 1671, because the State wanted more control over the population and was fearful of an uprising. When the United States of America’s Founders were drafting the Bill of Rights, the Second Amendment was the least debated amendment of the original ten. Our Founders had fresh in their memory the struggle they endured and the oppression placed upon the colonies by government and military control. The Second Amendment does not identify any reason specifically — protection against tyrannical government, hunting, personal protection, or otherwise; it is what it is – a right that shall not be infringed.
RV: Are there any gun safety measures that you would support in the state Senate?
RC: I’m all for education and helping our citizens understand gun safety. I’ve known people who were harmed by gun accidents. It’s sad and terrible. But it’s not the Government’s job to step in everywhere when people get hurt. Too many people have concluded that only Government can solve the problems we face. That is a dangerous mindset. I support gun safety, but gun control disguised as “gun safety” is a no-go for me. I will defend the Second Amendment!
MS: I cannot answer this question without seeing the measures to which you are referring. However, I remain open to reading and considering all that is presented.
RV: Colorado has a large Latin American immigration population and an ongoing labor shortage in industries from outdoor recreation to construction to agriculture. What is your stance on immigration in the current economic climate?
RC: I support increasing the number of LEGAL immigrants we allow entry to every year. The problem is ILLEGAL immigration. ILLEGAL immigration spawns a host of additional problems, is never sustainable, and is unfair to immigrants who wait in line. I support improving border security. I support new technologies on the border to accomplish that. For decades, both Republicans and Democrats have turned a blind eye to illegal immigration. Colorado has a large Latin American immigrant population, and a growing number of immigrants from all regions of the earth. We welcome them; our economy needs them! We need to support those that came here legally.
MS: As a third-generation American, I myself come from immigrant roots. Immigration is a critical issue we must address. Nations must be clear when they deal with people moving into their territories who are not citizens by birth. For example, Japan allows almost no immigration. Other nations have opened their borders for long periods of time to extensive immigration. Many policies work, but our current open border policy is not working. Instead, we should expand the categories of legal immigration with a mindful respect for the time, effort, and passion offered by those legal immigrants that already make up our citizenship. Let’s not detract from the value of our citizenship or economic climate by devaluing that citizenship with a diminishing return of entitlements.