Opinion

? Maysmith: Why Woods is wrong choice for Colorado’s outdoor spaces

Author: Pete Maysmith - October 19, 2016 - Updated: October 17, 2016

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Pete Maysmith
Pete Maysmith

Colorado’s mountains, valleys, plains, and parks are essential not just to our quality of life, but to our booming outdoor recreation economy. As Coloradans, we’re deeply aware of how important our outdoor heritage is to our state’s brand and identity, and why our elected officials must enact policies to protect it. Indeed, 74 percent of Colorado voters told pollsters earlier this year that they are more likely to support a candidate who will protect access to outdoor spaces.

This is why, in order to win political office in Colorado, you must demonstrate your sincere support for public lands.

It appears as though embattled state Senator Laura Woods — who represents a district in Jefferson County that is the gateway to open space and to the mountains — recognizes this but is attempting to hide her record by saying one thing and doing the opposite.

Woods has one of the worst records that we’ve ever seen when it comes to protecting our lands. In her entire time in office, she has voted the wrong way on every single bill that would protect public lands that Conservation Colorado has scored in our annual scorecard. She voted for two bills that could result in our public lands sold off to the highest bidder (SB 16-160 and SB 15-039), she voted to study the costly proposition of turning our public lands over to the state (SB 15-232), and she was one of the only legislators to vote against a simple holiday recognizing the benefits that our public lands offer (SB 16-021).

And, she has also been no friend to clean air and clean water; she also voted to roll back Colorado’s thriving renewable energy industry (SB15-044) and sided with polluters to make it more difficult for the state to hold polluters accountable for contaminating our drinking water (SB 16-117).

Yet, rather than admit to her mistakes and vow to voters that she will do better, Woods seems to be trying to take a page from the Trump playbook: pretending her failures or missteps don’t exist while simultaneously doubling down on them. Take, for example, the fact that she is running paid advertisements describing her “solid” record on public lands. Or how in this very publication, she recently tried to defend her record on the issues.

Unfortunately, not once in her 595-word piece — nor anywhere on her website — does she offer a shred of evidence for her statement that her “record reflects” her support of conservation. In other words, Woods’ claims that she is a champion for our national parks and public lands are demonstrably false.

Public lands and other environmental issues aren’t the only places where Woods is out of step with her constituents. In fact, when she was first voted into office she joined a faction of the most conservative Republican senators, which was referred to as “the Hateful Eight.” This group obstructed the political process and worked to block bills that they argued “were not conservative enough.”

And, look no further than Woods’ continued, stalwart commitment to Donald Trump — even after his vulgar and demeaning comments about women — to see how blindly she follows the fringe factions of her party. Just last week she joined other Colorado Republicans in signing a letter stating that they “fully support the Republican nominee for President Donald J. Trump.” But here’s what Woods fundamentally misunderstands: in Colorado we work together to get things done, and we don’t stand in way of progress because of ideological skirmishes.

Woods’ opponent, Rachel Zenzinger, will be a true champion for our environment, public lands and Colorado way of life. During her previous time in office, Zenzinger received a 100 percent score on our annual conservation scorecard. She voted to protect Colorado’s environment in myriad ways, from supporting solar energy to enacting cost-saving energy efficiency measures to strengthening penalties on polluters who break the law.

It’s time for real leadership in Senate District 19, not vague promises and defenses and blind idealism. Our Western heritage and Colorado way of life depends on it.

Pete Maysmith

Pete Maysmith is the executive director of Conservation Colorado.