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Penry on Pinon Canyon expansion

 by David Tesitor

WALSENBURG- There is a stark contrast between the views of Republican gubernatorial candidates Josh Penry and Scott McInnis.  McInnis is for the Pinon Canyon expansion at any cost.  Penry is not.  Penry spoke before a standing-room-only crowd at the La Plaza Inn last Friday, touting his platform and asking voters for support in his Republican nod for governor.  Penry, the Senate Minority Leader from Grand Junction, is hoping to unseat Democratic Governor, Bill Ritter in the 2010 election.

    Addressing the crowd, which included members from the Piñon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition (PCEOC), Penry’s message was simple, “Until the army takes eminent domain and condemnation off the table, I will oppose expansion.”  He was quick to point out that the training of our military is vital and that if the property rights of the ranchers are not violated, then he would not oppose expansion.  In contrast, McInnis stated to a Walsenburg audience two weeks ago, “It is not about private property rights and anyone who opposes the expansion is anti-military.”  In reply, Penry stated that McInnis’ comments are “reckless and irresponsible.  Fort Carson is important and so are property rights.”  Those comments were not well received by the members of the PCEOC.   Their goal is no expansion under any circumstances.  Penry’s comments left some doubt about where he truly stands.

    Penry answered several questions in addition to those concerning the Piñon Canyon expansion.  One concern addressed was the issue of unfair license plates fees.  Penry said that “this is one way to skirt around the Tabor laws and for an incumbent governor to impose such a tax does not sit well with any taxpayer.  This is not a partisan issue and to impose such a fee is unfair to the voters of Colorado.  They never had a chance to voice their opinion.”   He went on to say that the last two Governors to sign a bill like this were voted out of office.

    He was also asked about coalbed methane drilling and the issues facing the residents of Huerfano County as a result of Petroglyph’s drilling east of Highway 160.  Penry stated “the regulatory agencies are in place to protect environmental impacts.” He also stated, “Companies should be held accountable when they make mistakes.  We need to strike a balance between regulation and the environment that gives incentives to use the right technology.  We must keep the lights on.”

    On illegal immigration, Penry supports the E-Verify system which requires employers to verify that employees are registered in a federal database.  He also believes sanctuary cities, like Denver, should not be eligible for state aid.   On health care, he stated, “the health care proposal is a terrible idea.  We can’t afford it.  Any government-run, socialized medicine does not work.  It leads to rationing.  Just ask our neighbors to the north.”

    Penry came out  in support of state Rep. Republican candidate Lisa Kellogg, who is seeking to unseat Rep. Wes McKinley, who has been unwavering in his opposition to Army expansion.

    Penry is in a battle with McInnis and Dan Maes to win the Republician nomination to run against incumbent Bill Ritter.  His goal today was to get his platform message across.  He said his record and positions on key issues affecting all Coloradoans will help him garner the bid and help him defeat Ritter in 2010.  In closing he asked of the attendees, “You must ask yourselves are we better off in the last three years with Ritter?”