by Larry Patrick
HUERFANO- Wes McKinley, who is seeking his third term as State Representative for southeastern Colorado, was in Huerfano and Las Animas Counties last Sunday. He attended a BBQ in Aguilar on Sunday afternoon, but the Journal caught up with him as he was staying at the Sands Motel in Walsenburg.
McKinley says he is proud of his efforts in fighting off the military’s efforts to get their hands on Pinon Canyon land in southeast Colorado. McKinley says his sponsoring of a bill in 2007 that amended state law on how the military can or cannot acquire property was important. He says that Colorado is the only state to enact an amendment of state law to make it harder for the military to use condemnation and eminent domain for land acquisition. McKinley said he was told by many, that he couldn’t stop eminent domain measures of the military but says that the limiting amendment got through the legislative process handily this past session.
Since many in the military don’t pay state taxes, the Pinon Canyon expansion would not be as beneficial to the overall state of Colorado but does have many benefits for the city of Colorado Springs since they are the military hub of the state. The army has trimmed downward the amount of land that it says it is now seeking. McKinley says they could probably purchase a large part of the 100,000 acres it now wants but that’s a far cry from using condemnation or eminent domain rules the way they were, to take land.
Roads and bridges are another big concern for southeastern Colorado according to McKinley. Getting work done on the I-25 corridor in this area of the state has been important. A lot of work is being done currently on I-25 in the Trinidad area. Other state highways in southeast Colorado are also getting attention.
Oil and gas drilling is another big topic of concern in this area of Colorado. McKinley is a rancher but also has a background in oil & gas. He says that there needs to be a balance between the landowners and the oil and gas industry to protect water while bringing forth economic development.
McKinley is being opposed this term by outgoing Las Animas County Commissioner, Ken Torres. Both candidates will be spending a lot of time campaigning in southeastern Colorado in the months prior to the November general election.