(Editor’s Note: The Business Journal asked the candidates at the local, state and national level their stances on business issues that affect Colorado Springs and the state. Their answers will be published online in the days leading up to the election. Tomorrow, see the responses from candidates for the U.S. Senate race: Darryl Glenn and Michael Bennet.)

House District 20 covers parts of El Paso County. Candidates for this race are Republican Terri Carver, the incumbent, and Democrat Julia Endicott, her challenger.

TERRI CARVER

Carver is a former member of the Air Force Reserve, where she served as a judge advocate general. She was also a civilian attorney at Air Force Space Command and has instructed at the college level about energy development and the environment, space law and policy.

She volunteers with The Home Front Cares and is a teacher liaison to the Space Foundation. She is the former chairwoman of the Colorado Springs Utilities Policy Advisory Committee.

 

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What do you think of the Colorado business climate? What needs to change?

Our economy is still struggling and many people are not able to find full-time, well-paid jobs with a future. We have a disconnect between our current education system and the skills our local employers need. We must expand access for high school students and those with a GED to a wide range of post-secondary training and educational opportunities. Not everyone wants to go to a four-year university.

I supported numerous bills to expand workforce development options in Colorado — the focus for these training programs has been a collaboration between industry, community colleges and high schools to make technical training classes available, so the high school students can choose a training path leading to a good job with a future.

 

What issue important to businesses do you plan to tackle if elected?

Improving our transportation infrastructure is the top priority — workforce development is a close second. I supported a transportation bonding bill that would have raised $3.5 billion (without raising taxes) to address deteriorating roads and bridges, and traffic gridlock. Given the expected population growth in Colorado, we must act now to address our backlog of transportation maintenance and additional transportation capacity. I am committed to finding a bipartisan solution to our transportation infrastructure crisis in Colorado.

Widening I-25 from Monument to Castle Rock is essential to our economic growth and public safety. I have joined a collaborative discussion with other elected officials from Front Range communities to work together on widening this 17-mile segment of the I-25 corridor between Colorado Springs and Denver. It is unacceptable to wait 10 years (or more) to complete this project.

 

In your view, what are the top industries in Colorado and how should we attract more and retain the businesses we have?

One of the strengths of Colorado is our diverse economy — high-tech companies, advanced manufacturing, sports, aerospace and military sectors, tourism, and energy development. We must build on these strengths, both statewide and in El Paso County. I was proud to support the establishment of our National Cybersecurity Center at UCCS. This is a significant engine for job growth in our region. Colorado Springs is Olympic City USA — the premier location for national sporting organizations and events, as well as a top tourist attraction. Our aerospace and military sector (five military installations) are critically important to our local and state economies. One of my bills addressed military transportation needs — protecting our bases from future closure.

We attract and retain businesses, based on the following factors: a skilled workforce, functional and sustainable transportation infrastructure that keeps pace with population growth, a balanced regulatory environment, quality of life, excellent schools, and reliable and affordable energy and water. State law and policy impacts all these areas. I will continue to work hard in conjunction with our local community leaders to advocate for a strong, pro-business climate in Colorado.

 

What can the state do to support business and economic development?

We must address and solve our short-term and long-term transportation infrastructure needs. Colorado must do more to improve its business regulatory climate and encourage new business start-ups and entrepreneurship. I am committed to reducing regulatory burdens that are strangling small businesses. I introduced a comprehensive regulatory reform bill, which unfortunately was voted down in committee. I will continue to work for sensible regulatory reform. I will also continue to support initiatives to strengthen workforce development options in Colorado. I was successful in passing a bill to streamline the process for our veterans to obtain occupational licenses — expediting the transition to civilian jobs and helping to retain talent in Colorado. Our outstanding higher education institutions in Colorado such as UCCS and [Pikes Peak Community College] are essential to economic development. I will continue to be a strong supporter for higher education funding.

 

What infrastructure is needed to support business development?

A well-maintained transportation system is necessary for both quality of life and for our economy to grow — businesses have a disincentive to locate in a state with deteriorating transportation infrastructure. We need a comprehensive plan to fund more capacity while maintaining existing infrastructure. We had several transportation funding bills in 2016 that provided a viable funding stream, but none passed. I am committed to finding a bipartisan solution to these challenges.

 

JULIA ENDICOTT

Endicott works for SRAM, a bicycle component design and manufacturing company. She has two sons, Jackson and Johnathan. She has a bachelor of arts degree in English and is a technical writer for the company. While in college, Endicott founded the first liberal on-campus student organization at the University of Texas in Tyler. She also organized the first on-campus feminist event. She’s lived in Colorado Springs since 2014.

 

What do you think of the Colorado business climate? What needs to change?

I believe the Colorado business climate is one of the best in the U.S., in 2015 Forbes ranked Colorado as the fifthbest states for business. Forbes wrote, “Colorado had the fourth-fastest job growth over the past five years with a five-year annual [Gross State Product] growth of 2.2 percent.” However, many of the new jobs are dedicated to the security and computer sector. I would like to entice more creative companies to move to Colorado. Also, with Colorado’s economy growing so quickly, we haven’t seen our housing market keep up. As a result, there has been a drastic increase in cost of living with stagnant salaries for many Coloradans. This is one reason I support a “living wage” and equal pay for all Coloradans.

 

What issue important to businesses do you plan to tackle if elected?

Just as we have seen a rise in the cost of living with not enough housing on the market, many businesses experience an equally difficult time finding commercial space. I think increasing commercial space development can be beneficial to businesses that use the space and businesses who build or renovate these spaces.

 

In your view, what are the top industries in Colorado and how should we attract more and retain the businesses we have?

A few of the top industries in Colorado include aerospace, defense and homeland security and high-tech companies. To attract and retain new businesses as well as retain the ones we have, we need to develop more housing for employees as well as commercial space.

 

What can the state do to support business and economic development?

I would like to bring together Colorado’s industry leaders and top performers, economists, college students, as well as small business owners to learn more about where they see business lagging behind, where our future college graduates are interested in working, and what we can do as a state to continue business and job growth.

 

What infrastructure is needed to support business development?

Colorado’s taxes are reasonable to businesses and very competitive with other states. Also, Colorado’s natural beauty is an incentive for new businesses to set up shop in Colorado. On the other hand, Colorado has not invested in infrastructure in a long time. Our roads and highways are in desperate need of repair, and as I mentioned earlier, the lack of commercial space and housing negatively affects not only businesses, but their employees. We must invest in our local projects, like the Cimarron exchange in Colorado Springs.  While we want to create new jobs for Coloradans we also benefit from those that relocate to the state, let’s not forget when people move to Colorado they bring with them their pocket books. More people equal more money, which is good for business and good for Colorado, but these people need housing.