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Publish Date: 10/8/2006

Newcomer challenges veteran for Senate District 15


For Larimer County’s Senate District 15, this year’s race pits a 10-year legislative veteran against a newcomer who says she has politics in her blood.

Republican Steve Johnson has served three terms in the state House of Representatives and one term in the Senate and wants another round at it.

“I enjoy the job. I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t enjoy it,” Johnson said. “You shouldn’t do this job unless you think you’re making a difference for the state.”

Democrat Jennifer Miller says her work as a sign language interpreter has helped her communicate with people on all sides.

“I’ve had to interpret both perspectives,” she said.

It’s that experience, she said, that will make her a successful state senator for District 15.

Miller has been active in politics almost her whole life — in high school, she used to organize rallies — and now she wants to get involved at the state level, she said.

“I just love Larimer County so much,” she said. “It’s been so good to me. ... I want to give back to Larimer County.”

Johnson said prison overcrowding is the most pressing issue facing the state.

“We’re out of prison beds in November in the state of Colorado,” he said.

Johnson would support preventive measures, such as substance-abuse treatments, to keep people out of prison, he said.

“I think it’s going to be unwise to just take the approach that we will just keep building our way out of this problem,” he said. “If we provide substance-abuse treatment, overall we will save much more in incarceration costs.”

Health care would be at the top of Miller’s list, closely followed by education and transportation, she said.

The state should look at funding health care for the uninsured, through different funding sources. Lawmakers also should study laws in other states to help every resident receive affordable and accessible health care, she said.

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