Apr 182006
Authors: JAMES BAETKE The Rocky Mountain Collegian

United States Sen. Ken Salazar boot-scooted through Larimer County on Monday, making a pit stop in Fort Collins addressing some of his biggest concerns in Washington, D.C., including the war in Iraq, energy independence and healthcare.

“It’s my pleasure to be here in Larimer County,” Salazar said. “The eyes of the nation are on Colorado.”

The Colorado General Assembly’s switch from a Republican-held body to a Democratic majority in both the House and Senate gives some in the United States hope that the same scenario could unfold at the federal level, Salazar said.

Republicans are leaving the minority Democrats out of the loop on every issue possible and the Bush Administration has been working in “isolation,” Salazar said.

Salazar is a Colorado Democrat who has been serving in Congress for 14 months. He was elected in 2004 against Republican brew master Pete Coors and once served as Colorado’s Attorney General.

The CSU Young Democrats, Larimer County Democrats, hopeful local candidates and past elected officials filled a banquet room in Fort Collins’ Lincoln Center.

Meeting with President George W. Bush recently, Salazar said he had a chance to personally address his concerns for the war in Iraq.

“The comment I made to the president was that we needed more competent administration in regards to what is happening on the grounds of Iraq,” he said. “You cannot have a military solution in Iraq.”

Although military action is not working in Iraq, Americans should still support the troops overseas, he said.

In the wake of the record-breaking oil prices, Salazar said U.S. energy dependence should weigh heavy on the minds of Americans.

“We need to do a lot more on conservation,” Salazar said, who wants the United States to produce 25 percent of American energy from renewable resources.

Salazar also took a moment Monday to endorse fellow Democrats in Colorado vying for elected office: Current state Rep. Angie Paccione, D-Fort Collins, trying to win over the Fourth Congressional District; and Bill Ritter, former Denver District Attorney and a candidate in Colorado’s gubernatorial race.

“Bill Ritter is truly a servant leader. We do not have enough authentic leaders (like Ritter) running for things,” Salazar said.

A few individuals expressed distaste with Salazar’s Congressional reign, but many more supported and cheered on their representative.

“Salazar has just been OK for me,” said Jodi Wilkerson of Windsor. “As a Democrat, he doesn’t fully impress me.”

Nick Powler, a Fort Collins resident, said he couldn’t ask for a better lawmaker.

“Out of about a dozen e-mails I have sent to Ken Salazar, he or someone from his office, have answered every one,” Powler said.

James Baetke can be reached at regional@collegian.com

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