It is certainly no secret our State Senator Randy Baumgardner has long been an embarrassment to the citizens of the district he represents. After well-substantiated charges of sexual harassment against a legislative aide during the 2016 legislative session were brought to light, Baumgardner stepped down as Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. We would be better served if he resigned altogether.
In 2009 I made a visit to the State House of Representatives when Baumgardner served as our State Representative as I “lobbied” to pass a bill, the passage of which allowed for roof-top collection of rainwater in addition to or as a replacement for a domestic well permit. The Grand Huts Association needed this legislation to make legal the planned water system for the new Broome Hut on Berthoud Pass.
My friend Emily Arell, a key Democratic aide in the state legislature, helped me drive this innovative bill through the process. We met briefly with Randy on the house floor, where he encouraged me to vote for him in the next election. After leaving the floor, Emily related her disbelief he was campaigning while on the house floor.
In 2012, while running for the State Senate, the Denver Post reported Baumgardner had an unregistered sex offender living in his house in Hot Sulphur Springs. Baumgardner voted against a comprehensive re-write of the state’s sex offender registration laws in 2011, laws designed to protect community members from those with a history of sexual offences. Baumgardner’ s tenant Michael Frierson pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of sexual assault and received five years’ probation for incidents in 2004 involving a victim younger than 14.
During my unsuccessful run for County Commissioner in the fall of 2016 I visited with Ida Sheriff, a true Grand County pioneer on her Sheriff Ranch next door to land Randy leases for cattle. One of the kindest women in the county related how Randy’s cows had found their way to her hay meadow, prompting a friendly call to her neighbor in hopes the trespassing bovines could be shepherded back home.
To say Randy responded rudely to this respectful request would be putting it mildly. Ida pointed out she was a senior neighbor (in her 80’s) merely seeking help. This did not seem to make any impression on our community representative. His cows, he said, were her problem.
While serving as Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee in 2016, Baumgardner successfully shot down a hugely popular bill which would have tightened requirements for adequate tires and chains on state highways. This was a perfect example of how out of touch our Senator is to the needs of a recreation based economy, one which suffers hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost revenue when an inadequately prepared vehicle shuts down I-70 on a weekend morning.
These and more incidents paint a clear picture of arrogant man who does not represent the kind and talented citizens of northwest Colorado. Senate Republicans should join their Democratic colleagues who have called for Baumgardner to resign. We should not have to wait for 2020 when the sorted tenure of Randy Baumgardner finally meets its term limited end.
Andy Miller works to navigate many public paths in our small valley without conflict while serving beneath many hats. He welcomes feedback on this and any other topic at firstname.lastname@example.org.