Q&A with Teri Nilson Baird, Democratic candidate for HD 64

Tabatha Stewart
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 10/7/18

Tell us a little about yourself. I live on a small ranch east of Kiowa, where my husband and I raise llamas. We moved here in 1997, seeking escape from the stress of Washington, D.C. I am retired …

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Q&A with Teri Nilson Baird, Democratic candidate for HD 64

Posted

Tell us a little about yourself.

I live on a small ranch east of Kiowa, where my husband and I raise llamas. We moved here in 1997, seeking escape from the stress of Washington, D.C. I am retired from the USDA. As a second career, I earned my master of divinity from the Iliff School of Theology in Denver and became a Christian pastor. I am the lead pastor on a team experimenting with a new church start on Saturday evenings at my home congregation, South Broadway Christian Church.

What makes you the best choice for this office?

I believe my resume shows me to be well-rounded, with a variety of experiences which relate well to the challenges of House District 64. From my 10 years working for the U.S. Senate, I learned legislative process. From my time with the USDA, I learned the rural areas of the state and the challenges of living even farther out than I do now. I was also part of the working group for the National Animal ID Program, as the representative for llamas and alpacas. I have experience working with provision of high-speed internet, and I know the challenges of not being able to get quality health care reasonably close to home.

What can the Legislature do to ease the strain of rising housing prices on Colorado residents?

Prices here along the Front Range are out of reach for many families. The area has experienced such growth in housing availability and employment opportunities that reins should be applied. Ordinarily, the counties would do this through their planning process. However, that process is political and there is no commonality among the various counties comprising the Denver metro area. The Legislature should step in where counties refuse to put conditions on development. The impact of unrestrained development is particularly hard on infrastructure, such as roads and schools. Peripherally, health care is also affected with so many people gravitating to Denver. Have we enough medical professionals in the state? Likely we do, but they are concentrated in the cities.

What can be done to ensure the state’s transportation system will be able to accommodate continued population growth?

It is incumbent upon the counties to mandate smart growth. Not all growth is positive; not all taxes collected come without strings. For instance, the Elbert County commissioners just approved a 900-dwelling plan for a new development on the border with Douglas County off a two-lane county road. Their studies apparently indicated that people would travel to Elizabeth for shopping rather than stopping in Parker on their way home. This isn’t realistic. In the quest for more tax dollars, Elbert County has planned a community whose negative impact will be almost completely on a bordering county. Roads must be done first; this is part of a normal master plan. However, this one is completely backwards. The housing will lead to much more traffic on Hilltop Road than it was ever designed to handle. We need to be able to look ahead and stick to a plan and have developers pay in advance to augment roads.

What two issues demand more attention in the upcoming legislative session than they received in the previous one, and why?

I am focusing on the needs of House District 64. The district is huge, going west to the Douglas County line and east to Kansas; north, to Washington County, and south, to the New Mexico/Oklahoma/Kansas border. The issue of growth seen in western Elbert County is completely foreign to the residents of Springfield, who would love to see some growth. However, there are a few needs common throughout the district: broadband internet connectivity and health-care availability. Broadband is no longer a luxury: we need to be connected to the outside world. A cell tower isn’t a sufficient signal to meet the FCC definition of high-speed, especially when it is shared between voice traffic and data traffic. Our outlying communities desperately need local health-care options. My generation is at retirement age: we need more options for health care. Where shall we go when we require more care than we receive in our small towns?

If elected, what must you accomplish in order for you to consider your term a success?

I would like to pull a working group together to address the issue of outmigration on the eastern plains. There are no longer many jobs in these small towns. As the population ages, younger people are leaving to complete an education and not coming back: the jobs aren’t there. I would like to see a plan developed to give each community access to terrestrial broadband connectivity, and I would like to see it rolled out. I would like to see local two-year colleges focus on the needs of those communities, and educate the population based on the needs in those locations.

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