Republican Cleave Simpson is in the running to represent the 35th Senate District, which encompasses a large swath of land in southeast Colorado. Simpson, a rancher who moonlights as the general manager of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District and a member of the Adams State University Board of Trustees, looks to succeed fellow Republican Larry Crowder.
What is your top issue for the next legislative session, and how do you plan to fix it?
Simpson: The growing divide between rural and urban Colorado and the challenges of rural Colorado to remain relevant, resilient and prosperous. With the expectation of a doubling of the State’s population over the next 30 years and the lions share of that population continuing in the urban front range corridor, the potential marginalization of the rural voice is a real concern. I intend to be fully engaged with my urban legislators and help them understand and appreciate the value of a vibrant rural Colorado to the rest of the state. Being a farmer and rancher, I am confident the entire state will appreciate what rural Colorado can provide to the rest of the State in the form of dependable, reliable, affordable food supply. We can put meat, potatoes, fruits, vegetables, milk and dairy products on all tables across the state, if we don’t dry up our irrigated agriculture or regulate them out of business. I am passionate about rural Colorado, the faith, family and work ethic that have sustained rural Colorado for 150-plus years.
How can the legislature address the state’s housing and cost of living issues?
Simpson: By being mindful of the impacts of over-regulation and over-taxing on the business community. Keeping housing and living expenses down are a function of a healthy economy, much of which is driven by the State’s small business community. I understand most of these important issues involve a sense of balance. I just want to make sure balance and stakeholder engagement are part of the conversation at the capitol and legislation is thoughtful and meaningful.
Should COVID-19 be handled more at a local level or from a top-level approach in the state?
Simpson: Instinctively, I think the control should come more from the local level. The current kind of broad brush approach certainly has not served rural Colorado well. We would need to make sure local jurisdictions have access to all the relative, important information for making public health decisions for their community and are coordinating with the State. I certainly have heard these concerns over the last couple of months in the rural counties of Senate District 35, and the consistent message is more local control.