2022 Colorado Primary
STATE SENATE SD11 CANDIDATE
THOMAS “TONY” EXUM
What experience (personal, professional, other) would you bring to your role as Senator that will benefit our state?
I’ve lived in southeast Colorado Springs for more than 60 years. After serving more than 35 years as a firefighter with the CSFD, rising to the rank of Battalion Chief, I retired in 2010. I then won election in 2012 to serve in the Colorado House of Representatives, as the representative from District 17 – covering Southeast Colorado Springs. I won election again in 2016, 2018, and 2020. I currently sit on the House’s Education committee and serve as Chair of the House’s Transportation and Local Government committee. I also serve on the Board of my church, the Solid Rock Christian Center, and I’m an umpire/referee for youth sports. All of this experience improves my work as an elected state legislator.
What is your vision for being a Colorado State Senator?
I’m running for the State Senate to continue representing and helping my constituents: students, low- income families, people of color, the elderly, military personnel, first responders, and everyone in Senate District 11. I’ve had people tell me they were worried about not being able to drink clean water, which is why I introduced and passed bills to reduce water contamination from toxic PFAS firefighting foams. I listen when people tell me they want safer schools, better education, environmental protections, police accountability, and improved elder care, among other things; and I work hard to support legislation addressing those issues. I believe my legislative record proves that. I’m running again to continue doing this good work.
Do you believe that elections in Colorado should be conducted differently? Should voters in Colorado be required to verify their identity and residential status in the respective counties in which they vote? Are you in favor of a single-day, in-person voting system consisting of all-paper ballots? Why or why not?
Colorado has one of the best election systems in the country. People must present a valid form of ID in order to register to vote, and you can register to vote even on election day itself, which is a good thing. Once you’re registered, the state mails your ballot to you weeks before election day, so you have time to research the candidates and issues before you vote. You can then return your ballot by mail, or by ballot drop boxes, or by going directly to the county clerk’s office. Or, if you don’t want to vote by mail, you can vote in person, weeks before the election or on election day itself. Our system is good, secure, and accurate.
Protecting the Most Vulnerable
As a Senator, how would you seek to protect the most vulnerable in our state, including the lives of the unborn, the trafficked, and the elderly?
I have always worked to protect vulnerable people from exploitation and abuse. And my legislative record shows it. Over the last 6 years, I’ve voted on nearly a dozen bills related to human trafficking: helping law enforcement identify and intercept human trafficking rings; increasing the penalties for convicted traffickers; and helping children and women get the services they need to adjust to life after trafficking, among other bills. And with elder care, I’ve supported bills to increase oversight in elder care facilities, to help prevent abuse; I’ve passed bills expanding the health and medical services available to elders; and expanded access to state services for the elderly, blind, and disabled. I will continue supporting vulnerable peoples in the State Senate.
What will you do as Colorado State Senator to protect our 1st Amendment rights to: the free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, peaceably assembly, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances, all of which are becoming more difficult to exercise in America (and around the world)?
As a man of faith, my religion is important to me and a prominent aspect of my life. In fact, it is because I am religious, and because I have faced discrimination because of the color of my skin, that I am against the idea of people using their religion as an excuse to be bigoted, disguising intolerance as religious freedom. I believe it is critical that we continue to fight to protect our first amendment rights, and I believe our community should be a safe, inclusive place for everyone.
Do you believe that gun ownership is a civil right, and what are your positions in regards to red flag laws, magazine capacity bans, legislation that regulates gun storage, and permitless “Constitutional carry”?
Some guns have a place in American life, for hunting, sport, and home defense. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. When rights are abused, though, that’s a problem. I believe military-style weapons have no place in civilian hands or in our communities, and keeping deadly weapons out of the hands of dangerous people should always be our top priority. This is why I’ve supported bills to close background check loopholes, and why I’ve also supported bills requiring waiting periods, because “in the heat of the moment” is not when anyone should be given a gun. I’ve also supported legislation requiring the safe storage of firearms in houses with children in them, among other sensible measures.
Do you believe that the government has the legal power and authority to dictate what a person does with his or her body? If so, how?
There’s always a choice to be made between what a government can do and what it should do. A government can use its inherent police powers to protect public health by requiring certain vaccinations, as laws and courts have consistently upheld, but many people believe the government shouldn’t do that. A government can find ways to restrict abortion access or gun ownership, but again, many people believe the government shouldn’t do that. Every time the government has the legal power to do something, it also has a moral responsibility to decide whether or not to do that thing. How a government should act in any situation depends on the circumstances of that situation.
As a State Senator, what will you do to improve the education of our K – 12 students? What is your position on parental authority in education, including school choice?
This is not a question which can be answered in just 120 words, so let me say this: As a member of the House’s Education committee, I am very aware of the problems facing our public education system – from strained funding sources, to deteriorating buildings and vehicles, to teacher shortages, and curriculum controversies – and I have worked as a legislator to help address these problems, and I’ve run many bills myself to help solve some of them. If I am elected into the State Senate, as I hope I will be, I will continue working with teachers, students, parents, administrators, and elected officials to improve our whole education system, not just K-12 but also higher education too.
School District Taxes
Do you believe that the Colorado legislature should make any adjustment to the level of taxes paid by residents in order to fund school district budgets? If so, how?
For decades in Colorado, school districts were funded mostly by local property taxes, with some money coming from the State. But for years now, school districts have been mostly funded by the State, with some money coming from local property taxes. These funding ratios have effectively reversed, and that’s been bad for public school funding. The State simply can’t afford to be the primary payer for all public education in Colorado. We need to find ways to better balance these funding dynamics – and fixing TABOR, Gallagher, and Amendment 23 are three very obvious and effective ways to begin improving the funding situation for public education.
National Popular Vote
What is your position on Colorado joining the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which would effectively eliminate the electoral college’s role in presidential elections in favor of a national popular vote?
It’s public record that as a member of our state legislature in 2019 I supported and voted for the bill which joined Colorado to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.
Candidate was sent the questionnaire late due to our error, and has not confirmed receipt, though we sought to contact her multiple times and by various methods. Therefore, we do not know if the Candidate is even aware of the opportunity to participate in the Voter Guide, or whether she is aware and chose not to participate.
Email Address: CS.YolandaAvila@gmail.com
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