Ballots are out and voting is underway in Colorado ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm election. Here in Southern Colorado, Democrat Stephany Rose Spaulding is running to unseat Republican Congressman Doug Lamborn in Congressional District 5, which covers El Paso, Teller, Fremont and Chaffee counties, as well as parts of Park County.
We've interviewed Lamborn. As for Spaulding, she is a professor of Women’s and Ethnic Studies at UCCS and a senior pastor at Ebeneezer Baptist Church in Colorado Springs. She spoke with 91.5 KRCC about why she’s running for Congress and what she hopes to accomplish if elected.
91.5 KRCC: First of all I'd like to just ask why you decided to run for Congress.
Spaulding: Well I decided after the 2016 election cycle that left so many people in a state of despair and hopelessness. For me as a person that sits in so many different places, it was asking myself, “how do we provide hope and the kind of inspiration that is needed to help people move forward?”
91.5 KRCC: The 5th Congressional District has long been a safe Republican seat -- it has been held by Republicans ever since the district was created in the 1970s. What makes you think this race will be different?
Spaulding: I have seen how this area has changed and continues to change. It is an influx of millennials, progressives, and an influx of people who are returning and retiring here. And when I think about that I recognize that, though we may have been there in the past, I do not believe that's who we are in the future. That's not to say that those ideas aren't valuable but there's just growth happening all around us. As I travel and have the kinds of conversations that I am having with constituents they too see that something different is on our horizon.
91.5 KRCC: What are you hearing from people, especially around the types of issues that they want to see addressed in Congress?
Spaulding: Housing -- that comes up a lot, whether you are here in Colorado Springs or in Salida or Buena Vista, because there's a shortage and there's a shortage of affordable housing. There's also the larger umbrella of health care. People tend to have conversations around the costs and insurance, but again when I'm in Chaffee County or Park County where there are no doctors or medical facilities in Park County, there are no pharmacies in Park County. There's a different conversation around access. The environment is another major point that people are looking at. Our watersheds and protecting our national public lands, wildfires. So there's a lot that's on the minds and hearts of people throughout this district
91.5 KRCC: So you mentioned affordable housing. What do you think that, as a representative in Congress, you could do to help folks who are dealing with rising rents and lack of affordable housing?
Spaulding: So at the federal level, it’s making sure that the Housing Authority is not being undermined by the current director and that people have programs that are able to help them in markets that are rising. So making sure those programs are taken care of and making sure that we're working with federal grant programs that allow people to buy homes and get the loans that they need at an affordable rate.
91.5 KRCC: And you also mentioned health care, obviously that's been a big contentious fight for a long time. What do you support as far as health care programs? Do you support Medicare for all these calls for universal coverage?
Spaulding: I do. I do support Medicare for all. And I understand that if we are going to be competitive in the 21st century and 22nd century that we have to make sure that people are healthy, whole and well. And for me it's not just about the cost of health care. It's addressing the shortage in nurses that we are experiencing, the shortage in medical providers that we're experiencing, the cost of prescription drugs how, we get access to those prescription drugs. All of those things have very concrete impacts on people of CD 5.
91.5 KRCC: Obviously the national political climate is extremely polarized. What would you view as your role and your mission in relation to that polarization and the kind of political climate that we find ourselves in at the moment?
Spaulding: By trade, I'm a professor so I'm always going to be leading in educating ourselves. I'm always going to be leading as well in terms of where we are in our spirit. I'm a pastor by calling, right? And then I'm also a specialist of diversity, equity and inclusion, and my work centers on how to have difficult conversations where everyone does not necessarily agree but we recognize the value of our voices? So for me, it is how do we bring people to the table? How do we listen without intent to respond? To hear each other and then build consensus around what we absolutely need.
This interview was edited for broadcast. Listen to our full conversation with Stephany Rose Spaulding here: