From left: Democrat Gail Schwartz, Republican incumbent Scott Tipton and Libertarian Gaylon Kent. 

(Photos: Courtesy Schwartz campaign, U.S. House of Representatives, Kent campaign)

Libertarian Gaylon Kent and Democrat Gail Schwartz are challenging incumbent Republican Scott Tipton in Colorado's 3rd Congressional District, which covers the Western Slope and Pueblo. 

More Voter Guides | Election 2016 Coverage

As of June 30, Tipton had raised more than $1.1 million, Schwartz a little more than $622,000, and Kent $0. Updated figures are due from the Federal Election Commission on Oct. 15.

Tipton, Schwartz and Kent answered the following questions about issues they may face if elected.

The answers below are directly from the candidates, edited only for style.

What areas of federal spending should be increased? What should be cut?

Gail Schwartz
(Democrat)
'Increased: investments in broadband and education; transportation infrastructure for safety, better transit, and construction jobs; research and development of many types to maintain U.S. competitive advantages and provide beneficial products. Decreased: oil and gas subsidies; stronger attention to detail on procurement so we can cut spending based on evidence; subsidies for corporations that ship too many jobs overseas."

Scott Tipton
(Republican)

"With a $19.5 trillion national debt, we have a problem with reckless spending across the board at the federal level."
Gaylon Kent
(Libertarian)
"Oh the budget is too large for me to answer this. I will say that if we had an economy anchored in low taxes and free markets, we would have more Americans working and making better wages. This would result in a large decrease in our welfare programs, which is a good place to start."
Do you support the Paris climate change deal that the U.S. agreed to in 2015? Why or why not?
Gail Schwartz (Democrat) "Yes. We have recently seen atmospheric CO2 concentrations of above 400 PPM, a dangerous level if we hope to avoid serious impacts. For Colorado, warming over time threatens our water supplies, snowmelt patterns, agriculture, ecosystem, and vulnerability to wildfires. With a growing population, diminished water supplies will impact our quality of life. Beyond Colorado, climate change is leading to severe weather and rising ocean levels that impact coastal and low-lying areas. Most important, climate change threatens our national security and must be understood and addressed."
Scott Tipton (Republican) "I do not support the Paris climate deal or any other executive order that puts our economy at a competitive disadvantage to our peers, forcing Americans to shoulder the cost for a climate deal that does nothing tangible to limit the world’s biggest polluters like China, India and Mexico."
Gaylon Kent
(Libertarian)
"I support reducing greenhouse gas emissions by treaty, but this one lacks any enforcement. There is little point to voluntary compliance."
What is the one thing the federal government could do that would have the biggest positive impact on Colorado's economy?
Gail Schwartz (Democrat) "We need stable funding levels from the federal government for items such as infrastructure, public lands, and education - and preferably an increase since we pay more in federal taxes than we get back. Our higher education institutions, federal laboratories and military bases bring significant economic activity to Colorado, and require ongoing funding. Our federal public lands, including National Parks and National Monuments, will continue to be the underpinning of our $34 billion outdoor recreation economy moving forward. Dependable federal transportation funding is necessary to support our transportation needs."
Scott Tipton (Republican) "A substantial simplification and reduction of tax rates would have the single greatest impact on Colorado’s economy."
Gaylon Kent
(Libertarian)
"Cut the federal income tax on citizens and businesses. This would give individuals more money to spend and businesses more money to meet consumer's growing demands."
How should the federal government balance the need for affordable energy with its stated goal of shifting to higher-cost renewable sources?
Gail Schwartz 
(Democrat)
"Economies of scale are already bringing down the price of renewables, and will continue making them increasingly more competitive. In the Colorado of 2016, we still use coal and natural gas for the majority of our electricity, while renewables still have room to grow. This is also true at the national level, although natural gas has overtaken coal as the top fuel. Prices of traditional fuels fluctuate based on market forces and geology, so it is likely energy pricing trends will respond over time, guiding business and societal decisions regarding our energy mix."
Scott Tipton (Republican) "I believe that the government should embrace a true all-of-the-above energy plan that develops all of our energy resources to meet the demands of the American people. I have introduced the Planning for American Energy Act to help lay the groundwork for such a plan."
Gaylon Kent
(Libertarian)
"The government should get out of the energy business and let the free market dictate what energy sources are utilized."
Should western states, including Colorado, assume control of federally owned land? (See here for a good explanation of this issue.) Why or why not?
Gail Schwartz (Democrat) "I don’t support turning federal public lands over to states for wholesale leasing or sale. In Colorado, our combination of revenue retention limits and mandatory spending means we are subject to a very tight state budget, leaving little margin to afford land management – especially if there are catastrophic wildfires. If states can’t afford management, some lands might need to be sold or leased to private interests, which could impact the public’s access, so critical to our outdoor recreation economy."

Scott Tipton
(Republican)

"I do not support any transfer of federal lands to the states."

Gaylon Kent
(Libertarian)
"I don't have an answer for this."
What are one or two changes you would like to see to federal gun laws?
Gail Schwartz (Democrat) |As a nation, we can do a better job making sure dangerous criminals can’t easily buy dangerous weapons. One step would be to close background check loopholes. We did this in Colorado, but we haven’t done it nationwide. In Colorado, background checks of all types prevent sales to criminals with violent crimes on their records, including domestic abusers. I do support the Second Amendment and the right of law-abiding citizens to own a gun."

Scott Tipton
(Republican)

"Our goal is to protect all of our communities from horrific acts of violence. Restricting law-abiding citizens’ right to bear arms raises serious constitutional concerns."
Gaylon Kent
(Libertarian)
"None. I support our Second Amendment rights without qualification or restriction. Taking into consideration the time the Second Amendment was written, and the English laws and customs that influenced it, I think this is both the letter and spirit of the Second Amendment."
Do you want to keep the Affordable Care Act and possibly make minor changes, overhaul it, or eliminate it? Please explain.
Gail Schwartz (Democrat) "I favor necessary changes but not an overhaul. One of my major concerns is the high cost of healthcare in rural Colorado, and we need to address regional disparities. Not all states have accepted Medicaid expansion, and the ACA should include Americans of lesser means who really need assistance. Examining a public option for areas with limited choice of providers could stimulate competition and reduce prices. Prescription drug prices also need to be addressed along with the escalating cost of health care. We’ve made general advances with the ACA, and we should try to fix specific deficiencies as quickly as possible."

Scott Tipton
(Republican)

"We need to repeal and replace Obamacare. With health-insurance premiums set to rise almost 40 percent in many rural areas in Colorado and 14 counties having only one option for an insurance provider, this system is broken. Certain provisions will be rolled over and included but the vast majority of the legislation needs to be re-worked from square one."
Gaylon Kent
(Libertarian)
"I would ignore the ACA. I favor allowing doctors and insurers the same access to the free market that other businesses have. Freed from government regulations, costs would come down and the need for the ACA would be obviated."
College has become unaffordable for many Americans. What would you do to make it more affordable?
Gail Schwartz (Democrat) "In Colorado, we’ve already made it possible to earn college credits while still enrolled in high school, which can help keep the overall cost of college down for the student and family. Student loan interest rate limits or refinancing must be addressed. A better-educated workforce has been shown to benefit the economy, so federal grants or affordable loans tend to be wise investments. It’s also important to continue to support our community colleges, as some students opt to complete general courses in community colleges at lower costs first, then transfer to a four-year institution to complete their degree."

Scott Tipton
(Republican)

"I think our institutions of higher education should focus money into the classroom and the education of our children. Unfortunately, Gail Schwartz made this situation worse by voting to increase in-state tuition by 28 percent as a CU regent."
Gaylon Kent
(Libertarian)
"I would stop federal education grants and loans. College began getting insanely expensive once the government started loaning and granting students tuition money. If the government stops this, college costs will come down."
Should the federal government play any role in making housing more affordable in places like Colorado? If so, what should it do?
Gail Schwartz (Democrat) "The federal government has programs to help low-income citizens with rent, and to build, buy, or rehabilitate housing units for affordable housing. State and local governments have community programs as well. I believe the federal government can play a significant role here, especially in our high-cost resort communities by modifying guidelines which will be beneficial to individuals and families in those areas spending too much on housing and or faced with a limited housing supply."

Scott Tipton
(Republican)

"Federal regulations hindering business expansion is the greatest deterrent to job-creation and thus affordable housing. Providing opportunity and high paying jobs is the most effective path to making affordable housing attainable for more Americans."
Gaylon Kent
(Libertarian)
"No. The free market should be the sole determiner of housing prices. The government must stay out of it."
Do you believe adults who came to this country illegally should have a path to citizenship? Why or why not? 
Gail Schwartz (Democrat) "I support a path to citizenship similar to the “Gang of Eight” bill the Senate passed, although the House hasn’t followed suit. We need a comprehensive plan to make sure we address key components of this complex issue, including keeping families together, background checks for those seeking citizenship, and making sure hard-working immigrants can live openly in our communities without fear of discrimination or other unfair treatment. Numerous Colorado industries (agriculture, construction, hospitality) rely on an immigrant workforce which needs to be stabilized through immigration policy."

Scott Tipton
(Republican)

"We must have a safe and secure immigration system and that means ensuring that everyone who comes into our country does so legally."
Gaylon Kent
(Libertarian)
"No. They should be allowed to stay in this country and earn a living. This nation was built on the backs of immigrants and when the work dries up they will stop coming. But they are not entitled to the benefits of citizenship."
What should the federal government do to address growing income inequality in America, and in Colorado?
Gail Schwartz (Democrat) "A moral living wage should be a priority for this country. Education and job training or retraining programs can help people qualify for higher-paying jobs. We should make sure tax loopholes and unfair practices don’t allow wealthy individuals and corporations to pay less than their fair share. We should not discount the role of collective bargaining, so employees have a better shot at middle class wages and benefits."

Scott Tipton
(Republican)

"Making sure we have equal access to education is critical in having equal opportunity for all Americans that can reduce income inequality while also increasing social mobility."
Gaylon Kent
(Libertarian)
"The best way to address income inequality is to provide everyone the opportunity to earn a good living. The best way to do this is to have an economy anchored in low taxes and free markets."
Do you think the federal government ceded too much power to the states in the Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced No Child Left Behind? Why or why not?
Gail Schwartz (Democrat) "No, but we should carefully monitor the results and adjust if necessary. For example, the process of improving turnaround schools is worthy of close scrutiny, and we know decisions on education policy can be based on political leanings. Having served as a state legislator, I trust that most states care very deeply about providing a quality education. It’s in their best interests."

Scott Tipton
(Republican)

"I believe that educational policy should be determined at the state level and that repealing and replacing No Child Left Behind was the correct move."
Gaylon Kent
Libertarian)
"No. With the exception of maintaining service academies, the government must get out of the education business."
If elected or re-elected, what one piece of legislation would you focus on? 
Gail Schwartz (Democrat) "The lack of broadband connectivity in rural areas, including rural Colorado, contributes to economic inequity. I would propose legislation to build infrastructure in order to expand service into areas with little or no connectivity first, with the goal of identifying areas that have a critical mass of people and the potential to support service and attract industry. Connectivity allows people and communities to better participate in the modern global economy and online education."

Scott Tipton
(Republican)

"My primary focus will be job-creation. There are numerous ways of going about this but with our lowest labor-force participation rate in nearly four decades this will be my number one priority."
Gaylon Kent (Libertarian) "Legislation that results in an America at peace."
Should marijuana be legalized across the country? Why or why not?
Gail Schwartz (Democrat) "I don’t believe the nation is ready for full legalization yet, although medical marijuana should be first to be legalized nationally. Hemp production and products are overdue for legalization! Plant strains exist that are high in CBD and low in THC, best for medical uses including controlling seizures. Families should not have to relocate to use these products. I would also work to ensure the federal government’s policies support state’s rights on this issue, especially in banking practices regarding marijuana businesses."

Scott Tipton
(Republican)

"Marijuana policy should be determined at the state level to avoid unintended consequences nationwide."
Gaylon Kent (Libertarian) "Yes. It's not the government's job to mandate what adults do behind closed doors. I do not favor government regulation, however, merely the elimination of penalties for growing, selling and possessing weed."
What should the federal government do to improve the long-term financial viability of Medicare and Social Security?
Gail Schwartz (Democrat) "Both Medicare and Social Security represent solemn promises we’ve made to hard-working Americans, and we must live up to these promises. I will resist privatizing Social Security and a voucher system for Medicare, in part because both could impact seniors on fixed incomes. If we face Social Security financial balance problems, strategies should be considered to protect longer-term solvency. Medicare will need to focus on cost containment, including not overspending on drugs and careful monitoring to prevent fraud."
Scott Tipton
(Republican)
"We have the lowest labor force participation rate in nearly four decades. Creating jobs and putting people back to work to pay into the system is the single most important step we can take right now."
Gaylon Kent (Libertarian)

"We can start with a flourishing economy anchored in low taxes and free markets. Good things will come from that, like stability for Social Security and Medicare."

Do you support raising the federal minimum wage? Why, or why not?
Gail Schwartz (Democrat) "The federal minimum wage should increase, but the big question is by how much. Coloradans will be voting on a $12 statewide minimum wage by 2020, and there are studies suggesting this could be a good general target for a nationwide wage. Workers making today’s minimum wages have very little purchasing power, especially with the skyrocketing costs of housing. An increase will help people afford things beyond bare basics, and can help reduce expenditures on public assistance programs. Increasing minimum wages too quickly could force companies to cut jobs, so I favor an incremental approach."
Scott Tipton
(Republican)
"Minimum wage is another area I feel is best served at the local level as different geographic areas even within a state can have vastly different costs of living."
Gaylon Kent 
(Libertarian)
"No. The government has no business mandating wages. A wage, or any benefit, is a private contract between employer and employee. Any worker not happy with what they make is free to put the work in to earn the living they want."
What changes should be made to the federal tax code?
Gail Schwartz (Democrat) "Many people favor simplifying our tax code around April 15! The complexities of our code favor those who can afford the best accountants, so they can take advantage of the many legal provisions to reduce their tax burden. We must make sure those in the lower and middle class have access to good information about tax credits that are currently available to them, like the EITC or Child Care Tax Credits. Capital gains tax policy should be adjusted so lower or middle class Americans can keep a greater percentage of their assets if capital gains provide a major source of their income."
Scott Tipton
(Republican)
"Our tax code needs to be drastically simplified and reduced. Big companies exploit loopholes and inconsistencies in our tax code, leaving small business to foot the bill of our taxes, paying full effective rates when some corporations can escape paying next to nothing."
Gaylon Kent
(Libertarian)
"I support a flat tax of no more than 10 percent on individuals. I open to repealing all business taxes, on the theory they are only passed on to consumers anyway, and are merely another tax on individuals."
What can Congress do to ensure timely medical care for veterans?
Gail Schwartz (Democrat) "Our Veterans have made sacrifices to protect our freedoms, and we need to make sure they have access to the benefits they are entitled to and care they need in civilian life. Reports of long wait times are troubling and falsifying reports to make it look like wait times are improving is unacceptable. Congress must hold VA employees accountable if their actions harm veterans. Access to VA care is improving as VA hires more medical providers, but we still have a ways to go to improve the Choice program and telehealth that allows rural veterans to see a community provider in some cases."
Scott Tipton
(Republican)
"We have a current VA department that works for bureaucrats but not the veterans who need the care. Re-tooling the department to focus on patients first and holding the bureaucracy accountable for waste, fraud and abuse will be critical to get this system working for our veterans."
Gaylon Kent
Libertarian)
"Completely reorganize the VA and give veterans the right to see whatever civilian doctor they want. Veterans must get the care they need when they need, not when the VA can give it to them."
The U.S. has admitted far fewer Syrian refugees than other countries. And President Obama has limited the American military's role in the Syrian civil war to an air campaign against ISIS. What should be America's role in Syria?
Gail Schwartz (Democrat) "Syria represents a heartbreaking humanitarian crisis, as well as a geopolitical challenge with no easy solutions. Discussions of a “safe haven” or havens within Syria, with U.S. air defense and ground support from other nations, seem to offer some promise. This could provide a place to locate Syrians who might otherwise become refugees, potentially easing the refugee impacts on neighboring nations and Europe. A safe haven approach would need to include diplomatic pressure on Iran, Russia, and the Assad regime. Of course, there is no guarantee that a safe haven would stay safe over time. I don’t favor American troops on the ground in Syria, but I do believe we must play a role in fostering stability for the suffering people of this war-torn nation."
Scott Tipton
(Republican)
"President Obama and Secretary Clinton’s inaction in the Middle East has emboldened Syria, Iran and Russia and led to the death and displacement of millions of Syrian civilians. We must keep our commitments to our allies and ensure that international norms on the use-of-force and violence against civilians are honored and followed."
Gaylon Kent 
(Libertarian)

"Nothing. America should give Syria, and every other nation, the dignity of conducting their affairs without the benefit of U.S. interference."

Do you support or oppose legalized abortion? Are there any exceptions? Please explain.
Gail Schwartz (Democrat) "I support a woman’s right to choose as defined in the law, supported by affordable common sense family planning programs or practices that can help reduce unwanted pregnancies for women and families. Public education should inform and support teens and help them understand the sacrifices they will make if a pregnancy occurs and they’re not ready for parenthood and how to avoid pregnancy."
Scott Tipton
(Republican)
"I personally oppose abortion except for instances of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at risk, and recognize that the issue has been settled by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade."
Gaylon Kent
(Libertarian)
"The government must neither criminalize or legalize it. It must butt out and leave the decision to individuals."

Find more voter guides here.