Nov. 16, 2017 Vol. 16 No. 52
Snyder unleashes ‘inner Democrat’ to run for seat in Colorado House
Written by Jeanne Davant   


Turkey time

111617_TurkeyShoot_1 111617_TurkeyShoot_2 

Top, firefighters Kaitlyn Byrne and Tyler Thompson present boxed turkeys ready to be raffled at the Manitou Springs Volunteer Fire Department’s Turkey Shoot at City Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 14.

Above, Amanda Bridger serves food during the event.

Photos by Casey Bradley Gent

For months after stepping down as Manitou Springs mayor in January 2016, Marc Snyder didn’t quite know what to do on Tuesday nights. Even so, as recently as last year, he considered but rejected the idea of running for another elected office.

111617_MarcSnyderSnyder decided not to seek a seat on the El Paso County Board of Commissioners, but now, after two years of contemplation, he’s announced his candidacy for the state House District 18 seat. The seat is held by Rep. Pete Lee, who is term-limited and running for Mike Merrifield’s 11th District Colorado Senate seat. Merrifield is not seeking re-election.

“I really took my time in making this decision, but I’m committed now,” Snyder said in an interview Tuesday, Nov. 14. “Being in public office takes a toll on you. Everything from going to the grocery store to hiking your favorite trail becomes an hour-long conversation. I didn’t realize until I left office how taxing it is.”

Snyder said he spent a lot of time in the past two years rebuilding his law practice, recharging his batteries and looking inward to figure out exactly what he stands for and what he wants to do.

“I really have a renewed desire and vigor to fight the good fight,” said Snyder, 56, a longtime Democrat.

After 16 years of walking the district to support Merrifield and Lee, Snyder said he has a good understanding of the area, which runs north from Cheyenne Boulevard to Fillmore Street and stretches east from Manitou to Academy Boulevard, narrowing as it goes.

Colorado Springs’ downtown area is the district’s core.

“It’s absolutely vital to create a vibrant, exciting, desirable urban core,” Snyder said. “We need to be building that urban core for the coming generations. The state, through various programs, can foster redevelopment and help create a sense of place. I will be looking at opportunities in the Legislature to support those efforts.”

Snyder said he intends to be out front about issues between now and next November’s election.

“I’m all about the needs of the voters and taxpayers,” he said. “There are three main issues that seem to be chronically underfunded: higher education, transportation infrastructure and health care. When I look at House District 18, the most pressing need is health care.

“We are loaded with small businesses in Manitou Springs, downtown and the area north of Fillmore. They’re looking at incredible increases in health care costs.”

Although he’s not committed to a single-payer format, “I think we absolutely have to have a baseline public option that would be available to everybody,” Snyder said. “I despair of getting any leadership out of Washington; it’s going to be incumbent on us to take care of our people.”

Snyder, who has served on many boards and commissions, was one of a few, if not the only, non-Republican to be elected chairman of the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments board of directors. He served for 12 years on the board of the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority and, during his tenure as mayor, Manitou captured many dollars for transportation infrastructure projects.

“Manitou really understood how transportation funding works,” he said. “I hope to bring that understanding and knowledge to the state Legislature to help this region and, specifically, House District 18.”

Citing a recent Denver Post article stating that Colorado Springs is poised to overtake Denver as the state’s largest city, Snyder said, “How are we going to accommodate those people and attract young entrepreneurs and tech businesses — the leading employers of the future? The key is good transportation. After years of neglect, we’re pretty behind on that.

“Previously, there has been a perception that we don’t get our fair share of tax dollars back. If I’m successful in the state Legislature, I’m committed to making sure we’re getting our fair share.”

Snyder said Colorado ranks in the bottom five states on education funding.

“It kills me that we’re having such a booming economy and we still rank so low,” he said. “One of the ways I would like to address that is criminal justice reform.

“In the 2017 budget, we’re spending $785 million on the Department of Corrections, and Gov. [John] Hickenlooper has called for an increase in the 2018 budget. We incarcerate people for low-level offenses and, once you’ve been convicted of a felony, it stays with you the rest of your life.”

Snyder said he’s a big fan of restorative justice, which has been shown to drastically reduce the recidivism rate of juvenile offenders.

“It’s not a substitute for the criminal justice system, but it gives everybody involved — the offender, the victim and the community — a greater sense of justice and satisfaction than they ever get with the criminal justice system.”

Greater use of restorative justice, along with sentencing reform and post-conviction reform, could yield savings that could be applied to funding education, he said.

Snyder said he is still exploring the issue of for-profit prisons; Colorado has three.

“I have a hard time seeing the role of profit in the criminal justice system,” he said. “We need to look at the entire criminal justice system — it seems to be gaining a life of its own — and look at every opportunity to do better.”

Describing himself as “a proud gun owner,” Snyder said he supports the Second Amendment, but is “more than willing to give up some of those rights for the protection of society.”

He said he thinks “most gun owners agree that weapons of war have no place in our society. We are not getting guns out of this society, and I’m not sure we should, but I think we should do everything we can to keep them out of the hands of people with mental problems and criminals.”

The Legislature has not had the will to address the gun issue, but Snyder said that’s starting to change.

“The status quo is not acceptable,” he said. “It’s an education campaign first, and then we build on that common ground. We can do better; we have to do better.”

Snyder said he had a little trepidation when he first considered entering the race, never having run for a partisan position.

Now, he said, “I feel like I can unleash my inner Democrat. Democratic leaders have done a lot of wonderful things, and I think we have a lot of really great, really exciting ideas.”