It's a dedication to learning that prompted a Glenwood Springs Democrat to run for an open seat on the University of Colorado Board of Regents, the candidate said Friday during a campaign stop in Craig.
"I believe education, specifically public education, is essential to our democracy," said Susan Hakanson, who's campaigning to represent the Third Congressional District, covering Craig, on the board of regents. "I am really passionate about education, specifically public education."
Hakanson is running for the position against Tilman "Tillie" Bishop, R-Grand Junction. She concluded a campaign visit to the Western Slope on Monday, and stopped to visit with potential voters in Craig on Friday.
The normal grind of campaigning is compounded for Hakanson -- a member of the Roaring Fork School District board of education for the past seven years -- because she's a college student herself, and is studying for mid-term exams.
She said being a college student, as well as the parent of two college-aged students, combined with the experience of kindergarten through 12th-grade public education, gives her a unique perspective to bring to the CU regents.
"It actually is really nice to bring that K-12 educational voice to CU and the university level," she said, adding that her experience would help ease the transition of aligning the public education and university systems, a trend that is gaining popularity around the country.
On Friday, Hakanson said she would be in favor of looking at measures to reduce the debt load most college students face when attending a four-year university and being proactive to provide classes and programs to rural areas such as Craig and Hayden.
"We say everybody has to have a degree these days, but we're not putting our money where our mouth is," Hakanson said. "This generation is facing a debt burden no other generation has seen.
"CU can really be a strong partner with your local community college to provide courses," she added.
While on the Roaring Fork school board, Hakanson served as vice president, president and is currently the legislative liaison to the Colorado Association of School Boards.
Hakanson is scheduled to appear at a candidate forum in Craig at 6 p.m. Oct. 23. The forum, sponsored by the Craig Daily Press and KRAI, will take place at the Centennial Mall, 1111 W. Victory Way.