Democratic candidate for governor visits Craig, part of Labor Day western Colorado tour
CRAIG — As many enjoy the last holiday weekend of summer, Democratic candidate for Governor Jared Polis is on a whirlwind tour of the western part of the state, where education, health care costs, and the economy are of great interest.
Polis, who currently represents Colorado’s 2nd District in the U.S. House of Representatives — spent Labor Day weekend holding a series of public meet-and-greets, roundtables, and business visits as part of his bid to become Colorado’s next governor.
The three-day tour included stops on Sunday in Steamboat Springs, Meeker, and Craig. In Craig, he met and talked with about 40 people, some of whom had driven from Hayden, under a shaded pavilion at Woodbury Park.
Polis introduced himself as a businessman who understands the needs of agriculture-based businesses, as well as the necessity of broadband in job creations. He cited his development of proflowers.com, an internet retail flower site, which became the third-largest such company in the U.S. prior to its sale to FTD.
He also spoke of his work in public service as a U.S. representative, a position he has held since 2009, as well as six years of service as a member of the State School Board of Education.
He said he continues to be a strong proponent of education, adding he would like to expand free kindergarten from half-day to full-day and add free preschool.
“Studies have shown that early education gives children the best opportunity for success and healthy development,” he said.
Health — physical, mental, and financial — were themes throughout the hour-long talk.
“If elected, I will ask all the departments, ‘What are your recommendations for a healthier Colorado?'” Polis said, adding that he thinks it’s important to put the health of Coloradans first, because that translates into “real dollars and cents.”
One way he proposes to tackle the high cost of health insurance and health care is by addressing the high cost of prescription medication through improved transparency, reducing price gouging, and increasing competition.
“When you have a stay at the hospital, and the band-aid costs $110, then you knew something is wrong,” he said.
Asked whether he supports the idea of universal healthcare, Polis replied, “I only support programs that pay less. We already pay more than we should for health care, prescription drugs, and insurance.”
According to his campaign website, Polis supports universal health care.
“Health care is a human right. … Your income, location, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, or the current state of health should never be a barrier to receiving affordable, high-quality health care. I believe passionately in universal health care, and I always will,” according to the website.
Polis also expressed his support for creative ways to improve the availability of mid-range housing, his opposition to large-scale trans-mountain water diversions, and his belief in the need to defend both PERA — the Public Employees Retirement Association — and Social Security.
“You paid in, you played by the rules, you deserve to get what you earned and were promised,” he said.
Among the crowd were those representing local coal miners and power plant workers. Polis said he counts the local union as one of many organizations supporting of his campaign.
About coal, he said he feels it is important to “be honest. We can’t bring it (coal) back.” He said workers deserve to know when and how companies are scheduling closures of mines and power plants, adding that workers deserve a seat at the table in determining what’s next for them.
“Climate change is real, and the consequences are becoming a reality. I’m running on a plan to bring Colorado to 100-percent renewable energy by 2040. We can’t afford to wait,” according to his website.
Moffat County Commissioner Ray Beck, who was not at the Craig event, has criticized Polis for not agreeing to take part in a traditional Club 20 candidate debate.
In response, Polis said he has chosen to spend time in communities holding free events rather than attend an event in Grand Junction, where people must pay a $20 fee to attend.
Polis left Craig after visits to Buena Vista, Salida, Gunnison, Crested Butte, Montrose, Grand Junction, and Rifle part of more than 40 events held on the Western Slope throughout the campaign.
He said he will also participate in a public debate at Colorado Mesa University on Oct. 6.
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.
Friday marked one year since the Silver Creek Fire sparked northwest of Kremmling in Routt National Forest and burned more than 20,120 acres, according to data from the Rocky Mountain Incident Coordination Center.