MAKE COLORADO AN AFFORDABLE PLACE TO LIVE... AGAIN
Our population is booming and our cost of living is soaring. With a skyrocketing real estate market, harmful construction defects laws, low housing supply, and increasing population comes the threat of our neighbors being forced from their homes.COMBINE ALL OF THAT with congested transportation systems and increased infrastructure costs and we have a serious problem. Right now the average person pays $600 more a year in car repairs due to the state of our roads and bridges. If you’re a member of the middle class like I am, those are costs you simply cannot afford. To combat the increase in the cost of living we must:
- Repeal the 1980 ban on rent control measures in Colorado.
- Broker a bipartisan, omnibus bill to further reform our construction defect laws and lure credible, trusted developers to begin building in Colorado again. The piecemeal approach to solving this problem is a day late and a dollar short.
- Generate new public/private real estate development projects at the state level to build good affordable housing that emphasizes mixing all incomes and walks of life in the same communities.
- Invest in our infrastructure to increase the speed of production and lower transportation, energy, and utility costs for businesses and citizens while stimulating the economy with good paying, blue collar jobs.
GUN SAFETY REFORM
I have many avid hunters and conservatives in my family that feel very strongly about their right to own a weapon. Literally none of them have ever been able to kill 180 deer in a minute, nor do any of them feel it necessary. There is no need for any civilian in America to own an automatic weapon or a bump stock. This country is watching the youth of our nation lead a movement to stand up and say we must have common sense gun reform. The #neveragain movement is picking up steam. I strongly support my fellow millennials goals of reforming gun laws in this state and silencing the NRA once and for all.
RAISE TEACHER PAY
Colorado is currently ranked 48th in the nation (when adjusted for cost of living) in teacher pay. It is not difficult to understand how to recruit and retain the best of the best in any industry; education is no different. If we do not pay our teachers a competitive livable salary, many would-be educators are going to decide it is too large of a sacrifice to dedicate their life to our children. It should not be a sacrifice if someone is willing to dedicate their life to providing our children the education they deserve. We need to guarantee both the starting salaries and average salaries of Colorado teachers are greater than the national average (which equates to a 12.5% raise across the board for Colorado teachers). Colorado is a growing, thriving state, and it is imperative we make it as attractive for new teachers to come to Colorado as it is for every other thriving industry in our state. We also need to set stricter state limits on class sizes to make sure that this current population boom doesn’t overcrowd our classrooms and hurt our childrens’ development.
Similarly Colorado ranks 40th in the nation in per pupil funding. The state of New York pays $20,206 per student, while Colorado pays $9,245. Are our children worth $11,000 less than those in New York? I support raising per pupil funding to the national average of $12,261, AND mandating an annual increase at the rate of inflation. As a child that received my entire education, Kindergarten to Senior year of college, in the state of Colorado, I am sick and tired of not being a priority of this legislature. Nothing breeds equality like education. Let’s hire the right teachers, pay them what they deserve, and begin to better our communities from the bottom up.
REFORMING THE TWO PARTY SYSTEM
As a Millennial, I’ve realized both parties have lost touch with reality. Today in so many elections from our choice of presidential candidate, right down to this state senate race; I see party boss’s exerting influences, making back room deals, controlling the process, and leaving out the voters. These practices must stop. It is never anyone’s “turn” in a Democracy. Establishment partly leaders making backroom deals to elect their cronies must stop. We need fresh faces and bold ideas to bring democracy back to life.
We must end the practice of coronating candidates who believe it’s “their turn.” We must speak up when we see elected officials and party members using illegal or immoral means to promote, or suppress, certain candidates. And most importantly we must remind both parties once again that we are a country of ideas, not of candidates or special interests. Our collective ideas are what matter, and I am running to bring the two party system back from the edge, away from the path or corruption, and into the hands of the people once more.
If elected I will be the deciding vote on every piece of legislation in an equally divided state senate. This will give our district the power to be the most influential seat in the state instead of being a throwaway, predictable, party member that does whatever party leadership asks. Let’s elect an independent thinker that will bring the power back to this district.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM
I decided to enter this race as an independent because I saw hundreds of thousands of dollars being poured into this election from health insurance PACs, realtor and developer PACs, PACs hoping to privatize our education system, and many many more special interests. DEMOCRATS are the ones that have already accepted over $200,000 in special interest money and spending on their behalf.
Something must be done to silence the special interests and free this district of two party corruption and special interest influence. I will never take a dime from special interests, super PACs, or corporations for the 8 years I plan to serve in this role. You can take that to the bank.
In order to protect our democracy, we must fight for a publicly financed, transparent system of campaign financing that amplifies small donations. We must also ensure that all Americans are guaranteed an effective right to vote. Wealthy donors like the Koch Brothers have found a way to take our government hostage using Citizen’s United as their vehicle. Members from BOTH parties are dragging their feet to overturn Citizen’s United and it is time we ask why? Our current federal political leaders spend over half their time in office fundraising instead of providing the leadership that the people of Colorado deserve. As long as there is private money in politics, ideas will take backseat to the need for reelection and the will of campaign donors. That is why it is time to mandate publicly funded campaigns for every elected official within the state of Colorado. Real change will only come when the people of Colorado take sole control of the campaign funding process. If every candidate is given an equal opportunity to communicate their ideas through the election process, then we will regain elections of ideas, and eliminate partisan gridlock designed and executed by the top 1%.
NEW INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT
Colorado is currently experiencing the biggest population boom of my lifetime. More and more people are flooding into our state seeking a new way of life in a thriving economy. We owe every Coloradan, new or native, a safe and well maintained infrastructure system. Our roads, bridges, rail lines, airports, and vital infrastructure need an injection of resources to maintain and grow our state at the rate of population growth. Colorado needs over $12 Billion in critical infrastructure investments on bridges, waterways and dams just to bring our infrastructure grade from a D- from the American Society of Civil Engineers to safe and functioning levels. Colorado’s unemployment rate is the lowest in the country. We must index the gas tax to inflation AND send spending increases to our voters to save our infrastructure. It is time to invest new revenues into a broken, disgraceful infrastructure system.
I also believe that if we are going to continue to compete into the next century that we must make bold and innovative moves in transportation. I support being the first in the country to erect a Hyperloop line for intrastate travel. Couple that with high speed rail and investment in our roads and highways as the government has promised to do, and the next 20 years will prove to be our golden age. Now is the time to make the investments that are necessary to stabilize our current growth into long-term quality of life improvements that will last a generation.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
We imprison more of our own people than any other country on Earth. Our system of imprisonment is biased against Latinos and African Americans and criminalizes the poor. We must be more effective at rehabilitation and at improving safety in our communities at a far lower cost. All of this must be done while improving the opportunities for young people to achieve their full potential.
To do so we must do the following:
- End the practice of private and for-profit prisons and detention centers that cost more, have the perverse incentive to send more people to jail, and have demonstrably higher levels of violence. According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, prisons owned by for-profit companies hold nearly three-quarters of federal immigration detainees.
- End the government’s war on drugs and encourage comprehensive reforms in drug control policies that have had a devastating effect on communities of color.
- Find ways for nonviolent offenders to be held accountable for their crimes outside of the prison system and support programs that help rehabilitate them.
- Improve access to mental health services within our prison systems to help diagnose and address people with existing mental health issues and drive down rates of backsliding.
- End the current system of bail bonds that punishes people for being poor. The current system allows bail for those who can afford it, instead of ensuring that a person’s release won’t result in harm to someone else. Reforming the bail system will refocus public dollars on community well-being and ensure that we no longer waste vast resources on imprisoning those who are not violent offenders.
Our state government should not be doing the drudgery of the Federal government. For starters, we don’t have the funds. More importantly, tasking state officials with enforcing federal priorities will sour their relationship with our communities and make all of us less safe. The inhumane deportation machine must be dismantled by ending deportation programs that tear family apart, closing down private detention centers, and offering humane treatment and asylum to victims of violence and minors fleeing from dangerous circumstances. The thought that hard working immigrants in our community are afraid to call 911 and get the help they need when a crime has been committed against them, or when they need serious medical care our of fear of deportation, to me, is one of the biggest failures of our previous generation of leadership. We look back on this as we have the trail of tears or Japanese internment camps. America is a country of immigrants. No hardworking member of our community should feel afraid to get the help they need, period. Without our immigrant working class, this economy would simply cease to function as a whole. I promise that the very first bill I introduce into the legislature will be to make Colorado a sanctuary state and refocus our law enforcement officials’ priorities from enforcing federal laws, to fighting real dangerous crime in our communities.
ENDING THE GENDER PAY GAP
I don’t need to tell you that women in Colorado are paid 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. Frankly, I can’t believe this is still an issue in our society, but it is, and it’s time to end it.
My idea to fix this problem is simple: the state of Colorado should provide a voluntary equal pay auditing service. Colorado companies should voluntarily sign up to have the government audit the salaries of their male and female employees. If the company currently pays equally to men and women in the same positions based on criteria that we set, they will receive a State of Colorado Certified Equal Pay Employer designation. If companies fail this audit, they will be able to raise the salaries of the employees being unfairly paid and at that point receive their certification. If a company chooses to skip the auditing process there will be no penalty. Hopefully Colorado women will think twice about working for an employer that purposely foregoes the auditing process. This is a simple process that will not force employers to do anything they don’t elect to do, but it WILL provide women a tool to know which employers truly value the work that they do. The time has come to settle this issue once and for all. I will not accept a world where my future daughters and granddaughters still encounter this problem in Colorado.
The Alt-right movement would like you to think that an increase in diversity, immigrants, and environmental scientists are to blame for current long-term unemployment. It is time to stop blaming the people who work incredibly hard to get into and stay in America for loss of jobs. Similarly, it is time to stop pretending that protecting our air or water is the reason our companies aren’t hiring like they once did. It is 2017, our elected leaders need to begin to address the impacts of automation on our systemic unemployment rate.
Machines are replacing jobs that once could provide a middle class lifestyle in Colorado. Instead of trying to find someone to blame while ignoring the real problems of our emerging economy, let’s do something about our systemic unemployment. Coding these machines is an intricate language. Let’s designate computer coding as a language that meets the high school language requirement. Let’s help our public universities create intensive 1 year computer coding and technical maintenance programs for any Coloradan that wants to learn; and then let’s make every one of these programs free for any resident of Colorado. It is time to address and get ahead of automation before we are in crisis.
Very soon our cars will drive themselves, wait staffs and cooks will be able to be replaced by machines, and technologies that have yet to be created will completely alter our economy. This sprint towards technological progress will leave many people displaced and struggling to find a footing in a computer-based economy. We must train Coloradans now to master and maintain the coming technological takeover of our economy that we all know is well underway already. By getting ahead of this problem we will develop an advanced economy while providing new paths for people already finding it hard to get by in today’s job market.
TABOR (TAX PAYER'S BILL OF RIGHTS)
It is time to lead a coalition to repeal TABOR. TABOR is a harmful constitutional amendment that is destroying our infrastructure, harming our children, and negatively impacting the safety of our citizens. TABOR was passed by a criminal tax evader charged with money laundering, attempted bribery of a public official, and multiple counts of tax fraud. It is irresponsible and unethical to support a constitutional amendment written and introduced by a criminal tax evader for the sole purpose of denying the people of Colorado vital resources that we desperately need at a time of enormous population expansion. It is time for fresh thinking and new debate on the logic of TABOR and the crippling effect on our state services that it mandates.
I will be stronger than politicians of the past on TABOR. I will help build the coalition to get the signatures, craft the amendment, and allow the voters the chance to repeal this leech of an amendment once and for all. I am not a member of any party. Therefore I can be bold and supportive of this initiative as no member of either party seems to, sadly, dare to be.
The two most polluted neighborhoods in America (Globeville and Elyria-Swansea) reside within Colorado’s capital. Stats like that are simply unacceptable for me as a Colorado Native. Currently the federal government is at war with environmental protection. Every thing from the clean water act, to air quality requirements, to green energy investment is under attack by this president. It is our state legislature’s job to carefully analyze and take note of every protection taken away by the federal government, and make an effort to replace and strengthen each protection through our state government. We must make a plan to make Colorado carbon neutral by 2035, and we need to work with our energy providers to transition our energy infrastructure from the dirty energy sources of the past into the clean, efficient, and low cost solutions of the future.
HEMP AND MARIJUANA
Colorado has a once in a life time opportunity to have a head start on what is about to be a major global commodity. Marijuana is proving it can be to Colorado what tobacco was for North Carolina. However, the heavily untapped hemp market, if supported, could catapult Colorado to a top 3 economy. Increasing hemp subsidies and empowering Colorado farmer’s to embrace growing hemp could be equivalent to the introduction of cotton to the South for our economy. Our state government needs to get out of the way of Marijuana and Hemp producers and pave a path forward to beat the nation and the world to capitalizing on these crops to continue Colorado’s economic ascent to a top 5 state for economic opportunity in America. We need more subsidies to entice farmers to capitalize on hemp’s possibilities and make it easier for our marijuana growers to bank and conduct business.