Hickenlooper for governor

Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper

Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper has the kind of resume that ought to be attractive to Coloradans of all political stripes.

He was an oil and gas geologist who was laid off during the energy bust that so devastated the Western Slope in the 1980s.

He started a business — Colorado’s first brew pub — that was successful even before Coors Field arrived in the neighborhood.

For the past seven years he has been mayor of Denver, a government with a general fund budget of $855 million. And he has presided over massive budget cuts the past few years.

Furthermore, he has ideas for job creation and getting the state through the current economic crisis that we believe make sense for Colorado right now.

Most voters in the state are familiar with the series of events that have led to disarray among Hickenlooper’s opponents.

Dan Maes is nominally the GOP candidate for governor, but he has little support, even among his own party. Due to his own missteps, his credibility is shot and his poll numbers are abysmal.

Hickenlooper’s main opposition now is Tom Tancredo, the former Republican congressman who is running as the candidate for the American Constitution Party.

Despite the bizarre events that led to his candidacy, Tancredo is a serious candidate with definite ideas for dealing with issues facing the state. But we disagree with him on many of these issues.

For instance, Tancredo says he would immediately work to restore business sales-tax exemptions eliminated in the past year, roll back the mill levy freeze for school districts and reinstate the senior homestead exemption. His ideas for reducing budget costs, for instance by suspending the cost of living allowance for retired public employees, or providing Medicaid recipients with health savings accounts, would be tough to pass, as even he admits.

Hickenlooper, for his part, wants to restore the exemptions as soon as it is economically possible. But he understands that, with the state already facing budget cuts of another $1 billion in the next fiscal year, immediately restoring the exemptions and thus further reducing state revenue would be irresponsible.

Immigration hard-liner Tancredo is right that illegal immigration costs the state a significant amount of money. But, he says he wants to implement an Arizona-style immigration law here, even though he acknowledges Colorado already “has tough immigration laws.”

Hickenlooper said he is committed to enforcing those tough existing laws and pushing effective immigration reform at the federal level. But Hickenlooper also stresses that we must ensure industries in Colorado have access to sufficient legal labor that they need.

On energy, both men say they want to re-examine the oil and gas rules adopted last year, and perhaps make some changes. Tancredo announced Saturday he would appoint Mesa County Commissioner Craig Meis to head the state oil and gas commission. And he says the free market should decide which energy sources prosper. Hickenlooper argues the state can play an important role. For instance, he says the state should work with private enterprise to develop infrastructure for vehicles that run on natural gas. That’s a proactive approach that is sensible to us.

But it is on job creation that Hickenlooper is best.

Tancredo mainly offers the creed of cutting taxes and regulations as the means of creating jobs. Hickenlooper has a lengthy list of proposals for economic development and job creation. They include:

—Consolidating small business programs in one state agency.

—Providing small business owners with assistance in accessing the many state programs already available to aid them.

—Working with community leaders throughout the state to boost or establish economic development programs focused on regional needs and attributes, not state ones.

—Using incentives already on the books, as well as new collaborative efforts, to retain, attract and expand existing large businesses. This includes greater recognition of and collaboration with the military institutions in the state.

—Building on this state’s record for entrepreneurship and technological expertise to promote a national and global reputation for Colorado as an innovation state. He asked, “Why not put on the logo of products developed here, ‘Imagined and designed in Colorado’?”

Hickenlooper’s experience in business and as an elected public executive, combined with his ideas for the future, make him the best candidate to lead this state now.

Vote for John Hickenlooper for governor.


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