Democrat Chris Kolker is running for the south-metro senate district 27 seat, which is based in Centennial. The seat was left open by state Sen. Jack Tate, a Republican, who decided not to run for reelection. Kolker faces Republican Suzanne Staiert in the race.
What motivates you to run for office?
I am motivated to run so we can ensure a positive future for our two daughters and all the children of this state. They will be the generation which inherits the climate we leave them. I feel compelled to do everything I can to make sure that we do not leave them a planet which is damaged beyond repair. All children deserve a public education funded without the constitutional conflicts caused by TABOR, Gallagher, and Amendment 23. They deserve to grow up in a world in which we offer affordable and accessible mental health care and support. They should not ever lose peers or friends to suicide, but especially due to a lack of resources. They should be able to live where people are not discriminated against in our justice system, housing, education, finance, commerce, and government based on the color of their skin, gender identity, age, religion, or whom they love. They deserve an economy that rewards hard work, creates equitable wages and benefits so that individuals, businesses, and educational institutions are not bankrupted by the cost of health insurance and health care. I am running because our daughters deserve the best possible future we can give them.
What experience do you have that makes you qualified for the job?
Colorado faces a funding crisis. TABOR has led to inadequate funding in almost every sector. I have been in finance for the past 20 years as a Certified Financial Planner, and therefore I am ready to work with Colorado’s budget, whatever it may look like, and ensure that it reflects our values as a state. Additionally, as a husband of a middle school counselor and a former teacher myself, I have seen firsthand the shortfalls in education and mental health. I am familiar with the solutions we need to ensure that our kids are successful.
What are your top three policy issues, and how would you address those issues if elected?
A well funded public education system funding that is equitable with high expectations for every child and school, where children’s minds are nurtured and challenged is my number one issue. The caveat is our state budget must be given the opportunity to be flexible. I would address working within our budget to find the resources to fulfill the promise of Amendment 23. This requires a technical, mathematical analysis of our current spending. I have already begun and know that we have an opportunity, but it still falls short due to the inflexible constraints of the TABOR and Gallagher amendments. which have so severely restricted what we are able to do for public education and economic recovery in Colorado. I will continue to work to educate and publicize the need for change so that our budgets can be flexible to respond to unforeseen disasters and economic recessions. Affordable health care that must include mental health care is also a priority. I know personally how financially devastating mental health challenges can be. I would address this issue by working with insurance companies, schools, and hospitals to make sure that mental health care is affordable and accessible to those who need it. We must continue to push equal rights for all, protections for our consumers, workers, retirees, and environment through an efficient, transparent, and fair government.
What key issues set you apart from your opponent? Where do you most closely align?
One thing that I think my opponent and I closely align on is the need to keep transparency in government. It can begin with a respectful approach to discussion. There are a number of things we can agree on, we just need to be willing to talk to each other in a courteous and civil manner in order to do so. A key issue that sets me apart from my opponent is our beliefs in regards to a person’s reproductive health. I believe that choices regarding a person’s body should be between the patient and their healthcare provider. Abortion decisions are deeply personal and each pregnancy and circumstance is different. I trust patients to make a decision about their individual health to drive their medical decision, not politics.
If you could snap your fingers and make one law in Colorado, what would it be?
If I could snap my fingers today, I would end TABOR and all fixed revenue based amendments because they cannot foresee extreme disasters or recessions. These amendments create unclear and jumbled policies to deal with the unexpected. This would make Colorado truly a representative democracy. Our founding fathers, as well as a number of great philosophers, cautioned against having all citizens weigh in on every complex decision. We know that this type of government works only in small populations or with less complex proposals, because in larger societies, decision making is too ineffective and inefficient. We choose the people we want making these decisions, based on our shared values and it’s time we actually let them represent. Rigid revenue based laws have no place in our constitution, they are too inflexible for a 21st century society in which needs change every day. So if I could snap my fingers, that’s what I would do, I would make us a more responsive, flexible, efficient, transparent, and effective representative government.
Find out more about Chris Kolker on his campaign website.