Kennedy brings gubernatorial campaign to Glenwood Springs | AspenTimes.com

Kennedy brings gubernatorial campaign to Glenwood Springs

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Cary Kennedy, a Democratic candidate for Colorado governor, speaks with area residents during a campaign visit to the Glenwood Springs Library last week.

Cary Kennedy, one in a long line-up of Democrats vying for the party's nomination to run for Colorado governor next year, believes her executive office experience gives her the edge in the race.

Kennedy, Colorado's former state treasurer from 2007 to 2011 who later worked as chief financial officer for the city of Denver, brought her campaign to Glenwood Springs last week.

"It's an important credential for the next governor to have a background in executive finance," she told a gathering of Garfield County Democrats and others Dec. 8 at the Glenwood Springs Library.

"I'm proud of what our state has become — innovative, forward-looking — we have become one of the strongest economies in the country," Kennedy said. "I'm running for governor … to make sure that our progress reaches everyone, because there are a lot of people in our state who aren't benefiting from that success."

Kennedy is one of nine Democrats running at this early stage to replace Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is term-limited. Among them are current Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, former state Sen. Michael Johnston, businessman Noel Ginsburg, and former 5th District congressional candidate Moses Humes.

An equally long list of Republicans are also vying for their party's nomination, including current state Treasurer Walker Stapleton, current Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, former Congressman Tom Tancredo, Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter, former state Rep. Victor Mitchell and several others.

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Upon taking office as treasurer in 2007, Kennedy noted that she discovered that $2 billion of the state's money was invested in a single Wall Street bank.

"I terminated that and moved our taxpayer money to safe, secure investments," she said. "When the banks failed a few short months later, sadly, other states around the country lost hundreds of millions of dollars of public taxpayer money that was invested in similar places."

Kennedy cited public education, health care and insurance needs, and protections for Colorado amid an anticipated population explosion among her key campaign issues.

"We need to make public education our state's No. 1 priority," she said. "It doesn't make any sense that our economy ranks No. 1 and our investment in K-12 through higher education ranks at the bottom among states."

Three decades of education cuts since the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR) went into effect have led to half of the state's school districts, mostly rural districts, having to cut back to a four-day school week, Kennedy pointed out.

"Our teachers can't afford to live here, and they can't afford to work here," she added. "We need pay our teachers as professionals and give them the professional development that they deserve."

Kennedy was one of the authors of Amendment 23, which increased funding for public schools and halted some of the TABOR-forced budget cuts.

As state treasurer, she also helped create the Building Better Schools Today program, providing capital funds to rebuild and renovate aging school facilities across the state.

On the health-care front, Kennedy said she will champion for a public health insurance option to be offered alongside private insurance carriers.

"People deserve the opportunity to buy into one of our public health insurance programs, whether that's purchasing Medicaid or any one of the plans that we currently offer our state employees," she said.

Colorado can't stop the projected 4 million to 5 million people who are expected to move here over the coming three decades, but the state can work to better manage that growth.

"We have to be smart about how we manage that growth," Kennedy said. "We do not want Colorado to become the next California."

That means protecting open space, public lands, and providing more ways for people to buy affordable housing, such as setting up a statewide affordable housing fund, she said.

It also means protecting the state's air and water quality and its water resources, she said.

"We can't continue to take water out of these (Western Slope) rivers to support a growing urban population," Kennedy said.

Colorado also should be a leader on climate change, she said.

"As a state we will meet the emission reduction targets in the Paris climate accord, with or without the help of Washington," Kennedy said.

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