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Jared Polis hopes to use business savvy in Congress

Will Bublitz
Sky-Hi Daily News
Congressman Jared Polis, D-Boulder
Stock photo |

Jared Polis is among Democratic candidates hoping to represent the Second Congressional District to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Polis is running to fill the seat being vacated by Rep. Mark Udall, who is running for the U.S. Senate in November’s general election.

On Monday, Polis was campaigning in Grand County and stopped in Granby for the following interview:

What is your personal and professional background?

“I’m 32 years old and a native of Boulder. I started three successful high-tech companies, which means I’d be bringing first-hand practical experience on how to strengthen the economy to Washington, D.C. In addition, I started public schools that are designed to reach out to serve at-risk and immigrant students.

“My background is also in the nonprofit and government world. I started a nonprofit computer recycling company. In addition, I helped found the Progress Now organization, which is a progressive political organization. I’ve worked extensively on the boards of the Colorado Conservation Voters, an environmental group, and the Colorado Consumers Health Initiative, a health care advocacy group.

“And I just completed six years on the Colorado Board of Education, where I worked to improve funding to districts like those in Grand County and close the achievement gap for their students.

What qualifications do you possess that would make you a good congressman?

“This is not my first time seeking an elected office. I was elected to a six-year term on the Colorado Board of Education that I’ve just completed.

“I’m the only candidate seeking this office that has worked in the private sector. I know how to make American companies competitive in the global marketplace.

“As part of that, I think health care for workers is one of the most important components in making an economy strong as well as meeting the needs of all Americans. Health care costs make an impact on the competitiveness of small businesses and, in turn, force many workers to get locked into their jobs to keep that insurance. Right now, Americans pay twice as much for health care as the majority of the industrialized nations in the world and still don’t have better health outcomes.”

If elected, what issues will you work on and what actions do you plan to take?

– The war in Iraq ” “In December, I spent three days in Iraq and four days in Jordan assessing the situation. One issue that I am concerned over is the extensive use of mercenaries such as Blackwater and Triple Canopy. Dozens of companies are involved in security operations in the Baghdad area. I plan to sponsor a bill in Congress to ban the hiring of mercenaries to work in combat areas.

“As for the war in Iraq, it’s become a case of mission creep. The invasion took three weeks, but now the war has dragged on longer than World War II. I believe it is time to end the war by bringing our troops home. This was a war of choice on our part, and it’s time for us to end our involvement.

“Another issue is the refugees produced by this war. When I was in Jordan, I got to assess the war’s impact on the refugees that have fled from Iraq. Many have strong feelings against the United States because of this war.”

– Immigration ” “I think we need an immigration reform package. I support the McCain-Kennedy Immigration Bill that would permit immigrants who have lived and worked here for some time and stayed out of trouble to become eligible for green cards.”

– Health care ” “This nation needs a universal health care system. To accomplish that, we have to take on the special interests and lobbyists so that we can create a health care system that is available to everyone and leads to better health outcomes.

“In my own campaign, I personally have taken a stand against those special interests. I received a $3,000 unsolicited check from a pharmaceutical PAC. I tore it up and mailed it back.”

– Economy/jobs ” “When I go to Congress, I’ll draw from my extensive experience creating new companies. I believe in strong federal policies to encourage economic growth and job creation. With our nation on the verge of recession, we need an economic stimulus package that includes targeted tax cuts and investment in creating good jobs.”

– Education ” “I’ve long been a critic of high-stakes testing. I believe the federal government’s goal should be to provide the resources to help our most at-risk youth.

At the state level, I’ve worked to give all Colorado residents access to online education and adequate funding for our schools. One of the things that I oppose is the federal government’s long tradition of placing unfunded mandates on our schools. That has to end so that we can move forward.”

– Equal rights ” “I support the equal rights and non-discrimination statutes at the national level. No one should be discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation, race, religion or ethnic origin.”

If elected, what issues specifically important to Grand County will you work on and support?

“We need to move forward on transportation issues. In particular, we need to focus on the 1-70 corridor and U.S. Highway 40.

“Another key issue is the pine beetle epidemic. The federal government needs to take an enhanced role in reducing the damage where possible and reducing the wildfire risk. The pine beetle epidemic is a poignant example of climate change and why we need bold federal initiatives to reduce our carbon footprint. For those who want to learn more, I recommend they take a look at my seven-point plan on my Web site.

“Everybody has an important stake in health care which will improve the competitiveness of Grand County businesses. And all Grand County residents, like all the other people in Second District, also care about education and ending the war in Iraq.”

If elected, what kind of Congressman do you intend to be?

“I certainly plan on being accessible to the public to hear their views and respond to their needs. However, lobbyists will be afforded no place in my office. I plan to put the voters ahead of special interests.

“I will be a progressive voice for reform. One of my goals is to improve our campaign-finance legislation to reduce the influence of lobbyists in Washington, D.C.

“I’ll also be taking my track record of innovation to Washington to introduce new ideas. I am looking forward to the challenge of serving our nation in Congress.”

To learn more about Jared Polis, his political views and his campaign for the U.S House of Representatives, go to his Web site at: http://www.polisforcongress.com.


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