Democrats’ governor candidates gather in Edwards, voice support of DACA
EDWARDS — Colorado Democrats got together Friday in one of the only gatherings in the state to feature all five of their candidates for governor.
While many recent issues made their way into the discourse, the Trump administration’s plans to end the Obama-era program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, dominated much of the conversation. The DACA program seeks to protect immigrants brought here by their parents at a young age.
Vail native Mike Johnston, who announced his candidacy for Governor in early 2017, found a lot of support from the mostly local crowd, who applauded him for his efforts to help students who arrived in the U.S. as children and were having trouble obtaining in-state tuition.
“That was what made me run for office, and I spent three years in the state senate, finally getting that job done, so that all of those kids to get access to college, like our kids had,” Johnston said, in reference to his sponsoring of the Colorado legislature’s Dream Act which passed in 2013, while Johnston was serving as a senator in the legislature. The Dream Act granted in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants.
“This week was a hard week for me, because I got a lot of calls and texts from those kids who had fought their way through and gotten to college and graduated, and gotten jobs,” Johnston told local Democrats on Friday. “So this was one of those weeks where you realize that this question is so much bigger than any one of us here.”
‘PIVOTAL MOMENT’ FOR PARTY
Governor candidate Noel Ginsburg, himself an East Vail resident and former Vail Associates employee, shared stories of working with young immigrants brought to this country by their parents, also known as “Dreamers.” Ginsburg and his wife Leslie co-founded the Colorado I Have a Dream foundation, which seeks to increase the state’s high school graduation rate.
“20 years ago, Leslie and I adopted our own class of Dreamer kids,” Ginsburg told the crowd. “They were from the South Lincoln neighborhood, a neighborhood with a 90 percent dropout rate … 10 years later, we graduated 90 percent of our kids.”
Governor candidate Cary Kennedy said, for her family, the rhetoric coming out of Washington regarding immigrants is personal.
“My wonderful husband Saurabh … is an immigrant to this country, he moved here with his parents when he was 7 years old,” Kennedy told the crowd. “The hateful and demeaning rhetoric … against immigrants who built this great country … has no place here in Colorado. We will defend our DACA students and we will defend the rights of immigrants in the state of Colorado.”
Congressman Jared Polis, who represents Vail in the U.S. House of Representatives as the elected official in Colorado’s 2nd district, said the next governor needs to be able to stand up against President Donald Trump when it comes to issues such as DACA. Polis is also running for governor.
“Now we’ve seen (President Trump) target Dreamers — our young, aspiring, de facto Americans who grew up here and know no other country,” Polis said. “They simply need to become Americans in law, rather than just in fact, and (Trump) has targeted them for additional stigmatization. So we’re living in a pivotal moment, not only for our party, but for our nation, and for our values.”
MEDICARE FOR ALL?
Following his speech, Polis said another fundamental issue for Democrats at the moment is the topic of health care, and a Medicare for all program, which he is currently sponsoring.
“Medicare for all means a Medicare-like program which would be very similar to Medicare, which would be accessible for everybody as a basic level of insurance,” Polis said. “People understand Medicare, there’s a comfort level with it. I know a lot of 59 and 60 year olds who wish they had it now.”
Running for Polis’ seat in the House is Democrat Joe Neguse, who also spoke out in favor of Medicare for all on Friday.
“There’s a lot of places where Obamacare is not working, and Summit and Eagle Counties is a great example of this,” Neguse said. “The premiums are so high that you won’t be able afford the deductible if you need it, so one is hard pressed to call it insurance. With Medicare for all, ultimately you create a system in which everyone has coverage. To me, it’s the morally right thing to do, and the economically right thing to do. Ultimately, what we need is competition, and you breed competition through a public option.”
Lieutenant Governor Donna Lynne, who declared her candidacy for Governor on Thursday, said on Friday that health care is her area of expertise, and the area voters will benefit from most if she is elected governor.
“Health care in Garfield, Pitkin, Eagle and Summit counties is the most expensive in the United States,” Lynne said Friday. “Four years ago John Hickenlooper said to me, when I was running Kaiser Permanante, what are you going to do about it? I said I’m going to build medical offices in these counties, we’re going to talk about affordable care and we’re going to deliver.”