Polis vying for second term | VailDaily.com

Polis vying for second term

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – At 35, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis has already accomplished what many people can only hope to in a lifetime.

Polis, who is running for re-election for the 2nd Congressional District in Colorado, is running a campaign focusing on the economy, job creation and improving education and the country’s broken immigration system.

Polis was the first openly gay freshman elected to Congress when he won in 2008. He was also just named one of Time Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 rising American political stars.

Polis, a passionate educator and philanthropist, founded the New America School, which has a location in Gypsum. The school is a charter school mainly for immigrants trying to learn and master English.

He told Time Magazine that if he weren’t a member of Congress, he’d probably be superintendent of the New America School chain.

Polis said he’s proud of his first session in Congress. He said he was able to get rid of some tax increases in the health care debate, in which he voted against the first time around before eventually voting in favor of it.

Polis said Congress made solid progress on education initiatives, especially in the area of nutrition, which is something Polis has been passionate about.

He introduced the Healthy School Meals Act of 2010, which promotes serving “plant-based” foods in schools, last spring and hopes to have it to President Obama for his signature by the end of the year.

The 2nd Congressional District in Colorado includes Boulder, northwestern Denver suburbs, Eagle, Grand, Summit, and Gilpin counties. The House seat hasn’t been held by a Republican in more than 40 years.

Polis isn’t focused on Republican traction nationwide and said he’s had nothing but civil interactions with Republicans and members of the Tea Party movement as he’s been campaigning in recent weeks.

“Any movement that encourages civic engagement is a good one,” Polis said.

Polis, who serves on the House Rules Committee and the House Education and Labor Committee, said there’s a lot on his mind about the mountain region portion of his district.

The mountain pine beetle and fire preparedness are always top-of-mind, he said. Polis has sponsored legislation that authorizes a supplemental funding source for catastrophic emergency wildland fires.

“Fire preparedness is very important,” Polis said.

Polis also introduced the Eagle and Summit County Wildnerness Preservation Act in September, which is a bill that he crafted after hearing months of input from both the Hidden Gems Wilderness Campaign and constituents.

“(The bill) is very different than the Hidden Gems proposal,” Polis said. “We set a few ground rules. We didn’t want to close off bike trails, but we also wanted to preserve areas for future generations and we were able to find some consensus.”

Immigration is an issue that affects much of Colorado, and Polis said the country’s immigration policy is broken and he’s hopeful the next Congress can help solve the problems.

“I think the American people are fed up with politicians playing games with (immigration) proposals. We all know where (policy) needs to wind up, but the process of getting there is difficult,” Polis said. “Every day there are millions violating the law in this country. We shouldn’t tolerate having millions here illegally.”

Polis said his goals for a second term include working on encouraging small businesses to grow, job growth, working to create traffic solutions along Interstate 70 through federal funding, and eliminating the federal budget deficit.

“We have to stop living beyond our means,” Polis said.

Polis, the sixth wealthiest member of Congress with an estimated net worth in the $160 million neighborhood, has spent about $400,000 of his own money on his campaign as of Sept. 30. He spent nearly $6 million of his own money to win the 2008 election.

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at lglendenning@vaildaily.com.

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