Vail Daily column: Why I’m running for Congress

Steve Sheldon
Valley Voices

Last week I announced my candidacy for Congress in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. The first question everyone asks is: Why are you running, Steve?

We’re all more than a bit frustrated with the current state of affairs in Washington. Our legislative processes are broken. It’s no secret that too many members of Congress are not only beholden to special interest groups but are inextricably bound by partisan, divisive politics. That will not be me. I will be beholden only to you, my constituents.

I am not looking for a career in politics. Congress can have me for six years, maximum, and then it will be back to the job I love as a veterinarian. I have voluntary elected term limits. That is what our forefathers intended, for Congress to be run by ordinary citizens doing their civic duty for a short, defined period of time.

I am one of you — a small-business owner, father, outdoor lover and person who cares deeply about our great state. I’m a “good, solid, honest guy” as my wife says, and yes, that counts. I have five children, all of whom are currently in, or have been in, our public schools. I have built successful teams, started animal hospitals from the ground up and turned existing businesses around. I am active in the community and a steward for our Colorado lifestyle and environment. I know how to make hard choices to achieve best outcomes.

But enough about me. This is about you.

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Where are our leaders and elected officials when we need them most? Where America used to lead, we no longer do. For example:

• Our middle class is hurting. The heart of our nation struggles to get ahead while corporate executive compensation rises disproportionately.

• Despite the best doctors and technical capabilities, we are far from the top in healthcare.

• Our education system is ranked internationally in the middle of the pack in math and science.

• We must treat our veterans with the best care, yet we often fail to adequately address or acknowledge their needs.

• We are unnecessarily revisiting women’s health issues that we solved decades ago.

• In the face of irrefutable science, half our politicians deny global warming is man-made and should be addressed. Thus, we are slower to convert to renewable energy than many other leading countries. Let’s balance support for our existing energy industries that provide crucial jobs and foster a healthy environment.

This is just a small sample of the many areas where we need to start making intelligent, fact-based decisions. Independent, honest analysis should guide us, not self-serving industry lobbyists

I have read many surveys that say Americans care most about one thing — opportunity and an even playing field. It was there for me as it was for my immigrant grandparents and my parents. I want to make sure it is there for all of our children and future generations of Americans. Opportunity and a fair chance is what makes America great.

Notwithstanding our problems, we hit the jackpot to live in such a great and unique country. Ask anyone who visits here from abroad and they will sing the praises of Americans and America. At our core, we are inclusive, outgoing and accepting. We are proud and compassionate people who help and take care of each other, especially in times of need. Let’s embrace our diversity, not use it as a weapon.

Like any business or relationship, staying great requires re-evaluation, adjustment and knowing when to stand firm and when to compromise. We can’t fix what is wrong without people willing to try. That’s why I’m running! To try to make our amazing nation its best self.

Steve Sheldon is a Democratic candidate for Colorado Congressional District 3.

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