I’ve been on an incredible journey throughout my life. My parents are both hard working people. I know what it’s like to be on public assistance. I know what it’s like to go without. I grew up knowing the value of a good education and through hard work I got to where I am today. The Army taught me the value of working as a team and taking charge in high stress situations, and it’s paid off. My past has led me to my stance on the issues that matter to me.
Growth and Housing
The cornerstone of my campaign is managing Colorado’s growth. We’re the second fastest growing state in America, and with that comes great responsibility to responsibly craft policy that ensures affordable housing for the people who call Colorado home. We must preserve our natural resources, ensure housing prices are stabilized and address the rising homelessness that continues to affect our state. The rising price of housing here in Colorado is pricing our workforce out of the cities where they work, and that’s going to start hurting us economically. There are common sense approaches that both Democrats and Republicans can get behind that I support on this issue, and I will champion these efforts to make Colorado affordable again.
I have always been a staunch supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. Denver is seen by many as a model of inclusiveness for the region and a haven for those seeking a better, more accepting life. Unfortunately there are other parts of Colorado who lobby hard to enact divisive laws that seek to discriminate against this community, and during my time working in the Capitol last session I saw more than a few of these bills go through. It is my stated purpose to stand firmly against LGBTQ+ discrimination and fight for the rights of all Americans to love who they love and be who they are.
97% of climate scientists agree that climate change is real and man made. You couldn’t get that sort of consensus on whether or not pizza is good. I believe climate change is one of the most pressing emergencies we face as a planet, and we must make smart, economically savvy moves that put our planet first. Luckily, there are a lot of good options available there, and Colorado is a pioneer in many of them. We must, however, take the welfare of our workforce into consideration. Job retraining and a transition plan need to be a part of any sort of renewable plan, and I won’t support a plan that puts thousands of Coloradans out of work without some way for them to retrain into new jobs in the renewable industry.
Since retiring from the military I’ve been blessed with Tricare, which has been a great benefit to me and my family. I want every American to have the peace of mind of having good insurance so that when they get sick they don’t go bankrupt or, even worse, they don’t neglect potentially life-threatening illnesses for fear of not being able to pay. I support universal healthcare, and the data showing that costs to individuals for that healthcare would go down dramatically is significant.
As a veteran I have been enormously lucky to have served with the finest Americans our country has to offer. We are a proud bunch, and sometimes we’re too proud to ask for help. That’s why I want to put more funding into veterans’ services that counter the scourge of veteran suicide. I’ve had 7 friends commit suicide either while in service or after they’ve gotten out. It’s far worse than our casualties in war.
When I was in Iraq, a friend of mine was killed. After we reviewed his records it turned out that he was undocumented. He had forged some paperwork to come into the Army and serve his country. He had come into this country as a child and grown up in California. This was 2007, but had it been a few years later he would have qualified for DACA. He, and the 800,000 people like him, represent what is best about America. I stand behind our Dreamers and will fight to protect them with every breath I take.
To our other immigrants, I live in the Valverde neighborhood. Some of my neighbors are citizens and some are not. Some speak English and some do not. But in my time in the military I’ve lived all across the U.S. in dozens of different neighborhoods before coming back here and this is the most patriotic place I’ve ever lived. These people love their country; that’s right, THEIR country: the United States. They wave their flag. They celebrate the 4th of July. They cheer for the Broncos, even this season. They retain the traditions of their heritage and they embrace their new country as well. Being American is more than paperwork. It’s a love of one’s country and a desire to work for this country, and my neighbors do that. We need policies that help sort out the paperwork part for some of them, and we need to protect others from discriminatory policies that target people of brown skin. There’s no place for racism in our America.
We need pathways to citizenship, even for those who came here without documentation. I support safe spaces for undocumented immigrants, I support driver’s licenses for undocumented Coloradans and I support creating a more inclusive state; a state that they’ve helped to build.
I’ve been privileged to work with some of the finest people in the world: SEALs, Green Berets, Air Force TAC-Ps, Marine CSOs, etc… But I’m still in awe of the work our teachers do. When we talk about selfless service we need to remember the men and women who show up every day to educate our young people and make our next generation’s lives their daily priority. Our public schools are a national asset and they must come first. That’s why I support better pay for teachers, better facilities for our schools and giving teachers better retirement options so that they don’t have to worry about working part time jobs to make ends meet.
I grew up with guns. My dad taught me to shoot when I was 6 years old and taught me respect for the power of firearms. I got my first shotgun when I was 11; a 410, which we used for dove hunting. Throughout my career in the Army and fighting in two wars, I’ve used virtually every weapon in the Army’s small arms inventory, not to mention the Abrams tank. I still own firearms, and I keep them in a locked safe. However, there are some things that need some work when it comes to legislating firearms in our country. We need universal background checks and we need them to deny people with a history of domestic violence the ability to buy a gun. Domestic violence is a key indicator of someone who will do harm, and I’m not going to cry over their losing their ability to inflict that harm on the innocent. I do, however, support concealed carry permits, and even a nationwide concealed carry permit, as it promotes responsible gun ownership and safety. I have personal experience with crime being stopped by someone with a concealed carry, and I think the program promotes good gun owners being good members of the community.
Women’s Rights and Gender Equality
This is a broad category, and I overwhelmingly support women on equal pay, gender equality and reproductive rights. I appreciate the difficult situation that many women are in where they are both homemaker and breadwinner, and we need to help make that task easier by making daycare tax deductible. Since the beginning of the #MeToo movement hundreds of women, and men, have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against people in positions of power. This has mostly involved powerful men abusing women. This has even infected the Colorado Capitol. I had a zero tolerance policy against sexual harassment in the Army and I will pursue that as a legislator.
On the topic of Gender Equality it is vitally important that we ensure that we close the pay gap and help to break glass ceilings for women who are stifled in their workplaces. The best commander I ever worked for was a woman, and she led us through Afghanistan with unparalleled professionalism that kept our Company together through some tough times. Women lead just as well as men, and in my time in service I’ve seen phenomenal leaders of multiple genders doing what they do best: leading.
Criminal Justice Reform
The private prison system, it should go without saying, is akin to modern-day slavery. It is making money off the backs of people who are unpaid or underpaid, coerced into work, and who are under threat of physical harm for non-compliance.
It also incentivizes incarceration by putting a price tag on human lives and we’ve seen judges get kickbacks for sending people to jail. This is not justice; it’s a racket.
We also need to empower the Attorney General to investigate instances of police uses of force that end in the loss of civilian life. Intradepartmental investigation has proven to not be sufficient for bringing these incidents under sufficient scrutiny and they need additional oversight.