Q&A with Gov. John Hickenlooper, Democrat candidate for U.S. Senate

John Hickenlooper
Courtesy photo

Q. The debate around coronavirus public health orders often pits the economy against human life. What do you think the Trump administration did right and wrong in the first six months of pandemic response?

A. To respond to the economic crisis, we must first get the threat to our public health under control. We need urgent investment in testing, contact tracing and vaccine research, so we can get our arms around this virus and fully reopen. Over the last six months, I’ve heard from Colorado’s small businesses and the workers they employ, and they are hurting — some have had to close their doors for good. And instead of fighting for much needed relief, Washington left them behind, taking multiple recesses while unemployment insurance ran dry and Colorado families suffered. And we recently found out that President Trump was intentionally lying to the American people about the severity of this pandemic, and Sen. Gardner has stood by silently, yet again putting loyalty to President Trump ahead of the people of Colorado.

Q. What would you include in a new coronavirus relief package, and how would those proposals help individuals and businesses?

A. Until a vaccine becomes universally available, we need to adapt to life with the virus. To do so, Congress must provide additional financial relief so that the state and local governments, school systems, hospitals and small businesses that have been overwhelmed by this pandemic can begin to rebuild. We need to immediately reinstate and extend additional unemployment insurance for the thousands of Colorado workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. For our 630,000 small businesses and the 1.1 million Coloradans they employ, the stakes could not be higher. We must accelerate our efforts to enable small businesses to keep workers on payroll and give our smallest small businesses the tools they need to succeed. This summer, Sen. Gardner said it was “unfathomable” to go on recess without passing additional COVID relief, yet that’s exactly what he did.

Q. How do you plan to help Colorado’s mountain resort economies recover from the pandemic?

A. Colorado’s mountain resort economies have faced staggering damage because of COVID-19. Virtually overnight, they had to shut their doors and tell visitors from around the world to stay home. It was a decision that saved lives but has now left our mountain towns with some of the highest unemployment rates in Colorado. To help them rebuild in the short and long-term, we need leadership in Washington to provide additional grants and loans for small businesses so they can stay in business, protect our public lands and pass the CORE Act, and address our climate crisis. These measures will ensure we not only build back but expand our outdoor recreation economy to be stronger than before. 

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Q. In an increasingly partisan political environment, how do you plan to successfully reach across the aisle to work with members of the opposing party?

A. I’m running for the Senate because we need to start getting things done in Washington. As mayor and governor, I worked with both parties to make sure we were delivering for the people of Colorado. It involves making compromises and working together with people who you may not always see eye-to-eye with. Instead of focusing on our differences, I want to come to the table and find the areas where we can agree. When I was mayor of Denver, we brought together Democratic, Republican and Independent mayors from across the metro area to make a massive expansion to our public transit system. As governor, we were able to work on a bipartisan basis to expand Medicaid and get health care to 500,000 more people in our state. There is alway going to be partisanship in politics — we’re kidding ourselves if we think otherwise, but with a little innovation, creativity and a willingness to work together we can get the job done. From COVID-19 relief to climate change, we need to find areas of commonality and not be afraid to have the hard conversations to move the ball forward. 

Q. How should Congress respond to the ongoing social justice movement surrounding police brutality against Black men?

A. The United States has a long history of racism, segregation and legalized oppression based on skin color. The economic disadvantages associated with race are varied and persist to this day. Any form of discrimination, either overt or covert, has no place in our state or country. We must ensure all people have access to quality education, a strong social safety net, family-sustaining jobs and physical security. I am committed to working hand-in-hand with communities of color to design economically just reforms that make an impact on the legacy of inequality that has plagued our country for generations. Bills, such as the Justice in Policing Act, would change the culture of law enforcement to build trust between our communities and police officers and ensure we are taking a comprehensive approach to accountability. 

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