Jared Polis speaks with students at roundtable prior to gubernatorial debate hosted at CSU

Matthew Bailey

As ballots hit mailboxes this week, Jared Polis visited Colorado State University to hear students’ thoughts on pressing issues facing Colorado.

Polis, the Democratic candidate for governor and congressional representative for Fort Collins’ district, conducted a roundtable event in Johnson Hall prior to his debate with Republican candidate Walker Stapleton Wednesday evening. Polis spoke with a group of 15 CSU students and community members about policy issues.

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Polis and Stapleton conducted their debate in the Lory Student Center Theatre, which was hosted by The Coloradoan and moderated by Kyle Clark and Marshall Zelinger of 9News. 

Polis spoke with a group of 15 CSU students and community members about policy issues. Some of the main issues that were discussed between Polis and the group were voter turnout rates, affordable education and funding for education.

“I chaired the state Board of Education,” Polis said. “I also worked with President Obama to replace No Child Left Behind with the Every Student Succeeds Act. I worked a lot, and we have a really exciting vision for the state.”

Polis asked students what ways they thought voter turnout rates could be increased.

One student talked about the importance of getting out-of-state students to vote, citing the influx of people from places such as California and Texas could directly influence state policy and government.

Another student added that they believe it is important to educate young voters about how to vote instead of letting outside influence determine political views. 

Other issues that were discussed included gun control, climate change, LGBTQ rights and mental health.

“These are some great issues,” Polis said. “Take ownership of your own network. Sororities, fraternities, sports teams, whatever you do, make sure they all empower and know how to vote. It’s a responsibility of citizenship. If we want our lives to be better, the Governor’s important.”

On the issue of attracting teachers to rural areas, Polis said there’s a problem retaining teachers throughout areas of Colorado, specifically using Alamosa as an example.

Polis said if he did become governor, he would implement a loan forgiveness program for teachers who work in underserved rural areas.

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“There’s really big disparities in our state between districts that have more resources and districts that don’t,” Polis said. “There’s districts that don’t even attract or retain teachers.”

In talking about Colorado ballot initiatives, Polis expressed his disapproval primarily with Proposition 74 and 109. Proposition 74 would require the state or local government to compensate property owners if a law or regulation reduces the value of their property, according to Colorado’s 2018 State Ballot Information Booklet. Proposition 109 proposes the state government borrow up to $3.5 billion in 2019 to fund up to 66 highway projects without raising taxes or fees on the public. 

Polis said Proposition 109 in particular takes funding away from schools and uses that money to pay for roads. 

Polis claimed there are other ways to pay for road repairs, citing Proposition 110, which would increase Colorado’s sales and use tax rate in order to fund transportation projects. Polis has previously said that, although he does not endorse the 3.52 percent sales tax increase, if elected he would approve the proposition, according to Colorado Public Radio. 

Polis closed the discussion by explaining to students why and how he plans to represent the state of Colorado as governor if elected.

“I started businesses and built businesses, that’s what I did for the first part of my career. Then I got involved with education, and then representing Colorado in Congress,” Polis said. “So I know enough about the political process to be able to get some of these things done rather than just talk about it.”

Matt Bailey can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @mattbailey760.