Mike Miles, Democratic candidate for Colorado's U.S. Senate seat, grew up poor with eight siblings in Colorado Springs -- "the go-to-bed-hungry kind of poor," he said.
That didn't stop him.
Miles, 46, now lives by the words of Mohandas Gandhi: "Be the change you want to see in the world."
Miles, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, discussed his philosophies while introducing himself to voters during an informal meeting in Steamboat Springs on Saturday morning. In his Routt County campaign kickoff, Miles answered questions on local and national issues, and did the same as he later walked door to door, talking with Steamboat Springs voters.
"We can do something to make a difference," Miles said during the meeting, held at the Creekside Grill and Cafe. "I feel we are losing our democracy by inches, and I will fight to win it back."
Miles said he is a proponent of service over wealth and common good over special interests.
As an example, he said that in 1995 a former colleague offered him a $100,000 salary for a job in telecommunications, but he turned it down in favor of a $24,000 teaching job in his hometown of Colorado Springs.
"It was a tough decision, don't get me wrong," Miles said. "But I wanted to do public service; that's where it's at."
Miles used Gandhi's creed before incorporating it into his political campaign. He loved school as a child, he said, and used his good grades to get into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. After serving about five years as an Army Ranger, he earned a bachelor's degree in Russian from the University of California at Berkley and a master's in international affairs from Columbia University in New York.
Miles got a job at the U.S. State Department and eventually served as special assistant to the ambassador to Russia at the end of the Cold War. Miles was in Moscow at the time of the October 1993 coup d'etat.
Miles came back to the United States to take a teaching job at the same Colorado Springs high school he attended as a youth. Later, as principal of Fountain Middle School, he brought failing students up and beyond passing, Miles said.
Working in the education system, Miles said he understands what schools need to improve: Schools don't need more slogans like "leave no child behind," but rather need solutions to recruit and retain quality teachers. Implementing more incentives, such as tax credits, could help, he said.
Miles said he would oppose any legislation that cut money from education.
On the issue of health care, Miles said he was particularly worried about American citizens paying increasingly more for health care premiums. He said federal money now used for Pentagon expenditures could instead be used to lower the cost of health care.
Also, he said the $350 billion tax cut President Bush signed May 28 could have been used to lower health care costs or improve education funding.
Also, whereas Bush said the tax cut would fuel an economic recovery and create jobs, Miles said that money could have been used to employ people directly for researching alternative fuels such as hydrogen-power for vehicles, and wind and solar energy for home use.
And, although he believes finishing the job in Iraq is important, the $4 billion spent each month for continuing military efforts in Iraq could help with issues on home soil.
Miles visited Routt and Moffat counties Saturday, part of a summer tour of the state that he is using to raise awareness of his bid to challenge Republican Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell. Republican Dan O'Brien of Colorado Springs also is running for the seat.
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