CU Board of Regents candidate reaches out to Steamboat residents

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Go to www.hartforcu.com for more information about Melissa Hart.

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Melissa Hart

— Melissa Hart said as the University of Colorado goes, so goes the state’s economy.

Hart, a Democratic candidate for the University of Colorado Board of Regents, spent time in Steamboat Springs on Sat­urday talking to residents about CU and why its governing body matters to them. On Sunday morning in downtown Steamboat, Hart said the University of Colorado system is the state’s fourth-largest employer. She said it spends $7 million annually on goods and services in Colorado.

“If CU is thriving, the state economy is thriving,” she said. “That helps everyone.”

Hart, a law professor on the CU-Boulder campus, is challenging Republican Steve Bosley, the chairman of the Board of Regents, for one of two at-large seats on the nine-member board. The other seven seats on the board are elected from each of Colorado’s seven congressional districts. All terms are six years.

Hart was in town Saturday morning with gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper, the Democratic mayor of Denver. Hickenlooper met with about 60 people at Yampa River Botantic Park. Hart also joined Hickenlooper in Meeker this past weekend.

Another reason the Board of Regents should matter to local residents is because many have children who have attended, attend or may attend the university, said Catherine Carson, chairwoman of the Routt County Democratic Party. Carson said that in addition, the university collaborates with Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus in Steamboat. The local CMC campus can start students on an engineering track they can finish at CU.

Carson said she was impressed with Hart because she took time to meet with county residents about their concerns and was interested in supporting needs of people statewide.

“CU is all of Colorado, not just Boulder or Denver,” Carson said. “It’s nice to have a regent candidate who’s out learning from all parts of the state.”

She added that Hart also is supportive of the CMC four-year degree programs that were recently signed into law.

Hart said the biggest issues facing the university are its cost of operations and finding alternatives to raising tuition and cutting programs, such as encouraging public-private partnerships. She said the university’s decision last week to move from the Big 12 Conference to the Pacific 10 Conference would help generate additional revenue and align the university with other respected academic institutions, a decision she supports. She also said it’s important for the university to live within a reduced budget.

Another key issue, she said, is working to make sure Colorado students get the right education in grades K-12 and are prepared to attend CU. She added that making sure graduates are ready to enter the work force also is an important issue.

As a teacher, Hart could provide a voice for those issues, something she said the board currently lacks.

“In a race like this, the most important thing is telling people why this matters,” she said. “With my background in education, the time spent at the university working with staff, faculty and students, I know what the issues are. … I think that gives me the ability to make it a more affordable, accessible and successful institution.”

Hart, a graduate of Denver’s East High School, joined the University of Colorado Law School in 2000. She is a 1995 graduate of Harvard Law School. She will become the director of the Byron R. White Center for the Study of American Constitutional Law at CU next month. Hart and her husband, Kevin, have two children, Talia, 7, and Noah, 5.

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 871-4203 or e-mail jweinstein@steamboatpilot.com

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