The next governor of Colorado’s No. 1 responsibility will be bringing jobs and economic recovery back to our state. My experience running a successful business, creating jobs and balancing tough budgets for Colorado’s largest city makes me uniquely qualified to get Colorado back on its feet. I am running for governor because I think I can turn this state around faster than anyone else.
I opened a brewpub in the middle of a recession, and I grew it into a successful business with restaurants all across the country by finding efficiencies and doing more with less money. Colorado’s next governor should be someone who has met payrolls, overcome budget deficits and created jobs.
I was elected mayor of Denver to change what I called “the fundamental nonsense of government.” I took office in a budget crisis, and since then, I have closed budget gaps of more than $350 million. We consolidated city office space and redundant programs, annulled tenured salaries in the city and reduced the size of government by more than 7 percent. I brought a business approach to government that included overhauling the city’s financial system, creating the city’s first chief financial officer and changing the city’s culture to be business-friendly while maintaining the highest standards for the safety and health of our citizens.
I am the only candidate for governor with a concrete plan to create jobs for Colorado. I will work with business leaders and citizens in every county to expand local businesses and attract new ones. The idea is to have each community tell the state how best to create jobs in different regions, rather than a having a room full of experts at the state Capitol dictate a plan to the rest of the state.
I want to brand Colorado as a business-friendly center for innovation. I visited SmartWool in Steamboat Springs this past summer during one of my stops in Routt County. SmartWool could be anywhere, but it chose to be in Colorado. We want to attract more innovative businesses like SmartWool, and make sure people all across the nation know that Colorado is the best place to live, work and play.
Finally, I am going to cut red tape. As a former business owner, I understand that sometimes the best thing government can do for business is get out of the way. For Colorado to create jobs, the next governor must ensure state government is functioning as efficiently as possible, without sacrificing protections for the land and water that bring so many people to Colorado.
But we cannot build a sound economic engine in Colorado if we do not have an educated work force. Education is a priority for me, and I know it is a priority for my running mate Joe Garcia, the president of Colorado State University-Pueblo and co-chair of the P-20 Education Coordinating Council. We will achieve more in these difficult times by finding redundancies in the system, leveraging federal grant monies and encouraging public-private partnerships.
It’s important for Colorado to have the best transportation system we can afford, but in this economy, that means making the best use of the available resources — even as the demands on the state’s infrastructure increase. There is no appetite in Colorado to raise taxes for this issue or others. Tough times call for tough choices and pinching every penny. By making our projects as efficient as possible, we can do more with the funding we have today.
We face enormous challenges in Colorado. Our state needs a leader who has experience creating jobs and finding solutions. It’s the only way we’re going to turn this economy around. Too many politicians spend their time looking for a conflict to exploit for political gain. I have a track record — in the private sector and in public office — of finding solutions to get the job done. That’s the kind of leadership Colorado needs.
John Hickenlooper is a Democrat running for Colorado governor.