Cary Kennedy Gubernatorial candidate for Colorado 2018 held a meet and greet reception at the Inn at SilverCreek Steakhouse on May 15, 2017. I spent a little over an hour discussing philosophies, policies, vision and problems Coloradans face in the coming years. Here are some of the excerpts from our discussion.
Cary grew up in Evergreen and Denver and graduated from Manual High School in Denver. Growing up, Cary had a large family with three brothers and sisters who joined her family through the foster care program and a sister who joined her family through a faith-based organization. Cary saw what happens when kids don’t get the opportunities they need to succeed. This motivated Cary to start her career working to increase funding for public schools — so that all kids can have better opportunities to succeed.
Cary and her husband Saurabh Mangalik raised their two children, Kyra and Kadin, here in Colorado. Cary was raised with the value of service, and has passed that on to her kids. Cary learned at an early age from her mother, who is a social worker, that we have an obligation to reach out and take care of one another and protect the Colorado we love.
“We all love Colorado and living here. Colorado is innovative, forward thinking, solutions-oriented, and welcoming. We have built one of the fastest-growing economies in the nation. But, our work in Colorado just got a lot tougher. We lost our partner in Washington. We won’t let Washington take our state backwards. I am running for governor because I love Colorado. If we invest in our people, manage our money responsibly, and protect the Colorado we love, we can ensure that everyone here can benefit from our progress.”
“Our work in Colorado just got a lot tougher. We lost our partner in Washington. We won’t let Washington take our state backwards. I am running for governor because I love Colorado.”
As Colorado State Treasurer and then as Denver’s Deputy Mayor and Chief Financial Officer, Cary has managed Colorado taxpayer’s money for over a decade. During volatile economic times, she put both the State and Denver on stronger financial footing. As State Treasurer, she ended risky Wall Street investments before the Great Recession, avoiding the losses that other states incurred. Cary opened the books of Colorado’s government, creating searchable databases of expenditures at the state and in Denver. Under her leadership as CFO, Denver was recognized as one of the best financially run cities and the best city in the country to do business.
How do you govern in the murky waters of politics today, in a country that has become extremely judgemental and politically divisive?
This is a place where Colorado stands out and we are different. We are not Washington and I have been a part of Colorado’s leadership team here for the past 10 even 20 years and what I have seen here in Colorado, we do have the relationships and the friendships and the trust to get things done across party lines and I know you hear people say that but it really is true in Colorado. I see people much more willing to come together and willing to open a conversation or dialogue and most of the people we elect in Colorado are pretty moderate. They bring good business sense to the job and if you look at the success of this legislative session.
There were some really important legislation that got passed and it was a lot of dialogue and conversation. I worked on several very large pieces of legislation that involved strong bipartisan support and really statewide support and we had partners all over the state that worked with us to get it passed. It is a long process but it is an important process because you bring all the voices to the table and I think people in Colorado have a value of listening and respecting other people’s opinions and not getting caught in that real divisive trap that has created a complete stalemate in Washington.
What do type of leadership do you want to bring to the Governor’s office?
I want to build state wide partnerships and coalitions to really get things done. I am running for the office because I believe we can get good things done. I started my career working for Roy Romer and watched the incredible success that he had as Governor and watched the incredible success worked alongside Governor Ritter. Been very much a part of the leadership team over the last decade and I think we can be proud what we see happening in Colorado. Our state is innovative, modern and forward looking and there are many instances where the country looks at Colorado and says, “That’s a state that is onto something, they are doing it right.” We have challenges in front of us but I think we can feel pretty good about the work we are doing here in Colorado today.
The political health care battle continues to worry most Americans especially, in rural communities like Grand County, what are your thoughts on the current administration’s push to roll back the Affordable Care Act and the new legislation Colorado passed on Medicaid Expansion and the exemption of the hospital, provider fee, revenue cap on spending?
Rural Colorado is the most vulnerable in my opinion to the volatility that we are seeing in the healthcare market and the affordable care act, the expansions to the medicaid program really help stabilize things. The challenge in rural colorado is the cost. Premiums are still very expensive for most families and individuals. We see challenges in a lot of markets in rural markets around the state but healthcare is one where it creates a particular challenge. Most folks up here are living on working wages and when you look at that bill that heal insurance bill, its quite high.
Families up here really rely on the subsidies that have been made available with the affordable healthcare act. They really rely on things like the child health plan and medicaid for basic access to healthcare. I actually started my career working to expand access to healthcare for low income children throughout rural colorado. I was the budget director for the child health plan when we first got it started here Colorado and rolled it out and got thousands of more kids from around our state covered so I remember the days when many parents couldn’t take their kids to see a doctor and as we all know having parents, children or family members that have medical challenges, there is nothing more important than access to healthcare. I supported the expansion of medicaid here and applaud the tremendous success that Colorado has had so it goes back to those partnerships with local communities that we were talking about. There are some real success stories in Colorado.
Statewide today almost 94% of the people in our state have health insurance. That is a historic number and something we can all be proud of. When you look at children it is almost 97.5% of the kids in our state have coverage.
That is the hard work of people working in the clinics, in the hospitals, in the social services offices, in the doctors offices who reach out and help people get coverage. What’s happening in Washington today is a huge mistake. I don’t think people that supported this president, supported the republicans in congress expected to see the kind of rollback of health care coverage that the house has passed and now is going to go to the senate. I am very hopeful our delegates, both senators will oppose that proposal because a half a million people in Colorado are at risk of losing their health insurance. I would like to see us work together to maintain that coverage. Everybody should be able to see a doctor and have that health care coverage. I want to see us working together state, federal and local partners to bring that cost of care down.
What steps has Colorado Legislation taken to help protect Rural Community Hospitals and clinics in Colorado?
We saw a really important step taken by the general assembly that I have been advocating for years here in Colorado which was to exempt the hospital provider fee revenue from the constitutional caps on spending and that will help protect our rural hospitals from facing even deeper cuts. There were threats in Washington as well, as that issue here at the state. That was an important success this legislative session to avoid those state cuts that would have hit the rural hospitals the hardest. Rural hospitals are smaller and don’t have the economies of scale, they dont have the margin that the big systems do. Certainly the independent hospitals have a real challenge. We have to applaud the great people who are delivering healthcare in rural communities. The leadership in the capital needs to listen to the challenges that rural communities face.
Were not going to accept and we never should accept rationing care or denying care to someone who is sick. It’s going to be paid for one way or another I don’t think the responsibility to should fall solely on the taxpayers of Colorado or any individual state.
I think there should be federal participation and I think as we see the dialogue I think it is the reason why the initial American Health care Act failed. The people of this country and the people of Colorado are not willing to accept 24 million people losing their healthcare. 500 Thousand people here in Colorado. It isn’t what anybody wants, Democratic or Republican, conservative or liberal, that’s not what anybody wants. We need to work together to find the most efficient partnership between the state and the federal government to deliver that care in the most efficient ways. There are a lot of ways we can improve healthcare delivery and lower costs particularly in areas like rural Colorado. That’s what we need to be talking about not about cutting benefits.
How do we balance the protection of the “land we love” and the maintenance needs of our infrastructure and road system access areas.
You will hear me talk about on the campaign about protecting what we love about Colorado. Public lands, wilderness areas, open space right, are all critically important. We value and treasure those assets. We know they give us a huge economic advantage but we also just love this state. We don’t ever want to jeopardize losing how special these assets are. For a long time Parks and Wildlife has indicated a need for an additional source of revenue in order to meet the growing demand on our land.
I grew up in Colorado and have watched our state’s population double in my lifetime and if the forecasters are right, it is going to double again. Think about what Colorado looks like with another 3-4 million people living here using the public lands, trails reservoirs,and the recreational opportunities. So the management and demands on Parks and Wildlife to manage those lands in a way that we protect our state and the land we love is so important. That’s the balance and over time we absolutely have to make sure that we are making the investment to support the work that needs to get done.
Let’s talk about the importance of the public education system in Colorado.
We are one of the most innovative forward looking modern economies in the country. We are a model in so many ways whether it is clean energy, tech or innovation and we should be applying that right into our public school system. And giving our school districts the tools and resources to really go… not just to the next level but to go 3 4 or 5 levels beyond. I do believe that the public education system in Colorado is under funded and inequitable. We have districts around the state that just simply do not have the tools or resources to give their kids that individualized curriculum, to give them those opportunities.
We need a governor, it is one of the reasons I am running for this office, that will create a vision for this state that we all share. When you send your child into our public school they are going to have opportunities of a lifetime to pursue their passion. I want people around the country to say “you went to school in Colorado, we want you! Because we know you were given so much support and so many opportunities we know you are going to be the top.” That’s what I want.
The cuts we have made in education have been a mistake and I think we have an opportunity for Colorado to really lay out a vision. What do we want for our public education system? That’s what is really exciting to me about running for Governor. I really think about a big vision for our state that gives our kids real opportunities in our school system.
Colorado public schools are ranked 23rd on average across the nation. With so many financial priorities in our state, why invest additional funds in the public school system?
We have this innovative knowledge based economy that is attracting businesses from all over country and all over the world. While I was the Chief financial officer and the while I was the state treasurer, I was involved in a lot of large economic development projects, businesses coming into Colorado they see the opportunity and the potential here and what I fear and I see is that many companies are looking outside of Colorado to fill their highest paying jobs. They are recruiting from out of state. I want our kids growing up here to have the educational foundation to stay here and they can get those jobs. Every parent wants the best opportunity for their kids. When you look across Colorado today, not half the kids statewide are reaching the standards we have set for them.
Cary’s passion for governing shined through in our conversation. She has a big vision for education and her life’s work proves she is an innovative problem solver. As the author of Amendment 23, Cary has been on the forefront of fighting for public education for Colorado’s kids. She crafted the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program that funded – and continues to fund – the renovation and replacement of hundreds of crumbling and dilapidated schools across Colorado.
Our time ran short but we also touched on renewable energy, fracking, marijuana and a couple of other topics you may find interesting. Take a minute to watch all the clips from our conversation listed below.
Cary Kennedy 2018 Gubernatorial Candidate
Interview Granby, Colorado 05/15/17
Reporter: Michael Turner. Winter Park Times and Grand County TV18
1 Divisive Politics https://youtu.be/yneP6K2lEIg
2 Healthcare Concerns https://youtu.be/yktSS-ZzoU8
3 Public Land and Infrastructure. https://youtu.be/dAG7wo1l6SM
4 Educational Focus https://youtu.be/PvnbO7evZWw
5 Natural Resources, Fracking and Renewable Energy https://youtu.be/eu_9UUqQEjg
6 Marijuana https://youtu.be/ywsAcIzW-nE
7 Final Message https://youtu.be/T6vYWhs_fcE