Joe Neguse, Democrat candidate for Colorado’s second congressional district

By Dan Karpiel

The Surveyor

Timing is everything

When the opportunity to run for public office became available, Joe Neguse, Democrat Party candidate for Colorado’s second congressional district, jumped at the chance to give back to the county that has given him so much.

Joe Neguse

“(The) over-arching motivation for my service is my family’s journey to this country. As refugees they were given this incredible opportunity to be able to build a life in the United States and have freedoms and opportunities that don’t exist for a lot of people,” Neguse said. “At a very young age I was very cognizant of how lucky we were. I really felt an obligation to make sure those opportunities exist for generations that will succeed us.” Neguse’s parents emigrated from Eritrea before he was born, originally settling in California before moving to Colorado when Neguse was just five years old.

While young in age (34 years old), Neguse has been serving in public office for more than a decade. At 23, while still a law student at the University of Colorado-Boulder, Neguse ran for and won a seat on the CU Board of Regents. After serving a six-year term as a regent, he was appointed and unanimously confirmed to serve in the cabinet of Governor John Hickenlooper as executive director of the Colorado Department Regulatory Agencies.

“I’ve always believed that experience is important” Neguse said. “I have had this unique opportunity to serve, to work in public policy, to find solutions to our problems to ultimately address the challenges we face. Even though I’m only 34, I have more public policy experience than all the other candidates in the race combined.”

Neguse believes he possesses a unique ability to build coalitions and work across party lines to solve pressing issues facing the district, the state and the country. While his stances on most major issues are typically in line with the modern progressive movement in the Democrat Party, such as opposition to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and support for the Medicare-for-all health insurance proposal, Neguse says he’s willing to work across party lines.

As he explained, “It’s tough right now given this toxic, divisive political environment we have, how so much of which used to be bipartisan or nonpartisan has become partisan, but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying, and that’s certainly the approach I took when I was a regent.”

“Having been in office, having been in public service, my sense is that in Colorado we do things differently. Coloradoans have this unique ability to work across party lines and do things that benefit our state, and that is something that seems like it’s in short supply 3,000 miles away in Washington,” Neguse said.

In speaking with voters from across the large second congressional district, an area which includes all of Larimer, Boulder, Clear Creek, Gilpin, Grand and Summit counties, while also stretching into the Vail area in Eagle and the western portion of Jefferson Counties, Neguse said he has found there are three principle issues on which voters are focused – affordability, protecting natural areas, and managing growth.

“Across the district folks are very concerned about affordability. Affordability to live in a home, to purchase a home, to have health insurance, to have the ability to participate in the economy and live one’s dreams,” Neguse said. Health insurance is a central tenet of Neguse’s campaign, and he enthusiastically supports the Medicare-for-all proposal that is also championed by the district’s current representative, Jared Polis.

 

“Part of this, and this is why I’m spending so much time talking about it, is when you engage with folks on the details it becomes a much more palpable piece of legislation that I think people can rally behind,” Neguse said of Medicare-for-all. “When I talk to small business owners they are incensed with the increasing costs in the insurance space when they keep paying more and more every year in the small group-insurance market.”

He continued, “We’re spending more on healthcare per capita than any other country in the western world with worse health outcomes in a variety of respects … there is a lot of progress to be made on this issue so I’m engaging with voters to hear them out, hear their concerns about it, and I hope disabuse folks about any stereotypes they may have on the issue.”

Neguse called the district “the most beautiful congressional district in the country,” and said, “protecting those public lands, those open spaces that we’re so lucky to have so the next generation can enjoy those same public lands,” will be a focus for him if elected. Neguse is opposed to oil and gas exploration and extraction on federal public lands and vows to fight to protect open space, saying that doing so is a way of “protecting our way of life.”

Neguse expressed concern with what he says are roll-backs in environmental protection measures enacted by the Trump Administration, saying, “I think in the case of environmental regulation we have too little and that’s the result of this administration rolling back so much of the progress we made, in my view, during the Obama Administration.”

The non-partisan Cook Political Report classifies the second congressional district with voting index favoring the Democrats by plus-nine percentage points. While that makes Neguse the favorite over Republican candidate Peter Yu, Neguse said he is not taking anything for granted and will work hard to earn every vote he can.

“Fundamentally it is about making sure the people of this district’s interests are represented,” Neguse said. “From my perspective, the congressperson from this district has an obligation to represent everyone, not just the folks that voted for him or her. We are running an active, aggressive campaign to talk to as many voters as we can and earn every vote we can. So many of these conversations are important.”

Asked to sum up his overall message to voters, Neguse said, “At the end of the day, if they are interested in competent government, if they want someone who is going to ultimately represent their interests, someone they might not always agree with, but they know where that person stands and they know that person, that representative will be here in the community to listen to their concerns, to hear them out, to turn down the temperature of our politics and work to solve problems, then I hope they would consider me. I think my background, my experience, speaks to my ability to do that.”

Further information on Neguse’s campaign can be found at www.joeneguseforcongress.com.

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