An open letter to the people of Colorado: in defense of John Hickenlooper

I never once voted for John Hickenlooper.  In fact, I spent a considerable amount of my life opposing the former governor.  2020 has shown us that not only can circumstances change rapidly, so can our perspective. The twenty-first century was first dominated with overseas wars for oil and morphed into a public health crisis the likes of which have not been witnessed for over a century.  While I have never voted for John Hickenlooper before, I write an open letter to all Coloradans as to why they should vote for the former two term governor for the U.S. Senate

I love Colorado.  As the saying goes, I was not fortunate enough to be born here, but I got here as fast as I could!  In May of 2009, at the age of nineteen, I packed up my 1991 Jeep Cherokee with all of my earthly possessions and drove the 1,600 miles from Oakland, NJ to Aurora, CO.  I moved here like many of you, with my vehicle filled to the brim, as well as an overwhelming sense of hope that a better life awaited me in the Centennial State.

Shortly after I moved to Aurora, I was hired to work for Colorado State Representative Cindy Acree (R-40).  Not only was I the legislative aide to Representative Acree; I had the distinct honor to also work for state Representatives Timothy Dore (R-64), Clarice Navarro (R-47) and Polly Lawrence (R-39) from 2010-2014.  I was elected to two terms as the President of the Denver Metro Young Republicans (2013-2014).   Suffice it to say, not only was I a very committed Republican activist for many years.

Before we continue any further, in the spirit of full disclosure, in October 2012 then-Governor John Hickenlooper appointed me to serve on a Selective Service System local board, an office that I still occupy today (a fact I find remarkable because I was working for the National Republican Congressional Committee just months prior to my appointment).

Our federal government, led ostensibly by President Donald Trump and his administration, has made America the single worst nation on the planet for the spread and lack of containment of this once in a generation pandemic.  America appears to be the hot spot worldwide, as other nations like Sweden, Japan and South Korea seem to have a handle on the situation.

All elected federal office holders share the blame for the failures of our national government to competently deal with this crisis, especially the elected Republicans who continue to defend the president.  Here at home, I watch our 9 federal legislators we send to Washington, D.C. contribute to the dysfunction and discord that President Trump creates every day.  Never have I been so thoroughly disappointed in an elected official in my life than I have with our junior United States Senator Cory Gardner, a man I once voted for.

In 2014, after serving two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, Cory Gardner famously ran TV ads with a simple promise, to be “an independent voice for Colorado and call out my party when they do the wrong thing.”   After six years, one would find it difficult to point to areas where he has demonstrated his independence.  Colorado has a proud tradition of electing legislators on both sides of the aisle who deliver great things for Colorado.   Pat Schroeder and Joel Hefley couldn’t agree on a breakfast order but they were always working together for what was best for Colorado.

Marijuana is the number one area where Colorado has pioneered a different, tenth amendment compliant approach to the regulation and taxation of both hemp and cannabis.  Cory Gardner may claim he has been “working” on this issue but his “work” has gone nowhere.  He has failed in the fight to allow legal Colorado marijuana businesses access to credit unions or traditional banking resources they desperately need.

The recent impeachment trial of President Trump proves that Senator Gardner is now a lemming willing to say or do anything that Majority Leader McConnell and President Donald Trump wish. The senator surprisingly moved his seat from his assigned desk in the back row to a seat in the first row, so he could be seen by the news cameras.  Now, two possibilities exist, either this was an exercise in pure vanity or he wanted to publicly support the president.  In contrast, our senior Senator Michael Bennet sat in his normal seat at his assigned desk for the impeachment.

Rather than answer for any of the above, he refuses to give straight answers to reporters.  Probably most disappointing is his refusal to host public town hall meetings.   The last time the senator hosted a public forum was 2017.

His incompetence is nearly eclipsed by his impotence at delivering on his promises to the people of Colorado.   The senator from Yuma has traded his John Deere tractor for a golf cart and 18 holes at Mar-a-Lago.   Florida has two very competent senators, I don’t think they need a third (or a fourth if you count New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, but I digress….)

The Democratic Primary for US Senate this year was boisterous.   In spite of my earlier Republican bona fides, I am now a registered Democrat and an elected Precinct Committee Person for Precinct 604 in Denver County.  I collected signatures on behalf of Lorena Garcia (in January and February prior to the COVID-19 quarantine) and I voted for Andrew Romanoff in the June 30th primary election.

That being said, here we are, with John Hickenlooper.   A man I didn’t vote for three times.  He spent sixteen years in office (8 as mayor and 8 as governor) and not a single scandal in that time would make me question his fitness for office today.  Former House Speaker Frank McNulty of Highlands Ranch, who recently filed a complaint with the Independent Ethics Commission against John Hickenlooper, will say, “But, Josh, he violated Amendment 41, he was fined $2,700 by the IEC so he must be a crook!”

Is John Hickenlooper unethical? The Independent Ethics Committee thoroughly looked at six incidents that McNulty claimed was evidence of corruption but ruled that just two of those six events were improper from his time as governor:

  • Trip to Italy:  The governor paid for his commercial flight to Italy for the Bilderberg Meetings in Turin, Italy ($1,500.00) but was found guilty of accepting “free meals and limo rides” to and from the festivities.
  • Colorado to Connecticut: The governor and at least one Republican state senator traveled to Connecticut for the dedication of the U.S.S. Colorado.   Larry Mizel, millionaire owner of MDC Holdings paid for the governor to fly in a private jet to the event.   The governor did reimburse Mr. Mizel for the flight but accepted food and ground travel while in Connecticut.

After sixteen years in public life, this is all they can dig up on the guy?  What a weak attempt by Republicans to slander a good man in order to save their puppet Cory Gardner.  You should expect more scurrilous attacks as we get closer to the election.  If the worst thing they can say about John Hickenlooper is that he had someone else pay for his expensive meals and few free rides in a stretch limo, then I simply laugh at how absurd their accusations of “corruption” are.

I ask you to judge John Hickenlooper and Cory Garder as the flawed men they are.  No one among us is perfectly innocent or genuinely evil.   I personally believe it is beyond dispute that both of the major party candidates for the United States Senate are decent human beings.  As I conclude this missive, I ask you to do serious research into both John Hickenlooper and Cory Gardner as we approach the November general election.   Colorado can once again be a beacon of enlightenment and compassion when we realize not only what is at stake but that the outcome is within our power to change.

Vox Populi Vox Dei,

Joshua S. Hursa

Mr. Joshua S. Hursa is a small business owner, Colorado notary public, medical marijuana patient/advocate, and political activist.  He resides in Denver, Colorado.  

Mr. Hursa has served as a local board member for the U.S. Selective Service System since 2012.  He also serves as the Education Director for the Aurora Historical Society.  

To find out more about The Hursa Family of Companies visit  www.joshuahursa.com

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Do Not Sign That Recall Petition

(Another Republican voice of reason — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Senator Robert Kennedy once said “All of us might wish at times that we lived in more tranquil world, but we don’t.  And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity” 

As Coloradans, we have a lot of freedom.  Through our state constitution, written in 1876 and continually amended, we have created a government of, by, and for the people.  Colorado voters expect the people they send to Denver as state senators and representatives to be busy during their 120 session. Those four months are challenging but they are also filled with opportunity.

Far from what you expect out of Washington D.C.; the Colorado General Assembly is comprised of 100 of the most unique individuals that you could assemble.  Every two years brings new blood, new vision and new leadership to each chamber. Every legislator can sponsor five bills, guaranteed to have a hearing, regardless of where they are from or what party they belong to.  

The 2018 election produced 19 Democrats out of 35 seats to hold the majority in the state senate and an astounding 41 Democrats out of 65 seats in the House of Representatives.  There were several controversial bills of the legislative session, from energy policy to new gun laws. Despite heated rhetoric of the folks in the minority, at least one Republican lawmaker voted for 441 of 460 bills that passed both houses and headed to Governor Polis.  The Governor vetoed five bills, and signed the other 455.

We only have a few short months of time when elected officials can govern.  We expect senators and representatives to put aside partisanship and do what is in the best interest of the entire state, not just their districts.  Voters should protect the politicians that aren’t afraid to offer controversial topics, to expand our democracy by representing a minority or contrary opinion in those beautifully restored chambers in Denver.  Only through debate, compromise and contrition can we craft the best public policy.

Unfortunately, this April, when Colorado Republicans elected a new leadership team, they decided to go in a totally different direction.  Chairman and Congressman Ken Buck of Weld County, said during his victory speech that “we need to teach Democrats how to spell recall.” 

You would think that being in the minority would encourage Republicans to develop a new strategy that would expand their beleaguered base.  By electing Buck, Republicans have decided that after every general election they lose they can try a second time to pick up certain seats by targeting them in a recall.  

The right to recall an elected official is an important constitutional right that doesn’t exist in every state.  Elected officials that take bribes, trade their votes for money or influence, or commit other crimes while in office should be recalled.  There are emergencies that exist that require the people to remove an elected official and replace them before their term expires.

But with this power comes great responsibility: voters must judge when a recall is little more than a partisan attempt to circumvent the will of the majority and instead allow a minority of voters to replace that elected official.    In November of even numbered years, we see more voter participation and information about candidates. I trust Colorado voters to get the decision right the first time, and hope those that lost would try harder in two years, not in ten months when less than 30 percent of the voters participate in a surprise election.

Think about the cost of designing ballots and verifying signatures that the Colorado Secretary of State must do prior to an election.  Mailing every voter in a state senate district, or even statewide, is an unnecessary expense when our tax dollars could go toward so many more worthwhile projects.

Voters, please do not sign a recall petition.  Every state representative is up for election in 2020, as are 18 of the 35 state senate seats.  We have one more 120 day session as well as months of time to contemplate how this legislature and our new governor have behaved in office.  Colorado has to fund K-12 education, transportation infrastructure, healthcare, PERA and dozens of other pressing issues. Every cent spent pushing unnecessary recall elections is a wasted dollar that could be spent elsewhere in the budget.

The push to recall Governor Polis started as soon as he was sworn in.  What is the rush? Are Colorado Republicans are afraid that 2020 will reveal more losses across the state as Trump heads their ticket? Why should Democrats, or anyone, have to learn how to spell recall? Should we allow a small minority of passionate voters free reign to terrorize our elected officials?

As we move closer toward 2020, I like to think we are at a time and place where we can sit down and solve the problems we face.  I prefer to follow once more the example of Senator Robert Kennedy, who said “what we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another and a feeling of justice  toward those who still suffer within our country.”

Joshua Hursa is the former President of the Denver Metro Young Republicans and a longtime Colorado political activist.  

 

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