Grand Junction City Councilman Chris Kennedy announced his run for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District seat on Saturday during a visit to Durango.
Kennedy, a Marine Corps veteran and Democrat, will challenge U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, in the 2018 congressional race.
Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District is predominately rural and includes 29 counties over 54,000 square miles.
“It is fair to say we’ve been let down over the last eight years by the representation we have in Washington,” he told a small crowd gathered at Rotary Park on Saturday afternoon. “The voices from the left and right have been let down because of all the noise in politics.”
Kennedy was elected to the Grand Junction City Council in April 2015, and his term expires in May 2019.
State Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat Springs, also announced her run for the seat in July.
Kennedy slammed Tipton’s lack of action over the past eight years, and accused him of catering to wealthy donors.
“I haven’t seen a policy initiative come from Tipton in eight years,” he said. “He is not a leader, or even a follower, he is there taking up space it seems.”
Last year, Tipton won re-election by about 15 percentage points in a race against former state Sen. Gail Schwartz.
As one of his focuses if elected, Kennedy touted the importance of rural broadband internet access.
“Secure, reliable and affordable broadband is essential,” he said. “We need to invest in what I like to call the electrification of the 21st century. Rural Colorado has its disadvantages, and broadband is the big game-changer.”
He also touched on renewable energy, and stressed the importance of working together to find solutions.
“We need to be pragmatic on finding common ground to move forward with renewable energy,” he said. “I want us all to stand together.”
Kennedy fielded several questions from the audience about health care, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and his campaign.
He gave his support for both the DACA program and single-payer health care.
“I think single-payer health care is where we need to get to,” he said. “A lot of people don’t understand it, but depend on Medicare and do not realize that is government delivered.”
Kennedy said his time as a Marine helped prepare him for his political career.
“I learned how to stand up straight and follow orders,” he said. “Part of following orders is understanding your mission, and trusting your sister to the left and brother to the right. We are here to accomplish the same goal.”