Victor Mitchell, a Republican candidate for governor, visited Durango on Wednesday – saying a loss of trust in elected officials and state institutions is the driving reason behind his candidacy.
Mitchell, 51, a lifelong entrepreneur, touted an array of disruptive free market-reliant changes to areas now largely driven by government directive: education, health care and the environment.
His ideas stem from a background in private industry – as leader or founder of six different firms, with his current firm, Lead Funding, described by Mitchell as “a disruptive” firm in the residential-lending industry.
“I have two master’s, and I can’t teach in a public school classroom,” Mitchell said of the need for more flexibility in accrediting teachers to deal with a shortage of educators in rural school districts.
He also said teachers’ unions have too much power, and they act as an obstacle to enacting educational reforms that would help in the classroom – reforms such as increasing the pay scale for teachers in math, science, engineering, and technical fields.
“They should be paid more than a social studies teacher,” Mitchell said Wednesday in a meeting with The Durango Herald editorial board.
A governor’s office under Mitchell, he said, would embrace school choice and would work to loosen teacher certification rules and to “weaken the power of teachers’ unions.”
The educational scene today, he said, offers opportunities online and in creative charter and private school models, but they are too often blocked by teachers’ unions.
Free-market solutions would serve well in medical care as well, he said. Some 40 percent of people who have insurance can’t use it, he said, because they can’t afford to pay the deductibles and the co-payments.
Mitchell talked to a Rocky Ford melon farmer who couldn’t afford an MRI, but he was able to find a clinic that could do the same procedure for thousands of dollars less than the price quoted to the farmer through his insurance plan.
“We’ve gotten so bogged down with the debate on insurance, we aren’t looking at care,” he said.
Mitchell would like to block grant funds to providers who would have more freedom in delivering services to drive efficiencies and reduce medical costs.
People need to face a rational medical market in which costs are transparent and patients can shop for better deals, he said.
Mitchell, a resident of Castle Rock, is married to Amy Mitchell and he has three children, Lauren, David and Emily.
He expressed skepticism for subsidies for renewable-energy sources, noting the owner of a Tesla doesn’t pay for road maintenance, but the owner of a F-250 pickup does – a situation he equated to “a regressive tax.”
He said freeing up 1 percent of public lands could lead to the creation of jobs in the oil field.
Colorado has a refinery in Commerce City, but it handles only heavy crude even though the state’s oil is light, sweet crude. Regulatory burdens, he said, have prevented the refinery from overhauling its operation to accommodate the oil drilled in state.