Gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton said business is better at solving problems than government, a theme of his campaign for Colorado’s chief executive that he plans to implement if elected in November.
Stapleton, who currently serves as state treasurer, said that if elected, he would work with professionals in the private sector, like those in the energy or medical industry, to shape policy in the state to better benefit Colorado residents.
“I’m thinking more operationally about a problem: Can government provide services better than innovators in the private sector?” Stapleton said Saturday in an interview with The Durango Herald’s editorial board. “There’s no way the government will provide better outcomes.”
Stapleton is running a campaign against Democrat U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, one of the wealthiest members of Congress.
Both men are vying to take over the office from Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is term-limited.
The governor has the power to sign or veto bills passed by the Colorado General Assembly, convene a legislature, appoint members to state boards and commissions and grant pardons.
Here are some of the talking points Stapleton shared with the Herald:
On immigrationStapleton said he would take a law-and-order approach to cities in Colorado that refuse to cooperate with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement – so-called sanctuary cities that formed in the wake of the Trump administration’s actions against people who are living in the U.S. without documentation or citizenship. He said he intends to work with sheriff’s offices across the state to give them money for legal representation if sued over a case that involves working with ICE.
“It’s important that Colorado have a uniform policy to protect people on the front line,” Stapleton said. “There are sheriffs who are facing legal jeopardy.”
While Stapleton said he would protect the lives of law enforcement by encouraging them to work with ICE, it is the rights of individuals that he wants to protect when it comes to free speech and expression. He said this in response to questions about a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple – an issue that made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year.
“I would be someone who fights for the rights of the baker the same way I would defend someone who is gay or transgender,” he said.
On the energy industryThe state needs to “work collaboratively rather than combatively with the energy industry,” he said. He’d like to hold the energy industry accountable for emissions, something he said Colorado has done masterfully in the past few years.
On roadsStapleton said he also supports the “Fix Our Damn Roads” initiative that puts the onus to find funding to fix transportation infrastructure on the government rather than the taxpayer. Transportation funding could come from sports gambling, he said, a source of revenue that the U.S. Supreme Court legalized earlier this year.
On marijuana and hempStapleton believes taxes on medical marijuana should be increased. That money could be used to improve roads, he said. Medical marijuana is not subject to a 15 percent tax that recreational marijuana is. But it is hemp, an industrial form of marijuana with low psychoactive ingredients, that could fix the problems associated with climate change, Stapleton said.
Hemp materials are easily disposed of, and that makes them better for the environment, Stapleton said.
On waterStapleton also wants to create new reservoirs to improve storage for what he called a “finite resource” in water. He said it is a multi-billion dollar proposal to build new reservoirs, and he hopes Colorado will improve its conservation efforts in the private sector, specifically in agriculture.
“We need to move to an action stage, and I think storage and cleaning existing facilities is a way to do it,” Stapleton said.