Political newcomer James Iacino, a Democrat, has joined the race to unseat Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., in the 3rd Congressional District in 2020.
With his family immigrating to Colorado 117 years ago, Iacino said he has “deep Colorado roots and deep Colorado ties” in an interview this week with The Durango Herald. As former CEO of Seattle Fish Co., based in Colorado for 101 years, Iacino has traveled throughout the entire 3rd Congressional District, and through speaking with restaurants, grocers and customers, he said the issues facing the district are “not being adequately represented in Congress.”
Iacino recently moved from Denver to Montrose, a city in the 3rd Congressional District, where he has had an office for six years.
“They’ve expressed to me that they haven’t been able to get ahead and a lot of that can be solved with better representation,” Iacino said. “My wife and I have talked for years about moving to the Western Slope, so I think this was an opportunity to move there and be with more people in the district and offer them a better solution.”
Iacino noted three key issues he intends to address should he serve as representative: economic mobility, affordable health care and preservation of public lands.
“I would focus on providing access to jobs that are good paying that can help raise wages and build the middle class,” Iacino said. “There needs to be opportunities for people to succeed when the median income in the district is significantly less than the rest of the state, and a lot of people are having to work two to three jobs just to survive.”
Improving job creation goes along with preserving public lands, Iacino said, because the outdoor recreation industry helps “diversify our economy and grow jobs.”
“From a sustainability perspective, preserving our water and preserving our lands for future generations is something that I’ve been passionate about,” Iacino said. “I know that there are a lot of concerns with what’s going to happen with our public lands and how Colorado is going to be as beautiful as it is now, a hundred years from now.”
Along with improving job creation and sustainability, Iacino said a number of people in the district and throughout the state do not have access to “good, quality affordable health care,” which is another issue he will prioritize should he win a House seat.
Before squaring off against Tipton, Iacino must win the primary election against Democratic challengers Diane Mitsch Bush, Root Routledge and Donald Valdez.
And should he win the primary, Iacino does not expect the general election to be an easy race, given that Tipton has held the seat for 10 years. However, Iacino believes he can provide the leadership that the district lacks from Tipton.
“I think that a lot of the problems in D.C. today are that representatives are not paying attention to what matters most to the people they represent and are caught up in the drama in Washington,” Iacino said. “He (Tipton) is leaving Colorado behind and is not doing anything about issues important to his constituents.”
Despite the difficulty he will face to unseat Tipton, Iacino said through his experience as a businessman and with the moderate message he brings, he will have a “great shot at winning this seat.”
“There’s no doubt that today in politics, nothing is a given and nothing is assured,” Iacino said. “It’s going to be a difficult race, but we’re going to get out there, talk about the issues, meet with the people and get our message out. That’s how we’re going to win.”
Ayelet Sheffey is a student at American University in Washington, D.C., and an intern for The Durango Herald.