Angie Paccione Interview

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Oct 282004
 
Authors: Collegian Staff

Angie Paccione is the incumbent Democrat running for re-election

for the State House of Representatives against Republican candidate

Ed Haynes.

Paccione was born in Bronx, N.Y. She now resides in Fort

Collins. She graduated from Stanford University in 1983 with a

degree in political science. In 1987 she received her teaching

certificate from the University of Denver. In 1998 she received her

Ph.D. from Colorado State University in Education and Human

Resource Studies.

Paccione is currently a Research Associate for the Interwest

Equity Assistance Center at CSU. From 1998 to 2003 she was an

Assistant Professor for the School of Education at CSU. From 1987

to 1995 she was a teacher and Dean of Students at Smoky Hill High

School in Aurora. She was the first woman in Colorado sports

history to coach varsity boy’s high school basketball in the large

school classification. She also played professional basketball from

1983 to 1985.

Q: Election Day is now less than two weeks away. What is the

most important issue you want to address as that day

approaches?

A: I think, especially for CSU, the most important issue we will

have to address, whoever gets elected, is the impact of the state’s

fiscal crisis on institutions of higher education. That is by far

the most important issue. We have to figure out a way to resolve

it. We have a lot of ideas and I’m part of some solutions that have

been proposed by the House Democrats … tuition is going up and

student health insurance has gone up 38 percent. It’s really almost

absurd because what it does is it has the effect of creating a

greater gap between the haves and the have-nots. Because even if

you can get into CSU academically you have to have the (money) to

pay for it and now you have to have, I mean everybody has to have,

health insurance especially at universities. So now you have to pay

for your tuition, your fees, your books, which are exorbitant and

now health insurance, which has gone up tremendously … only four

out of 10 high school graduates in Colorado are going to

college.

Q: How could you help Coloradans receive quality health

care?

A: We have a number of plans we have introduced. First we have

to look at the most vulnerable, children and seniors. So we have to

say what are we doing to make sure that our children are covered?

We had a program called CHIPS. The CHIP plan when I first came to

the General Assembly was capped at 53,000 kids. Today there are

170,000 children who don’t have health insurance. That’s

outrageous. Half of those (170,000) children qualify for CHIPS but

they’re not enrolled in CHIPS. We have to do a better job of

enrolling those kids that are eligible so they have some health

insurance. The plan that I have, that I’m bringing here to CSU as a

matter of fact, is to help CSU students through a service learning

project, work with community-based organizations to do outreach and

eligibility enrollment forums for the kids in our community who are

not yet enrolled … there are a whole number of people who are not

children or seniors but working families. They need to have health

insurance and access to health care. I crossed party aisles to vote

with the Republicans to allow businesses to offer low-cost health

insurance … because I felt like it was better to have some health

insurance than no health insurance. I’m willing to compromise, I’m

willing to cross the aisle and I’m willing to vote for what I think

is right. And what I think is right is to make sure everyone has

access to health care.

Q: How would you help preserve the natural beauty of Colorado

and what are your general environmental policies?

A: I’m a huge environmental supporter … I brought one of the

most pure environmental bills last session. That bill is what we

call the bottle bill. The bottle bill puts a deposit and a refund

on plastic, can and glass beverage containers … Twelve other

states have a bottle bill where you pay five cents more on the

bottled water or a can of Pepsi or whatever but when you bring that

can back you get a nickel back. It’s a refund deposit … The bill

didn’t pass but we’re bringing it back next year. But that’s one

way to reduce the pollution, the litter so that we can keep the

pristine, visual environment. I’m against clear cutting in the

forest. We can do better. I think open space is real important and

we have to preserve those things and protect it. It helps our

tourism industry. People come here because it’s so beautiful. They

don’t want to be hiking and have cans, bottles and trash on the

trail. So this is one way to help with that.

Q: Voter turnout has been low for my demographic, which is 18 to

24. What do you have to say to those people to get them out to

vote?

A: I think this particular election is really critical for young

voters because, especially in this state, of the impact of our

fiscal crisis on your tuition. If your own personal pocketbook or

your parent’s pocketbook doesn’t motivate you to vote for people

whose policies help you. I try to transcend the labels of Democrat

and Republican, you know, I’m half-black, half-white — I try to

transcend labels. What voters have to consider is the policies

supported by the candidates. All of the bills that I have brought

and all the policies that I support help those who are less

fortunate and are working families, people who are trying to make

ends meet. I think that the state has an interest in subsidizing

state tuition.

Q: Is there anything you would like to add?

A: … I am absolutely committed to CSU and helping young kids

get an affordable college education so they can get a head start on

the job market.

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