Ken Salazar Interview

Oct 192004
Authors: Brian Park

Ken Salazar is the Democratic candidate running for the Colorado

seat in the U.S. Senate.

Salazar was born in the San Luis Valley in Colorado and now

resides in Denver. He graduated from Colorado College in Colorado

Springs in 1997 and received a law degree in 1981 from the

University of Michigan.

Salazar is currently the attorney general for Colorado. From

1990 to 1994, he served as the executive director of the Colorado

Department of National Resources. From 1987 to 1990, he was chief

legal counsel to former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer.

Q: You have been the executive director of the Department of

Natural Resources in Colorado and now you are the attorney general.

How do you think this experience will help you become a better


A: I think I know the people of Colorado and the challenges they

face pretty well. I know every single county and community in

Colorado and I’ve worked on their issues and I think that gives me

the kind of experience that money can’t buy.

Q: What do you think of your opponent Pete Coors being a

political novice?

A: I think that the problems we face in America and the world

today require leadership and the ability to be able to work with

people across party lines to develop solutions to the major issues

of our time. I think I have a proven ability to do that. I think in

contrast, Pete Coors has been a partisan and doesn’t have the

experience of developing effective solutions for people.

Q: What do you think will be the biggest obstacle we’ll have to

face to win the war on terror?

A: I think the major obstacle we face in dealing with the

challenge effectively is making sure it’s a global responsibility

for the problem because we know there are cells of al-Qaida in

numerous countries around the world and we know that there are more

dangerous terrorist organizations other than al-Qaida in a number

of countries around the world, so we need to have the world

community involved with us if we address that issue.

Q: What will you do to create jobs and economic opportunity in

Colorado and throughout the United States?

We have an economic plan that will take us out of the doldrums

we have been in over the last several years. It includes the

provision of tax credits to companies that create jobs here in

America. It includes a package of proposals to help communities in

the rural parts of America have an opportunity to develop

economically and we also address the struggles of small businesses

by providing a set of tax incentives for them to be able to provide

health care.

Q: Budget cuts (at CSU) are occurring and tuition is increasing

and what will you, if elected, do to help higher education?

A: First I think the over 30 percent increase in tuition costs

over the last years is closing the window of educational

opportunity for young people across America who want to pursue

higher education. We need to have loan programs for young people

who want to go into higher education and I favor an increase in the

amount that would be provided onto those programs for people going

into higher education.

Q: On your Web site you say “Washington has not kept its end of

the bargain and has shortchanged our schools by billions of

dollars.” What do you think Washington has done wrong and how will

you change that?

A: I think in general what we have seen in Washington is a

charade coming out of Washington addressing the problems of the

American people and that includes addressing the issue of

education. No Child Left Behind was supposed to be a great program

to help create after-school programs, provide incentives for

recruiting and retaining teachers for the classrooms especially in

the classrooms that are more difficult and yet the money that was

supposed to come with NCLB did not come with it. And as a result

people like Sen. Jim Jeffords who was a Republican and author of

NCLB, who became an independent, have called it an empty promise to

America’s children. What we’re seeing out of Washington isn’t

straight talk to the American people.

Q: The environment has become a big issue in this campaign, with

the Summitville gold mine incident receiving a lot of press. Since

the environment pushed into the forefront how would you preserve

the natural beauty of Colorado and what are your general

environmental policies?

A: I think I have an environmental record for Colorado that is

second to nobody’s. I created the Great Outdoors Colorado Program.

I reformed the mining, oil and gas laws of the state. I created the

first environmental crimes unit. I’ve made sure even the federal

government is accountable for its pollution that it creates here in

Colorado. So I have a very strong environmental record and I think

that’s why I’ve been endorsed the League of Conservation Voters and

every organization that cares about the preservation of our whole

planet. I think the environment ought to be an issue people are

concerned about and I have specific suggestions of what we ought to

do at the federal level including the funding of the Land and Water

Conservation Fund because it’s very similar with what we did here

with Great Outdoors Colorado, protection of our public lands and

making sure we don’t weaken the environmental laws of our


Q: Recently sustainable living and sustainable energy have come

up as things to use to help the environment. Do you have anything

regarding this in your platform?

A: Yes indeed. I think embracing renewable energy and higher

fuel efficiency is an imperative for the country. First, for

purposes of national security we have become over-dependent on

foreign oil and we need to find ways to diminish that

over-dependence. Secondly, renewable energy is good for the

environment and third, renewable energy also provides economic

opportunity to rural parts of Colorado that otherwise would not be


Q: 720,000 Coloradans last year went without health insurance.

What would you do for those people? What can you do to improve our

current health care system?

A: We would do a number of things. First, we have a proposal

that would cover many more Coloradans and Americans with health

insurance. It includes the creation of a 50 percent tax credit for

small businesses that would provide health insurance to their

employees. Fifty-two percent of the people who don’t have health

insurance are people who work at small businesses. Secondly, we

would provide a tax credit to keep health insurance for people who

are between jobs so that they are able to have their health

insurance stay with them for up to 18 months. Third, we propose

that all the children of America be covered with health insurance

that would include the Children’s Health Insurance Programs,

extending the CHIP program to higher eligibility levels so we would

be able to cover all the kids of America. Fourth, we believe we

should be controlling the rising costs of health care by bringing

down the cost of prescription drugs and by allowing the federal

programs like Medicaid to be able to negotiate with prescription

drug companies. I think that the crushing burden of health care

requires us to do major work and to take the leadership to the

national level to address the problem immediately.

Q: On your Web site it says you believe marriage to be between

one man and one woman and that you oppose the federal marriage

amendment. Do you think that issue should be left to the


A: I don’t think the Constitution of the United States should be

the place where these issues are decided. I think it is a very

divisive issue…

Q: There has been mudslinging and negativity so far in the

campaign. What do you have to say about all that?

A: This is my 30th election statewide. I have never run a

negative campaign. I pledge to run a positive campaign and

challenge Pete Coors to do the same. There were allies of his who

came in and already dumped close to $1 million to run negative ads

against me and I think that’s not the right the way to engage

people of the state of Colorado to greater confidence in our

institutions of democracy. On the other hand, I am also not going

to leave myself defenseless and I will attack back and protect

myself when I get attacked.

Q: What is your position on gun control?

A: I support the Second Amendment. I don’t believe in gun

registration. I believe those of us who use guns for

self-protection and hunting should have a right to use guns in that

way. I also believe there are some weapons, like machine guns,

which have been banned since the 1930s, that they should be banned

and I also believe we should have the kind of background checks

that we have in Colorado to keep guns away of felons and other

people who should not have them.

Q: Moving to the issue of Iraq, what are your thoughts on the

problems our country is facing there as well as the new Iraqi


A: I think we need to engage in helping us bring stability to

Iraq and I think that we need to do that in order not to leave a

broken and battered country behind us that becomes a breeding

ground for terrorism in our world.

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