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
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
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
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
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.