Oct 032010
Authors: Andrew Carrera

The next time you are taking a test for a class in which you are behind on reading, try convincing your professor of the irrelevancy of their life’s work.

“Freshman year, I was so far behind in my studying that in a moment of frustration and lunacy, I tried to convince my brilliant professors that the challenges of the nuclear age were so unique as to render the study of history irrelevant,” said John Hickenlooper, during a 2010 commencement address at Wesleyan University, his alma mater.

The 58-year-old Nabbeth, Pennsylvania native was raised by a single mother who was widowed twice during his youth. Much of the liberal ideology he carries as the Democratic pick for Colorado governor, he says, was shaped in these early years.

After opening the Wynkoop Brewing Co. and a chain of restaurants in lower Downtown Denver, Hickenlooper ran for the position of mayor, despite not having any political experience. In 2007, he was reelected at a popularity rate of 86 percent.

As Denver’s current mayor, Hickenlooper holds the issue of education as a top priority on his political agenda. On Aug. 6 he announced Joe Garcia, president of CSU-Pueblo, as his Lt. governor pick.

“If there is any question about whether higher education is a priority for John, Joe Garcia is the answer,” said George Merritt, Hickenlooper for Colorado spokesman.

He also supports a stipend for preschoolers under the mantra that everyone deserves an equal start, but at the same time would allow state universities to raise tuition. In addition, Hickenlooper agrees with Colorado Commission on Higher Education’s state school funding plan for fiscal year 2011 –– a plan opposed by Mesa State and Metro State community colleges.

“Higher education must continue to be affordable, accessible and of high quality to the people of Colorado,” Merritt said.

When it comes to the matter of drugs, Hickenlooper delivers a varying message.

At a time when the debate over the legalization of marijuana in the Colorado legislature reached a boiling point, he released a letter on August of 2006 that read in part, “Like a cancer, proponents for legalization eat away at society.”

But then he openly supported the acceptance of medical marijuana in later years.

In April of 2005 Time magazine named him one of the nation’s “top five big city mayors.”

Republican opposition frequently mentions job loss in Denver as a major reason to not vote for Hickenlooper, pointing to elements of Frontier Airlines moving out of state and producing jobs elsewhere. Advertisements have dubbed the candidate “No Jobs John.”

“We have to turn the economy around,” Hickenlooper said in a press release when asked about Colorado’s difficult budget. “Nowhere is there an appetite to raise taxes, so we have to help businesses grow.”

Staff writer Andrew Carrera can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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