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Mayor candidates discuss early childhood education

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A Mayoral Candidate Forum was held March 22 with nine of the 10 candidates  for Denver Mayor to discuss early childhood care and education.

The forum was hosted by Clayton Early Learning Center in Denver and Anne Trujillo of Channel 7 was the moderator.

The candidates were asked three questions which they had received earlier to prepare. They each had two minutes to answer and a one-minute closing statement.

Condensed versions of the three questions are:

  1. State and local funds for early childhood development are crucial but are dwindling. How do you plan to reframe the focus of the use of public funds for prenatal through age 5?
  2. How would you support greater collaboration of public schools, Head Start programs and private childcare and preschools?
  3. Colorado has the second fastest growing rate of obesity, what will you do to support a healthier future?

What moms need to know:

Carol Boigon spoke about how obesity may be one problem, but so are asthma and dental health. Boigon wants to encourage exercise but also said we need to manage children’s asthma and the big problem is dental health “which I don’t have a fixed answer for but I will push until I find one.”

As mother and teacher, she said she will fight for a children’s agenda

Michael Hancock plans to employ a manager of children’s affairs.

“It’s time for all of us to get together because no one can do it on their own. Parents must be on board to work with their children.” Hancock said.

Hancock said making sure a child has access to healthy food and healthcare is key. He said we need to bring providers together and we need to understand that kids are going home to domestic violence or going home hungry. We need to provide social services to our children.

Doug Linkhart (pictured right) started with saying “I am a councilman at large I specialize in finding money for good causes and this is my favorite cause.”  

He helped form the Colorado Childcare Commission and the Child Care tax credit and a family stabilizations fund. He said money makes a difference and that there is no better investment than investing in kids.

As far as the obesity issue, Linkhart wants to bring Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program to Denver as well as create free access to recreation centers, safe routs to schools and recycling.

Danny F. Lopez said that keeping kids involved in programs is key.

“I want to make sure programs are well kept and expanded and that these kids have rec centers to go to and youth sports programs that are affordable.” He said.

Lopez said he wants to make sure parents are involved in their children’s well being. He also emphasized multiple times that he is a common working man. He believes the next mayor should not be sold to the highest bidder.

James Mejia is the founding CEO of the Denver Preschool Program. “Extra money [would] allow us to provide a longer day for more children and a summer program for all children, [as well as] a parental training component.” He said.

Mejia wants kids in junior high and high school to suggest meals and take part in making them. He also believes we have lost a lot of our parks. We need to create more park space for kids to play. He is also an advocate for health clinics in schools because some families rely on these clinics for their children.

Jeff Peckman is all about his research and solutions.

“If you scan all of the available solutions there has been a lack of vision and open-mindedness … ” Peckman said. “Things can be done in a less costly way … often the legislature and lawmakers don’t respond to things people are complaining about, they are reactive not proactive in identifying what works. “

Peckman is advocating for more gardens in the city and wants to bring in technology for better air quality in schools.

Chris Romer said the mayor has to take the lead in these issues.  Key issues are early literacy and healthy and happy children.  “We need children with appropriate nutrition. “ Romer said.

Romer spoke about type II diabetes and how it affects kids. He wants to create a friendly and safe city where kids can play outside “We need kids back on bicycles,” He said,

Theresa Spahn said we must be advocates for our children and we cannot allow budget cuts. 

“My office will be committed to children,” Spahn said. “Throughout my career I have been dedicated to children and one of the most critical pieces for children to be successful is with early childhood education.”

Spanh wants cooking classes geared towards kids and teens to learn healthy eating. She wants kids to have access to healthy lunches while at school and addressed bad eating habits at home.  She also wants to work on the fact that it takes six months to get food stamps.

 Thomas Wolf was the only active business person and political outsider. He admitted to flubbing his first question claiming that he tried to talk about too many ideas in two minutes.

 “There are health, social and education issues,” Wolf said. “We need to get healthcare benefits to keep good teachers.  These types of business solutions will help.”

The business man wants to focus on supply and demand issues within grocery stores and is playing with the idea of allowing alcohol to be sold in stores.

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  • comment avatar Amber Johnson March 23, 2011

    What a great summary of important issues!!!

  • comment avatar Jaime March 24, 2011

    Good to hear that children are on the radar and many great issues being looked at.

  • comment avatar barbara mcdonnell March 24, 2011

    Clear and concise reporting by Dacia. All high schools should have a mandatory Early Childhood Education class. Whether you are a parent, aunt, uncle or friend of a family, you could have a great empact on children by knowing what they need.

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