On September 16, Mile High Mamas was a proud co-sponsor of Putting Kids First: A Gubernatorial Forum. In addition to important people in attendance (y’know, like Colorado’s future governor), some of Denver’s most well-respected and politically-savvy mommy bloggers were there.
Both candidates had their own style and strengths. Possibly my favorite anecdote during the forum was when Mayor Hickenlooper shared that he recently walked into his home bathroom and saw “Poop. Pee. Fast” scrawled on the mirror. Obviously curious about its meaning, he queried his son who replied, “I just got back from the library and they told me I could only keep all my books for three weeks. That’s just not enough time so I wrote a reminder to “Poop and pee fast.”
Ever the wise dad, Hickenlooper divulged he could multi-task and actually read while he was on the toilet.
Father of three Dan Maes spent 15 minutes following the event charming and answering our mom bloggers’ questions, navigating them all like a pro.
Pictured: Chris Bird, Fiona Bryan, Michelle, Melissa Caddell, Republican candidate Dan Maes, Amber Johnson, Dana Stone, Lori Luz and Rebecca
Following the forum, I asked a few of the bloggers to share their insights on which candidate will put kids first.
Lori of Weebles Woblog, one of Parenting magazine’s top 10 must-read moms of 2010. Consummate overachiever:
Once upon a time I spent my Friday afternoons drinking mead at Mayor John Hickenlooper’s brewery. “Hick,” the Democratic candidate, has been a likeable figure around Denver for decades, a known quantity. Yet I found his responses on issues like education, taxes and health care, to be big on the Whats but scant on the Hows.
We can raise revenue by becoming more welcoming to business, while protecting the environment. Yes, it’s a trade-off, so how would he make it? Full-day kindergarten is a given when the state can afford it (what if parents don’t want to start their kids in school full-time at age 5?). But if and when the state CAN afford it, what other programs will NOT be funded in lieu of full-day kindergarten?
Republican candidate Dan Maes, also a businessman, is a relative newcomer to politics. He came off less polished and less fluent in politico-speak, which is not wholly a bad thing. He values school choice, vouchers in some form, and promises to protect charter and homeschooling. While there should be a safety net for the truly needy, the state should not, as a general rule, fund full-day kindergarten.
Maes was asked how he’d balance the state budget. He says that in four years, Colorado has gone from #4 to #48 in energy production. We can raise state revenue without raising taxes if we refocus on being an energy economy.
Maes is both a fiscal and social conservative, which is only half good for Libertarian-leaners. Democrats tend to protect social freedoms while usurping economic freedom, and Republicans tend to protect economic freedom but want to have a say in people’s personal freedoms.
It’s worth having a dialog about core values.
Former Congressman Tom Tancredo, as the American Constitution Party candidate, had confirmed his participation in the forum but reportedly attended a fundraiser instead.
Chris Bird of Mama Birds Blog, social media manager and passionate patriot. Directionally-challenged pilot’s wife:
The candidates couldn’t be further apart when it comes to how to strengthen early childhood development. Maes believes in school choice across the board (homeschooling, charter schools, school vouchers) including on the question of making full-day Kindergarten mandatory. He believes it should be up to parents to decide what’s best for their family and that by cutting taxes, we can alleviate much of the burden on parents to both work, giving them more time with their children rather than conferring responsibility to our schools and ultimately taxpayers. Hickenlooper, on the other hand believes full-day Kindergarten is “a given.” In addition, he believes in expanding the school lunch program to include more kids, though it’s hard to imagine how either of Hickenlooper’s proposals would be paid for simply by re-allocating funds and without raising taxes.
Maes believes chasing federal funds through “Race to the Top” is a complete waste of time for Colorado and that we should focus on growing our economy to support K-12 education. Hickenlooper says we deserved “Race to the Top” funding, but we don’t stop there – we will replace that money.
While Maes and Hickenlooper were in agreement on most fiscal policy issues, such as the need to continue drilling for oil to keep energy costs down while exploring alternatives at the same time, reducing the size of government, creating a pro-business environment and no new taxes, Maes went a step further emphasizing tax cuts as the way to strengthen Colorado’s economy and better support healthcare and early childhood development. He believes that by building a stronger tax base, jobs will be created and Colorado’s economy will grow to support existing programs. Hickenlooper’s plan is to “prioritize” programs, increasing funding to the ones that are working and cutting funding to those that aren’t. He also wants to “leverage” current private and public partnerships to support those programs.
On healthcare, Maes supports the Attorney General’s decision to sue the Federal government over Obamacare and supports Amendment 63. Hickenlooper believes we can make Obamacare work for Colorado but didn’t give specifics on how Colorado would be able to afford it. As to the role our schools play in children’s health, with childhood obesity on the rise, Maes believes the school’s role is secondary to that of parents and that control of those issues should be at a local schoolboard level where parents can be involved. Hickenlooper wants more school involvement including having schools “train” our kids on how to stay fit for the rest of their lives.
Dana Stone, PR pro and philosophical debater. Frequenter of front row in pictures due to small size but is tall in spirit:
2. Leaner gov’t with cutting taxes
3. Strong business support
1. Mandating full-day kindergarten in public schools is not a priority.
2. Supports free choice with education, e.g. home school, charter, private, etc.
1. Opposes Obama’s healthcare bill, believes in having more competition for better rates.
2. Don’t regulate vending machines outside of schools, but should be heavily regulated in schools.
3. Bring back mandates for physical activity in schools.
4. Supports the
Fiscal health of Colorado:
1. Believes in reversing property tax.
2. Believes in reducing the executive branch to reduce gov’t workforce.
3. We can reduce taxes, believe it or not by reducing frivolous spending.
4. Quit chasing federal funds to build our revenue; find it within state.
1. Protect our Rockies (environmental protection)
2. Make gov’t smaller and more efficient
3. Promote good business practices
1. Get pen and pencils into children’s hands sooner than later; data shows 12% ROI when states do so.
2. Believes in full-day kindergarten, but emphasized the importance of prioritizing needs of those poverty-stricken children.
3. Race to the Top: We didn’t win federally, but it doesn’t mean we won’t keep fighting for better education in our state.
4. Need to leverage current private/public partnerships to build child education to save our budget.
1. Again, it’s important to prioritize and get healthcare to those in most need, especially children.
2. Colorado is the right size to figure out how to fix our healthcare crisis. Solutions include making all health data available electronically.
3. Train kids to go to the gym like we do. Studies show aerobics helps children focus more and engage in schooling.
Fiscal health of Colorado:
1. Focus on prioritizing needs; can’t fix everything especially in our budget crisis.
2. Focus on helping Coloradans in the most need – what’s best for the most number of kids in the state.
3. No appetite to raise taxes so that most likely won’t happen.
4. Create better business, e.g. penalize those companies that negatively affect the state like an oil spill.
A special thanks to our co-sponsors: The Children’s Hospital, the Colorado Children’s Campaign and EPIC (Executives Partnering to Invest in Children). Colorado is fortunate to have these fantastic organizations leading the charge to put kids first.