ALAMOSA — Saying he plans on being one of the frontrunners when the field narrows in the governor’s race in coming months, Republican candidate and businessman Doug Robinson met with local residents in Alamosa on Friday afternoon.
He said he believes his background and skills could benefit Colorado. He has a strong business background, having owned his own firm and helped others succeed as well. He said Colorado needs entrepreneurs, access to capital and trained work forces.
Robinson said some of the most successful governors have come from the business sector, such as the governors in Arizona, North Dakota, Florida and Michigan. People coming from outside the system can sometimes make a difference within it, he said.
“My background is in business,” he said. He added that he believed the skills he used to be successful in business would help him lead Colorado towards success.
Robinson described himself as a conservative business and community leader who has been involved in the Republican Party since he was old enough to vote, with his first vote cast in 1980 for Ronald Reagan.
A resident of Colorado for 22 years, Robinson lives just south of Denver in Arapahoe County. He and his wife have five children and a daughter-in-law. One of the reasons he said he believed he could run for this office at this time is because most of his children are grown.
“We love Colorado,” he said. Although he and his wife met in New York City, they both had Colorado roots and were glad to get back to the state when they had the opportunity.
“Colorado is an amazing place. I think it’s the best place in the country to live,” he said. “I have been frustrated over the last several years. I see us going more towards California and less towards the Colorado that I love.”
He said that was a big reason for his joining this race.
“The governor’s race, state house and senate in 2018 will determine in large measure where Colorado goes over the next decade or so,” Robinson said. He added that he was concerned that Colorado’s politics might become too much like California in the future if the state’s direction did not change.
Education is another priority for Robinson. “We’ve got to do something for our kids in Colorado,” he said. He said while Colorado has the second-highest educated population in the country, next to Massachusetts, its educational system is mediocre.
“We are good at recruiting educated people to come and move here,” he said, “but we are not so good with our own.”
Youth need to learn technical skills through emphasis on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math), he said. He began a nonprofit in the Denver area, for example, that focuses on providing technological education in the classroom. Many of the students have been disadvantaged youth who now have technology skills and the ability to get good jobs.
Robinson added, “I think we have been doing a disservice by the mantra ‘college is for everyone.’ College is not for everyone. College is for a lot of kids … but a lot of kids would be better served by a robust technical career training to get into jobs where they can make $40,000, 50,000, 60,000 a year to raise their families.”
He added, “I am a big fan of apprenticeship programs, private/public sector. We need more of that.”
Robinson and those meeting with him on Friday also addressed Colorado’s addiction problem, which includes alcohol, hard drugs, marijuana and opioids, he said.
Colorado is “number one” in the country for substance use of residents aged 12 and up.
“We have a problem with addiction, and it’s across the board.”
He said schools used to have programs like DARE, but many schools have no drug education at all now. He said there are successful programs such as a campaign that encouraged youth to pursue natural highs in the outdoors. Some of those efforts do not take a lot of money. “It was about education and messaging.”
Residents spoke with Robinson about their concerns over illegal marijuana growing in the San Luis Valley, particularly in the Saguache area.
State Senator Larry Crowder was present and talked about challenges and opportunities in Colorado, such as the potential for hemp as a crop here. Crowder added that Colorado needs a governor who sees the state in its entirety, not just the metro area.
Robinson agreed. In terms of water, for example, he said the state needs a long-term strategy.
The state needs long-term strategies for other areas as well, such as broadband, education and infrastructure needs. He said Colorado has not had major road projects for more than a decade.
“To me, it’s priorities,” he said.
Robinson said there are many things going well in Colorado but there are also challenges that need to be faced.
Learn more about Robinson at dougforcolorado.com.