COLORADO SPRINGS – Governor-elect Jared Polis visited the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind in Colorado Springs Wednesday in his first official visit to the city since the election. The Boulder democratic said he is aware he will be taking office with his party in full control of state government but plans to do his best to represent all Coloradoans regardless of their preferred candidate.
“I know that El Paso and Pueblo and the rest of Southern Colorado’s priorities will be well represented in the next state legislature and we really look forward to making sure that we really have a statewide vision for success,” he said.
Mr. Polis plans to make his education and healthcare policies a priority in the upcoming legislative session. Polis pointed out that the school already offers full-day kindergarten and half-day preschool. He wants to expand early childhood education statewide by helping school districts offer free full-day kindergarten and preschool. The initiative would be state funded, students would be counted in local school districts enrollment to receive per-pupil funding.
“The state can’t afford to not do it,” Polis said. “States like Oklahoma have free preschool and kindergarten and if Oklahoma can do it, we can do it here in Colorado.”
The Governor-elect took time to speak individually with students and staff during his visit. While the tour was largely informational, some students had some challenging questions for the next governor. One explained that he loves to hunt and questioned Polis about whether large capacity magazines were illegal in Colorado.
“I don’t see the point of those being illegal because when you’re target shooting, like competitions and all that crap, you shouldn’t have to frickin [SIC] stop to reload your clip,” the boy said.
Polis responded by explaining that state law prohibits the sale of new high-capacity magazines. However, it is not illegal for people who already own the magazines to keep them.
He didn’t shy away from tough questions from reporters either. For example, he was asked about his campaign promise for universal healthcare.
“There are good ideas on the left and the right,” Polis said. “Now is the time for ideas, it’s not so much about ideology as it is about thinking big, because we all know we are getting ripped off on healthcare costs. There’s no reason Americans should be spending 5 to 8 times as much for the exact same prescription drug.”
As the first openly gay man elected as a Governor, Mr. Polis became known nationwide on election night. He said he would prefer that his success be an inspiration to others.
“Just like I was able to tell a young girl here earlier today that, yes, a deaf person can become governor or president, and yes a gay person can be governor too,” Polis said. “It doesn’t really make a difference. What matters are your ideas and what you have to give in your heart.”
When asked about his partner Marlon Reis, Mr. Polis said that he would prefer the title of “First Gentleman.”
Polis will formally take Office on January 7th.