It’s time to Kickstart Colorado Politics

And fight for the dream called America. "Politics as usual" has left us with a deep mistrust in our government. I served my country as a fighter pilot over the skies of Iraq and now I'm called to serve again, this time for the people of Colorado.

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Mark's Story

MARK'S STORY

INTROVISIONPERSONALEDUCATIONAIR FORCEEXPERIENCEPOLITICAL
I’m not a career politician – I’m a public servant and a patriot.

Americans are suffering.  People are falling behind and there are systematic efforts underway to deny people their basic rights. Economically, socially, and politically, our nation is fraying at the edges.

Changing this begins by speaking the truth about our country – both parties own the problem.  Although a bankrupt Republican Party has led the way into chaos, Democrats must acknowledge that they also voted for 17 years of war, for trade agreements that protect corporations before people, and for unleashing the wolves of Wall Street.

Policies like these have left ordinary Americans like you and me in a tough place; they’ve divided our country and threatened our rights and liberties.  Meanwhile, the 1% enjoys growing wealth and prosperity. Like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and others, I believe it’s time for Democrats to break from the politics of the past and once again fight for the dreams of ordinary Americans.

The politics of the privileged must give way to the politics of the people, a grassroots movement that recognizes the pain and struggles of working Americans and fights for fairness, a level playing field and equal opportunity for all.  This means:

  • People before profits
  • Progress over lobbyists and special interests

That’s why I’m an independent Democrat, a Democrat that doesn’t dance to the tune of established power.  I’ll fight for you and a level playing field so all of us can thrive and prosper.  I won’t ever take money from corporate PACs, special interests or lobbyists and I won’t spend hours dialing for dollars in Congress when I could spend that time at home, listening and working for you.

The future of our country, Colorado, and the 2nd Congressional District is bright if we break from the politics and policies of the past and elect leaders with real and equitable vision for the future.  Join me.

I’ll represent you in Washington DC with an independent spirit that fights for the people and the values of this District.  I’ll also make common cause with like-minded Representatives to push for real change in Washington.  Most importantly, in the battles to come I’ll have the courage to vote for We the People over power and party.

But I’ll do more than represent you in DC – I will lead locally as well.  Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District is a special place and I bring a special vision to cultivate the positive future that our District represents.

Why is our purple District so special and unique?

  • Nationally Recognized and Acclaimed Cities and Towns - Boulder and Ft. Collins for starters
  • Diverse – Urban, Rural and Mountain areas and economies
  • Science, Tech, Education including two first-rate universities: CSU and CU
  • History – A spirit of Exploration, Innovation and Enterprise
  • Creativity and Healthy Lifestyles

As an F-15 pilot in Desert Storm and an entrepreneur, I’ve lived at the pointy end of the spear. So when it comes to thought leadership and innovation, I bring skills around identifying and nurturing visionary ideas, gathering stakeholders, creating consensus, defining the path forward and then executing on that.

I’ll be “Leading by convening”: In our purple state and district, we’re uniquely positioned to develop and test grassroots initiatives that re-knit the body politic within and across urban, rural or mountain communities.  By bringing together the best minds in science, business, startups and public administration, combining that with the creativity and rigor of our community, and funding this collaboration with innovative public/private partnerships, we can create a think-tank and testbed for a new and modernized vision of democratic governance.  Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District can be the incubator for a generational change in politics and policy across America.

Our District can lead the way in creating a national political consensus that embraces – rather than rejects – our rapidly changing future.  Through bottom-up coalition building and fundraising, we’ll create the institutional infrastructure that leads America out of the political Dark Ages.  In the process, we’ll activate and sustain grassroots organizations so citizens regain their voice, a real stake in the system, and a renewed Democratic Party rooted in their values.

My family instilled certain core values in me as I was growing up: hard work, excellence, dedication and loyalty.  These values have guided me through my life as a father, husband, Air Force officer, and entrepreneur.  I’ll bring no less to you in my service as your Congressman.

I grew up mostly in Latin America, the son of an Air Force diplomat.  My mother is an immigrant who knows first-hand the journey to America.  Growing up south of the border, I saw countries with huge gulfs between rich and poor and I knew, even as a boy, that this was very different from America – the land of opportunity – that I’d grown to love.

I’m deeply connected to the people and values of Colorado's 2nd Congressional District.  I’ve lived here for over 20 years with my wife, raising two daughters, hiking trails, working in business and startups, teaching at CU Boulder and taking a leadership role in teaching law enforcement, first responders and others to be mentally prepared for the tough work they do every day.  I know how to tackle difficult problems and develop consensus so that progress is achieved, not compromised.  And my roots in the people and environment of this community mean I’ll be a dedicated force for good in the halls of Congress.

I graduated from the College of William and Mary as a Rhodes Scholar nominee with a Bachelor of Arts, Economics. My focus was Political Economy – how economics and politics converge in the struggle for power.   After growing up mostly in Latin America, this approach was compelling to me.   Political Economy laid-bare how the powerful and moneyed interests in Washington were attacking the citizen protections of the New Deal and Great Society safety net through the now disproven theories of the Laffer Curve and supply-side economics, aka Reaganomics. 30 years later, with a hangover from neoliberal economics and the gross redistribution of America’s wealth to the 1%, it's painful to see that Political Economists had it right.

In the early 90s, after serving in the United States Air Force and flying for American Airlines, I moved to Boulder to attend Naropa University.  Since my late teens, I’d practiced Karate, Aikido, Aiki Jiu Jitsu and other martial arts and by 1994 I was driven to learn more about the meditation and mind training that was so integral to these martial traditions.  I graduated with an MA in Buddhist Studies and a deep understanding of contemplative religious traditions.  These studies became the foundation of the company I later founded, Dynamic Human Solutions.

Without question, the pinnacle of my USAF career was Desert Storm.  I flew the F-15C with an elite group, the members of the 58th Tactical Fighter Squadron, the most decorated air-to-air combat unit of the war. I had over 200 combat hours during the Gulf War and experienced, close-up, how a superbly trained unit gets the mission done.

Early in my career I served as Forward Air Controller (OV-10) and Air Liaison Officer with the U.S. Army’s 25th and the 2nd Infantry Divisions, forces focused on defending and protecting the Korean peninsula.  I never thought that 30 years later I’d be considering the same problem, only now with the specter of nuclear weapons thrown in.

I left the active duty Air Force in ’92 and joined the Air Force Reserve as an intelligence officer. I served in Guam and at Headquarters, Pacific Air Forces (HQ PACAF) in Hawaii, as an Asian affairs specialist responsible for analysis of national defense issues in the Pacific.  My fighter background led to being selected for the elite Asian Tactics Analysis Team, the group responsible for analyzing and evaluating air combat tactics throughout the Asian theater.  Command experience came to me at HQ PACAF when I was chosen to serve as interim Operations Officer of the Air Intelligence Squadron, the unit supporting and reporting directly to the Commander in Chief, Pacific Air Forces.

Here at home, I served as an expert intelligence advisor to the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security in the fight against drug trafficking and human smuggling.  My final assignment before retiring was as Assistant Professor of Aerospace Studies with the Air Force ROTC Detachment at CU Boulder, where I mentored cadets and taught strategy and international relations to future Air Force officers.

After the birth of my eldest, I entered the tech-startup world full time and began a career as an entrepreneur.  I’ve developed a variety of startups since then in healthcare, big data, and streaming video.

I founded Dynamic Human Solutions (DHS), where training programs combined the meditation skills I learned at Naropa with the high-performance mindset of flying fighter jets. Our group was on the leading-edge of the “mindfulness” revolution. We trained a variety of professionals in the skills of mental toughness, emotional intelligence and peak performance: entrepreneurs, fighter pilots, special operators, business people, SWAT Teams, helicopter pilots, Olympic and other world-class athletes, to name just a few.

Over the years, I’ve had the chance to help those who are first in the line of danger here in Colorado's 2nd Congressional District – law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMTs. Through meditation-based training, DHS has helped first responders maintain their mental toughness and develop the resiliency to recover after facing the high-intensity situations they experience every day.

I’m running as a Democrat because I believe in the Party that spearheaded progressive policies in the 20th century.  From FDR to JFK and LBJ, Democrats made our nation safer and stronger.   But, this isn’t just about Democrats and Republicans.  Today, a consensus exists to move America forward again, but it exists outside once-familiar party lines.

Unaffiliated voters now comprise Colorado’s largest voting bloc. I promise to represent the interests of people over Party. I’ll listen to these voices and every community in Colorado's 2nd Congressional District will be stronger for it.   I hope to represent all Coloradans by activating the grassroots and kickstarting Lincoln’s vision of America: “…a government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Some say the grand experiment of America – a nation where individuals are free to express their highest purpose while rooted in community that governs for this common good – is dying or even dead.  I say history proves that when people unite to serve our greater good, we transcend the pettiness of the ordinary and ascend to the dignity and wisdom of our Founding Fathers.

On the issues

ON THE ISSUES

INTROCAMPAIGN FINANCEINCOME EQUALITYENERGYPUBLIC LANDSHEALTHCARE
As Americans, we share core beliefs about the heart of our Democracy: we all have an equal voice; laws are fair and unbiased; no one is provided an unfair advantage; anyone succeeds with hard work and tenacity; our lands and water are unique and deserve care; we will experience a life better than our parents and that future generations will experience a life better than ours. This level playing field is the “American Dream.”

At the heart of many of the issues facing America and Colorado is one simple fact – the playing field has been tilted away from us.

We feel the disruption of stagnating wages, technology, climate change, rising education and healthcare costs, and declining job security. But when it comes to real solutions that address these critical issues, the average American has lost their voice at the table. Moneyed interests and the powerful seem to define the politics, create the policy and enforce the governance behind half-baked solutions.

Fixing this begins in our communities — in the grassroots — and by electing officials who bring our voices forward again.

I commit to this for the people and communities of Colorado's 2nd Congressional District.

I commit to getting big money out of politics and rebuilding the grassroots.

Enough of politics as usual where corporations, the uber-wealthy and insiders decide what’s best for us.  It’s not enough to talk about an oligarchy ruling our country, let’s lead the movement to bring grassroots politics and the voice of ordinary Americans back to the center of the conversation.

Citizens United must be overturned and laws passed to increase donor transparency, remove untraceable dark money and eliminate special interest contributions.  In the past, getting money out of politics was a bipartisan issue.  Now both parties have grown accustomed to doing business in an environment where “anything goes” and secret political money and their wealthy donors have an outsized voice in our political process.

Let’s walk the talk and dedicate time and effort to support the “Clean Elections” movement.  More importantly, let’s also do the hard work of re-building the grassroots by reaching out in our communities and bringing everyday voices to the center of the political conversation.

I commit to legislation that empowers citizen protections and holds bad actors accountable.

Lots of folks in America are feeling that the economy isn’t working for them and that extreme inequality is becoming the rule rather than the exception — the scales have been tipped towards the connected and the powerful.

America’s strength and prosperity is driven by its middle class. In 1980, when the middle class was still strong, those in the top 1% made 27 times more than folks in the bottom 50%. Today America’s top 1% makes 81 times more than the bottom 50%. Their income has grown by over 200% while income for the bottom remains unchanged at about $16,000. The middle class is withering on the vine.

Since 1980, America has seen citizen protections dismantled by efforts favoring special interests over ordinary folks:
• progressive taxation that levels the playing field has been replaced by a tax code that favors the wealthy
• laws protecting people against the excesses of industry, especially in the financial services industry, have been dismantled
• union bargaining power has been weakened and Congress has failed to change a stubbornly low minimum wage.

Data and analysis show that income inequality is largely the result of these policies. As your Congressman, I will fight for citizen protections and reversing the failed policies of the past. Just as importantly, I’ll push that bad actors be brought to justice so folks understand that protecting the middle class and leveling the playing field are Job #1.

I commit to a safe, clean energy economy, eliminating tax giveaways to the fossil fuel industry, STOPPING fracking in Boulder County, and fully supporting workers impacted by this transition.

Clean energy is good for business.  Colorado’s clean energy economy is now reported to have 62,000 people working in this sector, with a substantial number of those in Colorado's 2nd Congressional District.   With these clean energy investments, Colorado helps to protect its air, water and environment from degradation while doing our part to diminish the effects of climate change on future generations.

In 2004, Colorado was the first state to pass a Renewable Energy Standard requiring utilities to produce a certain percentage of electricity from renewables.  It has been increased three times since, leading to hundreds of renewable energy projects in the state. In 2016, wind energy accounted for more than 17% of all electricity generated in the state, ranking us 10th in the nation.  We are 11th in the amount of installed solar generation.

We must accelerate our transition to renewables.  Coal and natural gas continue to make up the bulk of Colorado’s energy production and emissions, but as the recent tragedy in Firestone demonstrated, they negatively impact citizens living near production sites.  These communities must have a strong say in protecting their citizens and their environment and Colorado should lead in establishing and enforcing these protections, just as we are in renewable energy.

Finally, Colorado’s clean energy efforts need to be amplified in cooperation with other states and nations working to ramp up renewable energy investments.  Having recently joined the U.S. Climate Alliance with several other states, Colorado is on a long-term path to reduce greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide emissions that will further protect our environment and grow our economy.  These efforts must be supported at all levels by the federal government.

I commit to being a zealous guardian of our public lands and advocate for laws and policies that support the interests of Colorado, now and into the future.

Our 2nd Congressional District holds some of the crown jewels of the state for outdoor recreation.  They are also the foundation of jobs and the clean air and water of our state.

There is so much at stake in Colorado's 2nd Congressional District, both economically and environmentally:

  • 71% of Colorado residents participate in motorized and non-motorized outdoor recreation
  • Visitors and residents contribute over $34 billion in annual economic activity on outdoor recreation
  • This activity and spending on outdoor recreations creates nearly four times as many direct jobs (229,000) as the oil and gas industry (39,000) and the mining industry (19,000) combined

* source: Outdoor Industry Association’s (OIA) 2017 report

From Winter Park to Vail, from Rocky Mountain National Park to Horsetooth Reservoir, residents and visitors seek out these spaces to enjoy the great outdoors.  Our federal and state public lands deserve to be protected so that they can continue to be a key driver in our state’s economy, and so they exist for future generations of Coloradans. 

I commit to fighting for Medicare for All.

Medical care is a basic human right. Having health insurance is just and fair, and it preserves the social compact between the government and the people.

I support Medicare for All because it fundamentally and immediately affects the well-being of every American and therefore our nation.

We currently have a healthcare system that is for profit, not for people. Awash in monopolies and oligopolies— and with few checks and balances on their market power— you and I pay the cost in the form of increasing premiums and drug prices but poorer health outcomes.

It’s time to challenge an industry that ranks first in lobbying both parties. Medicare for All offers a single payer system that delivers less costly care with better health outcomes and  60% of all Americans favor it.

I will join those in Congress already supporting Medicare for All and I will also personally work towards decreasing the power of the healthcare industry by pledging never to take their lobby contributions.