Candidate for Congressional District 2, Joe Neguse, speaks to the Summit Daily about issues affecting the state |

Candidate for Congressional District 2, Joe Neguse, speaks to the Summit Daily about issues affecting the state

Joe Neguse, Democratic candidate for Congressional District 2, talking to the Summit Daily in Frisco, July 24.
Hugh Carey /

With the midterm elections coming up in November, political candidates have been making their tours through the High Country. This week, the Summit Daily will be profiling the candidates vying to replace Jared Polis as the 2nd Congressional District’s next representative.

Last week, the Democratic candidate Joe Neguse came into town to discuss his campaign and platform. Neguse, 34, is an attorney and former state government official. Neguse was appointed in 2015 by Gov. Hickenlooper at the age of 31 to be the executive director of the Colorado Department of Regulatory agencies, which oversees consumer protection issues in the state.

Neguse was also a Regent for the University of Colorado system for six years, overseeing CU’s budget and tuition policies. Neguse previously ran as the Democratic candidate for Colorado Secretary of State in 2014, but lost a close election to current Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

A son of refugees from the war-torn country of Eritrea, if elected, Neguse would become the first African-American to be elected as CD-2’s representative. The Summit Daily caught up with Neguse while he was in Frisco:

Summit Daily News: Thanks for talking to us, Joe. One of the primary concerns up in the mountains is what to do about health care and health insurance. How will you be helping at the federal level to bring down premiums and improve health care in rural Colorado?

Joe Neguse: First, thank you for having me. It’s always great being in Frisco, you guys have amazing country out here. But folks here are paying some of the highest health insurance rates in this country, and people have to make tough decisions. I am deeply troubled by the fact that we spend more capita on health care than any other country, yet have some of the poorer health outcomes, such as for infant and maternal mortality rates. As a baseline proposition, I believe no family should go bankrupt if a loved one gets sick. I believe universal health care is the ultimate solution. I endorse the Medicare for All bill, which has 140 sponsors. It would be a meaningful way to provide a baseline level of coverage that would be a tremendous benefit for folks in Summit and across the state. However, having met folks in Summit, I heard loud and clear that we need relief now. I believe we need to take iterative steps to stabilize the markets if universal health care isn’t on the table yet. Your county commissioner, Dan Gibbs, has done a great job of beating this drum. A lot of work needs to be done at the federal level, but also with state legislative efforts. I want to work in tandem with local officials, commissioners and the legislative delegation to come up with fixes at federal level to push the larger fight.

Summit Daily: Environmental conservation is another critical issue out here. What will your environmental platform look like?

Joe Neguse: I believe our district is the most beautiful in the entire country, but climate change is starting to have a real impact on it. There are significant impacts on ski industry and wildfires are ravaging the state. When my wife and I talk about our daughter, who will be born in a few weeks, we think about the world she and all children will inherit. I want to make sure that our children at least have the world we have today. I want to work in Congress to pass some legislation that is meaningful and move the needle, and follow Rep. Polis’ legacy of conserving natural resources in our district. I also believe in pricing carbon, as well as a repeal of the phasedown of the production tax credit and investment tax credit. We need to continue investments in solar, wind and other renewables and eliminate subsidies for oil and gas.

Summit Daily: Immigration has been one of the most polarizing issues in this state and across the country. Where do you fall on immigration?

Joe Neguse: Immigration is an issue I am very passionate about. My parents were immigrants from Eritrea. I am incredibly lucky to live the American dream, because of the incredible opportunities this country offered. I think what is happening today, and the way the administration is treating immigrants, is immoral. It is immoral to separate babies from parents at the border, to deport people who have lived here for decades and who have contributed to our society in so many intangible ways. It is unconscionable to let it continue. I believe we need comprehensive immigration reform, and a clean DREAM act, not continue to allow this admin to engage with its unconscionable policies.

Summit Daily: What is your stance on public and higher education?

Joe Neguse: As a former CU Regent, I am intimately familiar with higher education in this state and regulation of the same. I believe in more affordable higher education, but in Colorado we are not funding it the way we should be. Colorado has one of the lowest funded higher education systems in the country, and we need to come up with serious state legislative efforts to boost funding. At the federal level, there is a plethora of funding programs for K-12 education that are incredibly important, like Title 1 and Title 2 funding. I believe children shouldn’t be going hungry when they go to school, and teachers should not be so underpaid. So there’s a lot we can be doing. I’ve been picking the brains of policymakers, administrators, teachers and students on way to work as a coalition to ultimately make our schools even better. I am a product of Colorado public schools, and I think we should be proud of our schools.

Look for a Q&A with Republican candidate Peter Yu in an upcoming issue of the Summit Daily.

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