Karl Hanlon says he is ‘fighting for rural Colorado,’ prioritizing health care and addressing the current economy
DILLON — Karl Hanlon, an attorney and rancher, is running for Colorado Senate District 8 in the Democratic primary.
While Hanlon lives with his family in Carbondale, he is active in several Colorado communities as he legally represents the town of Silverthorne, the city of Glenwood Springs, the Aspen Fire Protection District and the Grand Junction Regional Airport, where he serves as general counsel.
Hanlon said he always has been involved in the communities where he has lived, and after moving back to Colorado from law school, he realized helping communities and organizations find and implement their visions was very rewarding. Hanlon gave the example of Silverthorne’s Fourth Street Crossing development, which he said he helped bring “across the finish line” and that it has been fulfilling to see it turn into a “built environment for the community.”
Hanlon listed climate change, health insurance options, workforce housing and the protection of public lands as some of the issues he wants to address that directly apply to District 8. He detailed how climate change affects the area, impacting the health and welfare of residents, the economy and agriculture. He also noted how affordable and accessible health care options are important to rural Colorado as options are often limited and said there needs to be a public option.
Announcing his run for state Senate in early March, Hanlon entered the race just before the COVID-19 shutdown hit, which devastated the tourism-based economy of mountain communities like Summit County. In order to address this, Hanlon said creativity is key while still respecting the science and numbers of the pandemic. He said we need to rethink how business has been done in the past.
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“The piece that has been missing that I think is super important is the back and forth with the business communities on what’s possible,” Hanlon said. “It’s not going to look like it did, but I also think we need to be careful not to just dictate from the top down without having conversations at the ground level about what they see working and what they don’t.”
As for the conversation going on nationally around policing, Hanlon said he believes these types of conversations are a “great starting point for every community.” He said the expectations of law enforcement need to be addressed and that the current conversation brings an opportunity for change.
“Now (the police department is) responding to mental health calls, they’re responding to addiction calls, they are responding to virtually everything that we have cut funding to,” Hanlon said. “… I think we really have an opportunity to rethink public safety in how we address those things. … We can’t solve social problems with policing. These are deep-rooted economic and social issues that we are struggling with, and enforcement is not going to work to deal with it there, it needs to be dealt with differently.”
Hanlon said prior to the economic crisis, health care would have been his first priority if elected because it is the most time sensitive and impactful to the residents of District 8. However, with the economic situation driven by COVID-19, Hanlon said there needs to be a reform of the restrictions provided under the TABOR amendment because the revenue cap has been debilitating to the state and more reserves would have been available to help with the crisis had the cap not been in place. He said that other priorities are going to have to face the economic barrier, which is why TABOR needs to be addressed.
“I’ve been in this district my whole life. I have also been a Democrat my whole life. For me, this is about fighting for rural Colorado and everything positive that makes it up,” Hanlon said, citing the resort and agricultural communities of the district.
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