Romanoff pushes for greater mental health access, climate action in US Senate campaign
KEYSTONE — After losing a loved one to suicide, U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff, a Democrat, has made it his mission to improve mental health access for Coloradans.
“I don’t want anybody to struggle, suffer or die on account of problems we can fix,” he said.
Romanoff is up against former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper in the June 30 primary election. The winner will go up against Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in November’s general election.
The 2020 election is Romanoff’s second time running for senate. In 2010, he lost to Sen. Michael Bennet but had the support of voters in Summit County. He also served four terms in the Colorado House of Representatives. During two of those terms, he was speaker of the house.
His main platform this time around is combating the mental health crisis in Colorado. As CEO of Mental Health Colorado, Romanoff worked with Summit County to improve local access to resources.
Romanoff plans to combat the mental health crisis by investing in prevention and early intervention.
“That includes getting more services in schools … training school staff to recognize the early warning signs of mental health and substance disorders,” he said. “Jails, prisons and warehouses for people who face mental illness and drug addiction are the most expensive and least therapeutic environment you can pick.”
He said he also will hold insurance companies accountable for providing equal coverage for mental health and physical care. It’s important to integrate mental health into the primary care system, he said.
“Right now, we often send you to one place to treat your body and a different place to treat your mind,” Romanoff said.
Climate change is another major issue in Romanoff’s campaign. The Democrat supports the Green New Deal, a legislative package that aims to tackle climate change. Both Gardner and Hickenlooper oppose the plan.
“I just don’t think we’re going to get the climate action we need if we continue to elect politicians who owe their seat to the industry they’re supposed to be regulating,” he said.
When it comes to the economy, Romanoff said it’s important to build one that “works for all of us.”
“Right now, it works really well if you’re at the top,” he said. “You could buy a member of Congress, buy yourself a tax break, tilt the playing field against people in the middle or in the bottom.”
When it comes to the economic toll of the novel coronavirus pandemic on resort communities like Summit County, Romanoff said the country will need a “massive economic recovery plan” similar to the original New Deal. The New Deal was a series of programs and projects proposed by former President Franklin D. Roosevelt to push America toward recovery from the Great Depression.
“Right now, we need to make sure that family businesses get the financial support they need to move forward,” he said. “Moving forward, we need to make an investment in economic recovery.”
In order to combat the virus itself, Romanoff said Congress needs to provide widespread testing, tracing, isolation and treatment.
“We need to accelerate the development of a vaccine,” he said. “We need to provide the personal protective equipment that our health care heroes are pleading for.”
Romanoff also touched on how governments should respond to the protests in Denver and other cities in response to the killing of George Floyd. He said every police firm in America should have independent oversight, the officers responsible should be held accountable, and police officers should have better training and recruitment.
He also believes every officer should have body cameras and that practices like the chokehold should be banned.
“I was horrified by the killing and horrified to know that it wasn’t an isolated incident,” he said.
Romanoff said his campaign is grassroots, which speaks to the kind of candidate he is.
“I will be the most responsive, transparent, economical senator we’ve ever had,” he said.
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