JOHN RONQUILLO

Campaign website: johnron.co

Biography

  • Dr. John Ronquillo is an assistant professor at the University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs where he has educated hundreds of public servants in Colorado and beyond. He has authored or produced several journal articles, book chapters, reviews, op-eds, professional reports, and creative productions on topics ranging from servant leadership to ethics and social equity. John is active in the community, having served on the Children’s Hospital Colorado Family Advisory Committee, and on the Boards of Directors for the Social Enterprise Alliance-Colorado Chapter, the Arapahoe County Foundation, Inc., and Servicios de La Raza. The first in his immediate family to attend college, John holds a Ph.D. in public administration and policy from The University of Georgia, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Arizona State University. John is a proud resident and community champion of Aurora, Colorado’s most diverse city.  

Why do you want this job?

  • I'm running for the Colorado House because Coloradans are facing serious issues around housing security, wage equity, crippling student debt, a regression in civil rights, and a broken health care system that doesn't work for all of us. I will fight to fund our public schools, pay our public educators what they’re worth, work toward better transportation alternatives, implement stronger environmental protections, and to reform our criminal justice system. 

Budgeting in tough times 

(Choose one to answer)

> What is one bill you plan to sponsor that won't cost taxpayers anything?

> What new ideas do you bring in a time of budget cuts?

  • The projected budget deficit for FY 2020-21 is around 3.3 billion. Lawmakers have been explicit in saying that everything is on the table in terms of what could be cut. Sadly, we’ve seen this reflected in cuts that will affect seniors and veterans, for example. In terms of preservation, what I don’t want to see are further cuts to K-12 education, which was already cut by $724 million this year. While Amendment 23 requires the General Assembly to increase per-pupil funding every year, we have not been able to do that for over a decade, and this only further hurts education. Rather than further education cuts, I will explore reducing funding to the Department of Corrections and private prisons as an opportunity for further criminal justice reform, including expunging low-level marijuana offenses.

Perennial budget issues

(Choose one to answer)

> How do we pay for education?

> How do we pay for transportation?

  • The most important issue is ensuring the state stays fiscally sound following a $3.3 billion state budget shortfall, and I believe to address that we must dismantle TABOR and repeal the Gallagher Amendment. I’m aware that there are efforts afoot to do that, and I am a strong proponent of Initiative #271 to help Coloradans earning less than $250k a year see some tax relief, to see more money to go toward our public schools and educators, and to address the current imbalance of our tax code. I also support a ballot measure to repeal Gallagher because the very serious negative externalities of the COVID-19 pandemic have dramatically underlined the need for Colorado to have a rainy day fund and to build better mechanisms for funding our public infrastructures. If either of these initiatives fails, we must persist in finding creative ways to secure Colorado’s fiscal future.

Issues of the pandemic

(Choose one to answer) 

> Is the state reopening too quickly or too slowly?
> Are health care reforms an immediate priority?
> What are the best steps to rebuilding the economy? 

  • We’re seeing levels of unemployment that are approaching those of the last economic recession we experienced, and we weren’t able to work our way out of that without federal legislation through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The state is having difficulty in meeting the demand of those unemployment filings, and we need to be proactive about helping residents. We’ve seen calls from candidates and elected officials at state and federal levels alike calling for a form of universal basic income, but in some form or other, direct cash assistance, a moratorium on utility increases, and debt cancellation are all areas that should be explored, among others. Colorado must also pursue public banking. This way, the state can provide low-interest loans to businesses looking to hire, thus increasing the job landscape and potential for economic recovery.

Working together

(Choose one to answer)

> What is an idea or approach your primary opponent has proposed that you intend to take to the Capitol?

> Name a current or former legislator from the opposing party you admire, and why.

  • I don’t know that it’s directly connected to a specific proposal, but I know that my primary opponent is a champion of small and immigrant-owned businesses. I, too, would like to continue to find ways that maximize opportunities for Colorado’s women- and minority-owned businesses. I’m also proud to carry the endorsement of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition Action Fund and will be a strong voice for our immigrant communities.

NAQUETTA RICKS

Campaign website: www.ricks4co.com

Biography

  • As a young girl, I fled a Civil War in my native country, Liberia, and resettled in Aurora. Since then, I have had the opportunity to live what now seems like an impossible American Dream. After graduating from Aurora Central, I earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Business Administration from Metro and CU respectively. I am the proud mother of a 24 year old daughter and I’ve worked hard to provide for her and operate a successful small mortgage brokerage business. I’ve dedicated my life to working to improve my community, by helping build economic knowledge. capacity and attainability for immigrant and low income communities. I serve on various community boards, and find joy in helping people reach their goal of home ownership through affordable housing as a mortgage broker.

Why do you want this job?

  • I’m running to ensure that whether you are a new immigrant or a fifth-generation Coloradan, you are given an equal opportunity to succeed in life. This means fighting at the State House for policies that expand quality of life for our residents. We must expand apprenticeships, vocational training and continued access to education. One of my primary focuses must be affordable and attainable housing. Transparency and accountability in legislation and politics is critical to restoring faith in our government, and those elected to serve the people. As an accountant, cutting inefficiency and abuses will be at the forefront of my work. I will combine my education and professional experience to help ensure Colorado continues to be a state that operates by and for the people.

Budgeting in tough times 

(Choose one to answer)

> What is one bill you plan to sponsor that won't cost taxpayers anything?

> What new ideas do you bring in a time of budget cuts?

  • I would look to release certain non-violent offenders with short amounts remaining on their sentence.  This is a method that can save money almost immediately.  These offenders would be required to be employed or enter short-term training so that they can quickly become contributing members of society.  They would need to be closely monitored in a community correction or something similar to overseen for necessary compliance. While prison is a necessity, it is not necessarily the most economical or rehabilitative method of dealing with all offenders.

Perennial budget issues

(Choose one to answer)

> How do we pay for education?

> How do we pay for transportation?

  • The perennial problems are perennial because we don't have the will or agreement for long term solutions.  Transportation needs to be addressed with an increase of the gasoline tax with built-in increases.  We also need to allocate money from the general fund to supplement the difference in what needed transportation expenses.  No one has a clear and agreeable solution.  Everyone will need to accept some of what they don't want to do.

Issues of the pandemic

(Choose one to answer) 

> Is the state reopening too quickly or too slowly?
> Are health care reforms an immediate priority?
> What are the best steps to rebuilding the economy? 

  • The best step for rebuilding the economy is to restore the public's belief that there are general and effective efforts to keep them somewhat safe.  These include having a robust testing system that can identify people with COVID19 quickly and being able to track people they may have contacted.  Without the reassurance that they are safe or can be easily treated, the public will be hesitant to return to daily--let alone recreational activities.  So all efforts must be to that end.

Working together

(Choose one to answer)

> What is an idea or approach your primary opponent has proposed that you intend to take to the Capitol?

> Name a current or former legislator from the opposing party you admire, and why.

  • My opponent has taken an approach of being a consultant and has been involved in studying public policy. I have always admired this as I have been a person of action and community involvement.  My arrival in America as an immigrant has required me to be motivated and driven both in education as I earned an MBA and the development of my successful brokerage firm.  I have long roots in the Aurora community and in helping the Aurora community. I believe that using his theory with my decades of local experience will serve the people of Aurora well.

Managing Editor

Linda Shapley has more than 30 years of print and digital news experience. She was Managing Editor of The Denver Post until 2017, overseeing news operations and coverage.

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