Election 2018

Officials with business edge vie for Colorado governor's seat

A personal look at Stapleton, Polis

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In the governor’s race, Coloradans have a choice between two candidates with business acumen who have each served in their current public offices for about a decade.

Republican Walker Stapleton, the state treasurer, grew up in Connecticut and moved to Colorado after finishing business school about 15 years ago, he said.

“I have dealt with a lot of the biggest economic battles we’ve had in the state,” said Stapleton, who lives in Greenwood Village. Referring to a 2013 proposal to increase taxes for school funding, he said, “I led the effort to defeat Amendment 66 because I didn’t think the money was going to get to classrooms.”

Stapleton served a CEO and chief financial officer in the private sector before becoming treasurer in 2011, taking the helm of the office that invests Colorado’s tax dollars and helps get unclaimed property back to its lawful owners. The treasurer also serves on the board of the Public Employees’ Retirement Association, or PERA, the state’s public-employee pension program.

His opponent, Democrat Jared Polis, has served as the U.S. representative for Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District — including areas in Boulder, Clear Creek, Jefferson, Larimer and other counties — since 2009.

“The district I represent is a large, diverse district, from the Wyoming border out west past Vail,” said Polis, who grew up in Boulder and San Diego. He’s worked with diverse groups and represents agricultural communities, he said.

An entrepreneur who started internet efforts proflowers.com and bluemountain.com — offering flower delivery and online greeting cards — he’s had the experience of meeting payroll, seeing health care costs and putting benefit programs in place, he said.

Also a former chair of the Colorado State Board of Education, Polis started charter schools aimed at immigrants and homeless youth.

When discussing the governor’s race, independent political analyst Eric Sondermann has noted the tilt toward Democrats in what’s often tagged as a “purple” state.

“Colorado has been becoming a light-blue state,” Sondermann said, “but 2018 could potentially be a deep-blue year.”

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