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Q&A with state Senate candidate Andy Kerr

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By Vicky Gits

Andy Kerr, Lakewood Democrat

The incumbent state representative from House District 26, Andy Kerr, is serving his third term, at the end of which he hopes to be elected a state senator from Senate District 22. The incumbent senator from SD 22 is Tim Neville, whose term will end in January. As a result of redistricting, Neville no longer lives in SD 22 and therefore is not qualified to run. Neville was appointed to replace state Sen. Mike Kopp, a Republican.

The newly redrawn SD 22 consists of a vertical strip from West 26th Avenue on the north to Deer Creek Canyon Road on the south, South Simms Street on the west and Wadsworth Boulevard on the east in South Jeffco (east Lakewood and central South Jeffco). The race is highly competitive, with voters divided equally between Democrats, Republicans and independents.

Biographical

Current residence:Kendrick Lakes, Lakewood; 10 years

Years of residence in Jefferson County: 35 years

High school: Green Mountain

College: University of Colorado

Graduate degrees: B.A. in geography, MA in information and learning technologies, and an administrative leadership and policy studies license.

Birthplace:Maryland

Date of birth: Oct. 21, 1968

Profession/trade/current job: Teacher

Past work experience: Jeffco Public Schools teacher, catering manager, waiter, snowboard instructor

Married:  Tammy

Children: Two sons and one daughter; ages 9, 7 and 3, Kendrick Lakes Elementary.

Favorite hobbies, pastimes, sports: Bicycling, snowboarding

Favorite charity:Second Wind Fund, a youth suicide prevention organization created in response to tragic events at Green Mountain High. I was deeply moved by what happened in my community and how we came together. The Second Wind Fund has done amazing work, lowering the risk to kids nationwide.

Favorite beverage: Orange juice

Your political role model: Ralph Carr

Your favorite political figure: Norma Anderson

 

Short answer

Political party affiliation: Democrat, state House of Representatives, 2006 to present; assistant majority leader, 2009 to 2010; majority whip, 2007

Community involvement: Green Mountain Civic Association, 1996-2002; Second Wind Fund honorary board, 2006; Dunstan Foundation 2000-2005

Time commitment: As a citizen legislator, I maintain a full-time job as a teacher and take unpaid leave to fulfill my duties during the legislative session.

VALUES

What is your main reason for wanting to be a state senator?

I want to help keep Jefferson County a great place to live, learn, and work.

What personal qualities, job or educational experience do you bring to the job that would benefit your role as a state senator?

Teaching has sharpened my skills as a communicator. As a parent, I have a large stake in the community.

What one element of state government do you feel needs to be improved, why, and what will you do about it?

We can realize more savings by streamlining our procurement system as I did establishing the office of information technology.

Name something that distinguishes you from your opponent and makes you a better choice for the job.

Gov. John Hickenlooper has endorsed me and my vision for moving Colorado forward.

Describe your political philosophy.

I am a Democrat, but my political philosophy has nothing to do with parties and labels. I represent my district.


ISSUES

Should hydraulic fracking or fracturing be regulated by the state or local entities?

There should be appropriate state minimums to ensure public health and safety, and allow local control of broader rules if the people most impacted want to make their own land-use decisions.

What should be done about funding higher education?

We must make the investments that will give all Colorado students the skills for 21st-century jobs. We underfund our schools, and the growth of tuition rates is unsustainable.

What should be done at the state level about funding K-12 education?

We need a comprehensive budget solution that brings our state and local governments to the table to focus on the shared goal of world-class schools.

Should marijuana be legalized?

There is a ballot initiative on this subject, and I will let that stand or fall on its own merits. Should it pass, I will work to create a framework of common-sense regulation for the businesses and to protect our communities.

What can the state do to help create jobs?

A good environment for small-business growth requires more than looking at tax rates. We need an educated workforce and strong infrastructure. By looking at the whole picture, we can build jobs.

Do you support the Affordable Health Care Act and the creation of health insurance exchanges in the state?

We should move forward to create a Colorado model for better access to affordable quality care without further delays from the commission.

Should the funding formula for PERA be changed?

When the fund was in trouble, I carried the bill that brought all sides together to share the burden of putting it back on a secure footing. I will oppose any new attempts to rob our seniors of their retirement security.

Do you believe in special tuition rates statewide for students who are undocumented, raised in this country, with three years of high school?

I supported a bill, similar to the programs in Texas and Kansas, that would educate these students without increasing the cost to Colorado taxpayers.

Should the state be doing more about wildfire prevention at the state level?

Yes. We should continue to improve our processes using the latest technologies and techniques.

What needs to be done to resolve the state’s ongoing budget crisis?

We need a frank conversation about the kind of Colorado we want and what we are willing to do, to see comprehensive reform of our conflicting constitutional provisions and our overall tax structure.

Should colleges and universities be able to ban guns on campus?

Yes.