"Meet Greg Lopez, Underdog Governor Candidate Who's Shaking Up the Race"
Denver Westword: Why should Coloradans vote for you to become the state's next governor?
Greg Lopez: I recognize that there are 64 counties in the state and there are so many different economies and so many different ways of life. It's important for the governor to keep his hands on the pulse of all the people who are out there. I'm a former elected official. I know what it means to be a true public servant. I really care about the future of Colorado, and I care about where we're going. I think we need to re-evaluate a lot of the decisions that are being made and make sure that we all have a future we can be proud of, not only for ourselves, but for our children. That's why I'm running. I think I bring the right voice, the right temperament, the right experience, and I want to do the most I can do to help the state of Colorado.
Denver Westword: What led to your decision to run for governor?
Greg Lopez: I looked at what happened with the presidential election and the message from the people of America. They said, "We don't want the status quo. We want a change. We want a different voice. We want a different face. We want someone who has a totally different attitude about politics and how decisions should be made." Then I asked myself, "What do you bring to the table?" And as I looked at the things I've learned over the course of my life, how I make decisions and the fact that I am a strong believer in God, I thought if ever there's a time for me to step up to the plate, it was the time to say, "Hey, I'd like to volunteer to become the next governor of Colorado. If you, the public, will have me, I'd like to volunteer for that position."
Denver Westword: Let's touch on the issues you've named as most important to you. The first one is making sure that the economic boom in Colorado is experienced equally across the state. How, as governor, can you help make that happen?
Greg Lopez: I think what I can do is champion and advocate for the small-business community. Every community has a small-business component. Not every community has a major corporation or a major corporate headquarters. But every community has a small business. As governor. I'll be able to understand the relationship the State of Colorado has with the Small Business Administration.
There are fifteen small-business development centers in the State of Colorado. And when you have a governor who's talking about small business, I think that's important, because it encourages people. It lets them know they have an advocate, a true champion. Removing regulations and those types of things help, but at the end of the day, there's not one thing a governor can do that will change the entire economic vitality across the state. It's hard work, but you've got to know where you're going, and you've got to plant seeds.
I'll work with mayors. Being a former mayor, I know exactly the challenges they go through. I'll work with county commissioners about their master plans and their transportation corridors, their zoning and setbacks and water issues. I get all that. I can relate to them, they can talk to me, we can work together to see what the state can do, if anything, to help them achieve the future they want for their area. I think it'll be more about making sure we don't forget there are 64 counties and we champion the small-business environment across the state.
Denver Westword: Could you talk to me about your time as Colorado director for the U.S. Small Business Administration?
Greg Lopez: That's one of the biggest positions I've had and the one I'm most proud of, because I helped small business across the entire state of Colorado to be successful and achieve the American dream. When I was at SBA, I was the voice and face of small business. I was at the highest ranking level you could be in the state for that agency, and I'm proud to say we were able to garner $2.9 billion in loans to small businesses while I was there, $4.6 billion in federal contracting, and about 45,000 jobs that were either retained or created from those contracts.
Every community has a small-business component. Our entire country is built on the shoulders of small business. It's not built on the shoulders of big corporations. When you think about it, every corporation started out as a small business at one point or another. So small business is really dear to my heart. I know that's where people are really trying to improve their lives and improve everything around them. They take the risk to hire others, and then they're responsible for those people — to make payroll and make sure they're not losing income. And it's tough. It's tough to be a small-business owner.
Denver Westword: On the subject of transportation, are we spending enough money on it right now? And if we're not, would you support raising taxes, or do you think the extra funds can be found elsewhere?
Greg Lopez: I can tell you we're not spending enough on roads right now. It's obvious. Before Governor Bill Ritter left office, he commissioned a bipartisan committee to study the issue of transportation. And that report came back and said, "We've seen the growth that's happening so you need to increase the amount of money you're spending on transportation." But obviously that study didn't go very far, because today we're spending less on transportation than Governor Ritter did when he was in office. That's why we're in the place we are.
I believe we do have the money. I believe it's sitting in the CDOT budget. We need to fine-tune things and make hard decisions, tough decisions. Are we going to build a trail or are we going to put money toward roads people are using to get to work or to get home? People spend a long day at work, and when they head home, they just want to spend time with their families, just want to spend time with their kids. They just want to spend time with the people who truly matter. But then they find themselves stuck for two hours trying to get home. They get home, and they're not in the mood they were hoping to be. They're frustrated, they're agitated. That doesn't make family life that great. And that's wrong. We need to fix that.
We need to look at the state budget, because I believe there's plenty of money there. And then we need to look at alternative corridors. I sat on the board of E-470. Can you imagine if E-470 didn't exist today and people would have to use only I-25 and I-70 to get to the airport? We don't even have a loop system around the metropolitan area. So we need someone who can put on truly visionary glasses and say, "What can we do? Let's work together."
I will never raise taxes. I think that's wrong. I will defend TABOR forever. And here's what TABOR does. It says, "If you need more money, ask us. Just ask, and we'll tell you if we agree with you or not." I think that's a reasonable request to the citizens of Colorado: "Let us vote on.
The above content is the property of Westowrd, Denver reprinted with permission. All Rights Reserved, May 2018.