Ken Salazar: Why I’m not running for Colorado governor in 2018

The 2018 election for governor of Colorado is a keystone to the future greatness of Colorado. Several individuals, both Democratic and Republican, have expressed an interest in serving as governor. I will not be among them.

This has been a difficult decision, because I love Colorado. I believe I would have won an election for governor, and that I would have been a successful governor for all the people of Colorado. However, my family’s well-being must come first.

Colorado is the greatest state in the nation. Our people embody the great spirit of Western independence and common sense. The grandeur of our mountains, rivers, ranch and farmlands make us the most beautiful state in the nation and provide us our enviable quality of life. And our economy is the best in the nation thanks to the leadership of many over the years.

As I celebrate the greatness of our state and her people, the key question for the next governor is how to preserve the greatness of our state and our quality of life as our population grows from 5.4 million people to more than 8 million in the next 25 years.

As Colorado grows, we face many challenges. Even though our economy is booming statewide, we have many communities in economic distress, including much of rural Colorado.

Colorado needs to solve its statewide transportation challenges that cause the horrific gridlocks on Interestate 70, I-25 and elsewhere, as well as decaying roads and bridges throughout the state. Colorado’s education crisis needs to be solved from pre-kindergarten to college. It is sad that Colorado has defunded higher education and abandoned the great tradition of leading the nation with our great colleges and universities.

And as we shoehorn in 2.5 million more people into our state, how will we preserve our great open spaces, rivers, and farm and ranch lands? These are a few of the challenges the next governor of Colorado must tackle.

I have had the honor of working alongside presidents, governors, senators, county commissioners, mayors and other officials to address Colorado’s challenges over the last 30 years. I have stood on the shoulders of giants to see a bright and optimistic future for all of our people regardless of ZIP code, gender, race, nationality, or sexual orientation.

I thank the people of Colorado for having elected me statewide three times to serve them as their attorney general and U.S. senator. Those elections and my service gave me the opportunity to serve Colorado and the nation as secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. And I thank my forefathers and foremothers who came to farm and ranch the soils along the Rio Grande River more than four centuries ago who taught me the timeless values of faith, family and community.

I look forward to supporting a candidate for governor who has the conviction to tackle Colorado’s challenges and to preserve the quality of life for ourselves and our posterity.

Ken Salazar is a former U.S. Interior secretary, U.S. senator and Colorado attorney general.

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