Name: Kurt Huffman
Biography: Over the last nearly 50 years, Representative Kurt Huffman has called Colorado home. He has lived most of this time in Highlands Ranch with his wife of 35 years Julie. Kurt is a licensed professional engineer, a small business owner, and entrepreneur. A long-time community leader, he has served as a State Capitol legislative volunteer for the last four sessions, is a Highlands Ranch Community Association District Delegate, has been a Douglas County Planning Commissioner, and a volunteer for the Highlands Ranch Metro District and Centennial Water Sanitation District. I was appointed to the House District 43 seat by the Colorado GOP in June when former Kevin Van Winkle became the Colorado senator for Senate District 30.
When it comes to funding school districts and paying teachers in Colorado – How do you think we stack up on a national level? What do you think should be done at the state level to address the problems teachers and schools are facing?
I am concerned Colorado public school teachers are among the lowest paid in the nation in comparison to similar occupations based on education, experience, and hours worked. Colorado schools are struggling as well, with a high school graduation rate of just 80% and nearly half of students performing below grade-level for reading, writing, and mathematics. I believe every child should be guaranteed an opportunity to graduate with the basic skills to be successful in life. Inadequate state level funding of public schools needs to be addressed to keep Colorado competitive and to ensure our children are successful in their future.
Mental health continues to be a problem in Colorado and nationwide – What should be done at the state level to address the youth mental health crisis and to continue increasing help for adults?
According to Mental Health America’s 2022 rankings, Colorado has the nation’s highest rate of adult mental illness and lowest access to care. I believe there needs to be a comprehensive coordinated effort in Metro Denver that includes the state, counties, and municipalities targeting assistance to people experiencing a mental health crisis. Similarly, I believe the counties and the school districts need to combine efforts to identify and provide mental health services to any youth in crisis.
Inflation, gas prices and the economy continue to be an issue in 2022 – Families are paying extra for everything. What can and should be done in Colorado to help families?
Colorado is experiencing the highest inflation in the country and 40% of Colorado small businesses have permanently closed their doors. The only solution to economic recession is to restart the Colorado economy with economic incentives, reduction of taxes and fees, and the removal of real and artificial barriers to starting new businesses. Small business is a measure of the health of our communities, employers of our families, and the first jobs for our children and is the best way to restart our local economies. On a state level we need large companies to consider investing in Colorado's recovery and future.
If elected, can you work on a bi-partisan level to pass bills and address the needs of the Colorado population as a whole and not just live along party lines? Give examples of where you could compromise.
Over the last four years I was a legislative volunteer with Representative Mark Baisley and worked on 10 bipartisan House Bills that include child immunization status, county road maintenance, education, limited gaming and sport betting, and state broadband deployment/internet platforms. Since becoming your State Representative in June, I have proposed bipartisan legislation including five House Bills in areas of improving our economy, ensuring community safety, guaranteeing criminal justice, and preserving community standards. Serving in the community and as a legislative volunteer has provided me an opportunity to develop many working relationships that will support strong bipartisan legislation in the next session.
Housing affordability and homelessness have become a state and nationwide issue. What can be done at the state level to address the growing problem?
At the State Capitol we have an opportunity to make affordable housing by eliminating the real and artificial barriers to building starter homes for first-time home buyers including building condominiums, duplexes, and smaller homes so our children and seniors have opportunities to stay here in Colorado. I believe there needs to be a comprehensive coordinated effort in Metro Denver that includes state, counties, and municipalities targeting assistance to the homeless population that provides basic living facilities and an opportunity to receive mental health treatment.
Crime is quickly becoming a major concern in Colorado. With Colorado ranking first in the nation for car thefts, and major crimes on the rise – what do state lawmakers need to do to help fix the problems?
Colorado is now ranked #1 in auto theft, bank robberies, and narcotic use. Colorado legislators need to ensure that our current laws are enforced while strengthening auto theft, narcotics, and other felony laws. In addition, Colorado legislators need to enact new laws that prevent repeat felons from receiving personal recognizance releases or low value bail bonds. Colorado legislators are already working across the aisle to find solutions in the next session to reduce crime in Colorado through enforcing current laws, strengthening felony laws, and enacting new laws limiting personal releases and bail bonds for repeat criminal offenders.
Public trust in government, elections and public health are at an all-time low – What should state and federal lawmakers be doing differently to change public perception?
Colorado was founded on the ideal of a citizen legislature where our state senators and representative have other full-time occupations other than working at the State Capitol. As a 26 year community volunteer for Highlands Ranch, I believe we need to get back to the ideal that our state legislators are working members of our community and are elected to serve the people living in our communities. When our state legislators are seen as every day active working community members, the trust in our State Capitol will be reestablished and the perception of the people we serve will change too.
Water rights and water availability are becoming an issue for counties and local municipalities – what can the state do to create a strategic plan that works for all?
The problem is Colorado currently does not have a state water policy to ensure water availability for our children and grandchildren. I believe Colorado should renegotiate our water rights with other downstream states while initiating a state water policy to continue building new reservoirs for future water supply.