Democrat David Paladino is seeking the state Senate District 27 being vacated by Republican incumbent Nancy Spence, who is term-limited.
A first-time candidate for political office, Paladino faces state Rep. David Balmer, a Republican who was eliminated from House District 39 by redistricting.
An online bio says Paladino has worked with state and local governments across the nation and is familiar with public policy and practical management problems.
He earned a bachelor's degree in international studies from American University, and served in the Merchant Marine. He has actively supported many Denver-area charities, and was appointed adjunct faculty for 1989 at the University of Ottawa-Phoenix.
Paladino is married to Cindi, his wife of 30 years, and resides in Centennial. He has three children and seven grandchildren.
Colorado Community Media asked the following questions of candidates in the Colorado Senate District 27 race. (Editor's note: Balmer did not respond to requests to participate in the Q&A.) Below are Paladino's answers.
What makes you the best candidate for this office?
I will be a state senator who is willing to pursue working together for a greater Colorado and will offer a strong voice for getting past the political divisiveness often supported by my opponent. Why? Because we have to get over this political lockjaw to meet our challenges.
My opponent has put politics before people. As someone with 25 years' experience in all levels of government, a former small business owner and former reporter, I will put citizens, good working solutions and vision before politics. Our district deserves this kind of senator.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the district and what would you do to meet that challenge?
We have many challenges as a suburban district: supporting our schools, helping businesses create new jobs and keeping government out of deciding our personal choices. However, our biggest challenge is having enough local control over issues that affect our families and neighborhoods.
For example, our local school districts are inundated with unfunded mandates that don't let teachers or administrators perform to their best abilities. We also have no local say over the coming suburban oil and gas drilling (“fracking”) operations so that we can insist that our air and water remain safe and our property values upheld. Local citizens deserve a voice. Our biggest challenge is guaranteeing that.
What should be done to improve Colorado's K-12 educational system?
We need to stop imposing unfunded mandates and more bureaucracy on our schools, burdening them both financially and administratively. We have two of the best school districts in the state represented in SD-27 — Littleton Public Schools and Cherry Creek Public Schools. However, both are facing serious challenges, partially brought upon them by legislation.
I believe that we need to ask all of the stakeholders in education to work together to develop best practices models for our state and to suggest how urban, suburban and rural school districts may gain from this. This would be a good step forward with vision for Colorado.