The Democratic candidate for governor, Bill Ritter, spoke Wednesday to a crowd of students at CU as a part of his campaign trail for the upcoming 2006 election.
“We need people who believe in investment of public education,” Ritter said.
Ritter was on campus at 11:30 a.m. on the UMC Terrace to talk to students about his goals for the position of Colorado governor. The message of his talk focused on education.
“I thought that it was really informative and touched on all the subjects that I wanted to hear about,” said junior news-editorial major Anthony Bowe.
Ritter, a Colorado native, started his speech with his personal story as part of a family of 12 children with a limited income. At 17, he pursued a bachelor’s degree at Colorado State University and later went to CU to study law. He emphasized that he would not be able to run for governor today without the help of state funding.
“There needs to be opportunities across the board,” said Ritter, referring to accessibility of higher education.
In 1974, when he entered college, 25 percent of state funding went toward higher education. That percentage has since dropped to 8 percent, limiting opportunities for people who want to pursue education beyond high school.
“We have a responsibility to the children of this state to provide access to higher education,” Ritter said.
The rest of his speech was centered on education, and when he finished his speech, he allowed students to ask him questions about his policies and beliefs.
“I liked it; I support him,” said Janine Allen, a freshman open-option major. “I really admire his focus on education and I believe that is the most important thing.”
Questions on environmental policies, immigration reform, the Pledge of Allegiance, term goals, veteran support, Referendum I, Referendum C and Amendment 44 were all addressed.
Ritter had three key points to his environmental policy, and all had to do with alternative fuel sources, like wind power, solar power and bio-fuels.
“We have to be mindful of the environment,” Ritter said.
Ritter said that as for immigration reform, prosecuting smugglers of those people, as well as prosecuting the employers who hire illegal immigrants are two ways to minimize the problem. He also said he supports providing guest worker visas so that immigrants are able to work in the country legally.
One student asked about his opinion on saying the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools.
“I don’t have a problem with people saying the Pledge of Allegiance,” Ritter said.
But he went on to say that he did have a problem with lack of opportunity for students to be in school in the first place, and that needs to be the priority when dealing with education.
“It is the hallmark of what makes us special as a country,” Ritter said. “Education matters to all of us.”
Ritter also emphasized that it is important that veterans know about the federal money that is available to them, as well as how to be able to access it. He is also a supporter of Referendum I, which would give rights to same sex marriages in the state, and Referendum C, which limits yearly increases in tuition in the state of Colorado.
Ritter was also asked about Amendment 44, which would legalize one ounce of marijuana.
“I am opposed,” Ritter said.
As a prosecuting attorney and former Denver district attorney, he is a supporter of “drug courts,” which keep criminals out of jail and prison, and focus more on rehabilitation.
“From what I’ve seen, coverage of issues was pretty well done. He really stands for democratic views and was able to find a middle ground on Amendment 44,” said freshman political science major Sebastien Gasquet.
Presenting the audience with an opportunity to ask questions after his speech helped Ritter rally more support.
“I think his speech was well done, well spoken, and the questions were answered,” said Dario Sanchez, a political science freshman. “I think he has a good chance of winning; approval ratings seem to be good for him right now and he is very charismatic.”