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U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper has been on a speaking-listening tour throughout Colorado while the U.S. Senate has been on break, and spent Thursday, Sept. 2 in Chaffee County, holding a session in the Salida area, meeting with the business community.

U.S. Senate candidate, former Gov. John Hickenlooper debates on June 16, 2020. Pool Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post

He discussed the county’s infrastructure challenges, focused on broadband and the county’s multi-modal plan, the need for workforce housing solutions, and discussed the economic recovery from the COVID pandemic.

The Chaffee County COVID Leadership Roundtable was a topic of pride for the county, and Hickenlooper pointed out that it could be a model for the rest of the country in how to pull a community together to address mutual challenges.

He offered his view of what the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill will mean for Colorado saying,”$3.7 billion for federal aid for highways and $225 million for bridges. For broadband, Colorado’s allocation will be a minimum of $100 million… There’s also money for public transportation, almost a billion dollars in Colorado. And as I said before, these electric vehicle charging networks, when you put all that in, you get over $57 million in Colorado.”

Hickenlooper brought up his concerns regarding voting rights: “I think what’s going on right now is troubling, because we see what are fairly transparent attempts to disenfranchise large numbers of voters.” He added, “I think if we were able to do the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, if we were able to piece together some of these different bills, and really focus on making sure we have election systems where people can’t cheat and where everybody is encouraged to vote.”

Obviously, the topic of climate change is on many people’s minds these days, including here in the Colorado Rocky Mountains where high altitude changes are speeding up and low snowpack, drought and the danger of wildfire are on most everyone’s minds.

“Climate is the existential challenge of our lives,” said Hickenlooper. “Every report that we get shows that climate change is accelerating faster than was previously believed… If we pass both the infrastructure bill and reconciliation we will deliver more resources to fight climate change than at any time in history.”

While there were fewer questions locally about the situation with the Afghanistan and Afghan refugees evacuated during the recent pullout from Afghanistan, Hickenlooper was asked during other stops throughout the state and he weighed in, decisively. “I believe very strongly that the Afghans who embraced us and embraced our values — those who risked their lives on our behalf  — deserve our support,” he said. “We should do everything we can to get them out,  to make sure that they are going to have a chance to create a new life for themselves.”