Connect & Collaborate, Walker Stapleton, September 2, 2015

Station:   KNUS, 710 AM

Show:      Connect & Collaborate

Guests:    Stapleton


Date:       September 2, 2015

Topics:   Public Employees Retirement Administration (PERA),

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COLORADO STATE TREASURER, WALKER STAPLETON:  […]  You asked about unpopular stances.  I’ve been engaged in a multi-year, multi-layered battle with our pension system here in Colorado, which has a very large unfunded liability, to try and educate and inform people about how this liability is going to affect school districts and cities adversely across the state. And it’s news that nobody wants to hear because it’s kind of bad medicine from a financial standpoint, and from the standpoint that it’s not great news.  Nobody wants to hear that they’re not going to necessarily get  the pension that’s been promised to them, or their retirement system is causing the state financial problems.  But it’s truth.  And so I’ve committed myself, at least internally, to delivering that message because I think it will be better  in the long run for Colorado.  It will be better for our schools in the long run,  better for our cities, better for our kids, better for our grandkids.  And sometimes that’s a tough message for elected people to deliver because they’re worried that then people will become disenchanted and not necessarily want to support them in the next election.  But it’s—I think it’s incumbent on people that do get elected to have the courage to follow through,  on informing people as best they can about – at least in my position, about the financial picture of our state.  And that’s not always going to be lollipops and rainbows.  Someti9mes, that’s going to be hard conversations.  But I think at the end of the day, that ends up engendering respect and credibility for an individual.  At least, I hope it does.

HOST JEFF WASDEN:  […] You know, Walker, you talked about character, courage, — you know, really, that resolve and will to stand up there, knowing it may be unpopular.  You know, there are certain aspirations people have — whether it’s for higher office or whether it’s to just serve, whether it’s just trying to make a difference within their family, their community, their school, their church.  And so, you get these opportunities to really show that resolve and will. And we thank you for that.  That’s why you’re here.  That’s why you’re an elected official.  Um, and that’s why we’re highlighting you on this particulare Brave Leader segment this week.  So, thanks first and foremost for your service and what you do.

STAPLETON:  Thank you.

WASDEN:  Thanks, Walker.  Let’s chat a little bit more about some other brave leaders, because we really want to spend this time, I mean, really what you’ve learned from them.  You mentioned your dad and others that you’ve admired, but what are some of those traits about bravery and leadership and courage that you’ve learned from others that you’re using to help you fulfill the functions within the elected office that you hold?

STAPLETON:  Well, one of the true blessings and gifts of being in elected office is being to be a part of so many great nonprofit and community groups in Colorado that are doing great things.  And it’s far too numerous for us to cover in this conversation.  But, you know, for instance, I’m a — I have the privelege of being a Rotarian, and I have a Rotary Club that conveniently meets a half a mile from my house.  And as you know, Jeff,  I have a 7 year old, a 4 year old, and a 1 year old, so just getting out of my house in the morning is a Herculean affair.

WASDEN:  [laughter]  Thank goodness they look like your wife, too, by the way!

STAPLETON:  Oh, exactly! That’s true as well! But, you know, seeing — being able to see a group like Rotary, for instance, and then kind of mirroring the good work that the Rotarians do with fires and floods and shootings that have happened all across our state, I’m seeing how groups of people respond all over our state, um with an openness of heart and and a willingness to be helpful to their neighbor.  It’s inspiring. And there are so many different ways that people can give back in life, and public service is just one small way.  But, you know, people can give back through their church, people can give back through different community groups, through Rotary groups, or serving on the board of nonprofits that are meaningful, uh, to them.  And, um, — and when you actually have a chance to see on a statewide basis, as I’ve had as an elected official, all the good works that people do across our state in response to the tragedies that have occurred in our state, I, uh — it really is inspiring–as far as the human spirit goes, that there’s a lot of good people out there that want to do good things for their neighbors in Colorado.  And then, that makes me proud to be a Coloradan.

WASDEN:  That’s great.  That’s just an amazing answer.  And I appreciate you, Walker, and your generosity and humbleness in thanking other because we do have so many people who answer that call .  You know, where much is given much is required.  And you’ve answered that call.  And as you’ve said, and so rightfully so, recognize so many other brave Coloradoans getting through just the day to day minutiae, but then those that go above and beyond and take that extra step and those extra — you know, go that extra mile.  And it is inspiring and I appreciate that.

STAPLETON:  Absolutely.  […]

WASDEN:  [What got you to that point of being an elected official.  You have a well-known family, a distinguished family, a well-respected family – but you didn’t just wake up in that position.]

STAPLETON:  Well, Jeff, I was fortunate enough to have a career and a skill set in the private sector.  Before I ran for Treasurer the first time, I ran a publicly traded real estate company that was successful and contintues to be successful, that we were able to take private.  It’s always better, I think, to have a private versus a public company, for a number of reasons, not the least of which being all the overhead and costs  associated with compliance issues and regulatory issues which are totally onerous on public companies, now, by the federal government.  But that notwithstanding, I — probably because of my family, I always saw public service as a really unique way to try and give back, and touch people’s lives, and impact them for the better, and follow through on my convictions and what I believe in.  So the reason I was attracted  to run for Treasurer and the reason I still enjoy serving as Treasurer of Colorado, is that I am particularly interested in the economic policy issues and how they affect our state, and how they impact people’s lives, and how they’re going to impact my kids’ lives, and their kids’ lives, and really, generations to come.  And I really believe that the decisions we make as far as fiscal policy issues are concerned, are absolutely critical to this state, whether it be the pensions system, how Colorado manages its budget, automatic ratchets in its budget, how we  deal with our spending, each and every year in this state.  Those  are the decisions that have a lot of consequence for the health of our state going forward.  And I really enjoy being a part of those decisions, and trying to at least show some leadership on the issues that I’m passionate about and that I care a lot about.  And there’s many of them – it’s not just the pension system.  How do we fund education, and how do we protect higher education when there’s one area of the budget that doesn’t have any constitutional protections built in.  How do we fund infrastructure in the state of Colorado.  How do we make sure that I-70 and I-25 North are well funded.  These are the issues that are going to be critical  for the state – not just for the next five years or ten years, but for generations to come.  And I’m excited, blessed, and fortunate to play a role in helping to make some of those decisions for the state.

WASDEN:  That’s well said.  I really appreciate that insight and that vision.  And I think that’s so critical as a leader, to understand the bigger picture of where we need to be. […]  Nominate a brave leader yourself.

STAPLETON:  There’s a lot of them.  I was thinking about that for a while, and I just – I could name dozens and dozens of people .  I’ll give you one anecdotal example of an individual that I am very impressed with,  and that is Steffan Tubbs at KOA  who most people who commute into work know of in Colorado, who does the morning show with April Zesbaugh.  One of Steffan’s paramount passions in life is his support of our military veterans.  And he has done countless different charitable works for our military veterans and WWII veterans and he’s currently working on a film on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that I found incredibly moving – the trailer for the film. Uh, I believed it’s called Acronym.  It’s going to be coming out on Veteran’s Day this year.  And he also did a documentary feature film called Drought Land, on eastern Colorado and the drought-like conditions that area of our state has faced.  And he really is committed to trying to educate people through his station in life as a media personality about important issues.  And I really salute that.  I think that he’s really following through on giving back to our community in powerful ways.  So–.

WASDEN:  I think that’s amazing. Steffan is a phenomenal leader and I do appreciate the work he does outside–this is our first media person that has been nominated.  So, we’ll have him conduct his own interview.  How’s that?

STAPLETON:  Fantastic.  I’m sure he’ll be good!