Gubernatorial candidate hopes to tap into large number of unaffiliated voters
When gubernatorial candidate Paul Fiorino waltzed through Aspen on Wednesday, it wasn’t his first trip to town.Fiorino performed at the Wheeler in the early days of the Aspen Dance Connection. During that summer in the late ’70s, he also dished up crêpes at what is now the Popcorn Wagon.Fiorino grew up in Parker and is now a resident of Brookvale, west of Evergreen. As an unaffiliated candidate, Fiorino is courting votes from those tired of party politics.”There are a lot of people who do not want to vote for a party,” he said. “They’re too polarizing, or [voters] see that they’re too in party line.”As of Oct. 18, there were more unaffiliated registered voters in Pitkin County than registered Democratic or Republican voters, according to the secretary of state’s Web site – a trend in Garfield, Eagle, Summit and Lake counties, as well. Fiorino sees that as a sign that people in those communities want someone to govern outside party politics, and he pledges to do so.”If I’m in office, we will break the seal of nonpartisan politics,” he said.
Amendment 44, which would legalize marijuana in Colorado, is just the sort of issue to allow that, he said.When asked if he’d ever smoked pot, Fiorino didn’t hesitate at all.”I grew up in the ’70s – are you kidding?” he said. Although he, like the candidates for Pitkin County sheriff, says he doesn’t use it now.”That’s responsible,” he said. “I don’t want someone drunk on the job, either.”Fiorino sees the marijuana topic as an opportunity to “start a discussion that other states will pick up on,” giving Colorado a chance to set an example for other states by tackling controversial issues in a nonpartisan way.”We’re a leading state,” he said. “We’re the most purple state in the union right now.”Although he said the marijuana discussion is an opportunity to transcend party politics, his real platforms are education, physical health and the environment. But party politics thwarts progress in every one of those areas, he said.
“We’ve got to have a healthy environment. That starts with recycling, but we can really [make progress] with renewable energy,” he said. “But again, if we have politics involved, we’re going to get hung up on it.”He sees the arts, dance in particular, as a means of reinvigorating education and health for the state’s population, as well.”We are facing a pandemic in obesity, not only in Colorado, but in the world,” he said. “And I believe dance is the answer – if people would just feel more at ease about movement.”Fiorino said he would use dance to emphasize physical education in schools and to “put creativity back into education.””We’ve taken the arts out of education,” he said, resulting in bored kids who struggle in all subjects.Fiorino criticized his Republican opponent, Rep. Bob Beauprez, for sponsoring an amendment to cut the National Endowment for the Arts by $30 million, a real concern for arts-supporting communities like those in the Roaring Fork Valley, he said.”That was a huge slap in the face to Colorado, to the arts community,” he said. “They’re devalued.”
He sees his experience in the arts as the appropriate background for encouraging people to work together.”The arts are total politics. … As a producer-director, I’m able to pull the best talent together, and we work together on either a program or policy,” he said. “There’s a great deal of talent to draw on in Colorado.”Does he think it’s idealistic to believe he can dance his way into the governor’s office with his background?”Absolutely,” he said. But that’s not the same as saying he’s not qualified.”I think I’m as capable as a DA or a congressman – and why not?” he said. “Give me the opportunity. You can always fire me.”Abigail Eagye’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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