“I am running for a seat that has not been held by a Democrat in 28 years,” Hagan said at Wednesday’s luncheon at the San Sophia Bed and Breakfast. Hagan, who calls herself a “fiscal conservative” is running against Scott Tipton, a Republican from Cortez. Colorado’s District 58 spans across portions of Delta, Montrose, Ouray, San Miguel, Dolores, and Montezuma counties. “I have a tough job ahead of me.”
With the demographics of District 58 changing dramatically from town to town, and even county to county, Hagan told luncheon attendees that while there are a lot of differences in opinion, there are also a lot of common threads.
“I do care about water and energy issues tremendously,” she said. “I care about human issues tremendously. We have got to have a strong educational system and I would like to have an effect on health care. I think we have to cover more people and de-link healthcare from employment. We cannot fiscally handle the immense task of covering more people if we don’t control the cost of healthcare.”
Hagan touched on other issues facing the district, including under-funded schools in Dolores and the struggle to retain good teachers in Montrose. She added that sustainability is a “huge issue on a number of different fronts in our country” and in “western Colorado.”
Hagan has a long history of community involvement, including holding a seat on the Montrose City Council since 2000. She was elected Mayor of Montrose twice and was a member of the Montrose Library District Board of Directors for seven years, helping build Montrose’s new library.
“I am often asked what I am proudest of while being on city council,” said Hagan. “I spent a lot of time battling developers and trying to figure out ways to manage growth. I am proud of the fact that we invested in the downtown area while the big boxes were coming to Montrose. We were able to keep a vibrant downtown core.”
Hagan was also the president of the Montrose League of Women Voters and was the co-founder of Passage Charter School, a school designed for pregnant or parenting teens. This school, she said, is an accomplishment she is “most proud of.”
“Although I am not connected with the school any more, when I visit it, I have an immense feeling of having done something that will help one person at a time,” she said. “It did shape my attitudes toward problem solving and optimism about things that can be done.”
Hagan said her dedication to public service and hard work comes from her mother, who was raised in a farming family that faced hard times.
“Our family lost the farm during the Depression,” Hagan said. Her mother “used to collect junk and sell it to a junk man. Her dream was to go to the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She saved up all her money to go.” When her parents needed money for a mortgage, Hagan’s mother took her college savings and gave it to them instead of going to school, she said.
“I owe her so much. She is kind of like another person with me on the campaign trail,” Hagan said. “She has affected me so much with her determination and always believed that things could be better.”
Although details have not been worked out, a fundraiser is scheduled for Hagan in Telluride on Sept. 21 with Colorado Lt. Governor Barbara O’Brien.
“This year we are on the path toward some really important things in this state,” Hagan said. “We should take nothing for granted.”