John Scarffe, Nederland. The large crowd at the Rocky Mountain Oyster Bar cheered when Nederland Mayor Kristopher Larsen announced his candidacy for Colorado’s Second Congressional District at about 6:20 p.m. on Friday October 6, 2017.
Larsen, a democrat, said he wanted to kick off his campaign in Nederland because this is his home.
U.S. Representative Jared Polis, a Boulder Democrat, currently holds the seat, but he has announced he is running for governor and not seeking re-election to Congress. Larsen will be running against a large field of Democrats, including Joe Neguse, Howard Dotson and Mark Williams, Libertarian Todd Mitchem and Independent Nicholas Thomas.
The Second Congressional District includes all or parts of Broomfield, Clear Creek, Eagle, Gilpin, Grand, Jefferson, Larimer, Park and Summit counties and Boulder County except the northeast Longmont area.
“This is a big leap I’m taking,” Larsen said. He was born and raised in Boulder and Lafayette, and his parents, Jim and Candace Larsen, attended the announcement. Larsen said they have been here with their support through all the years. A fascination with space led Larsen into science.
He graduated from Fairview High School and went to the University of Colorado to study physics and astrophysics. He earned his Ph.D. in planetary sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.
Larsen then returned to Colorado as a research scientist at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. He took a break from research to work on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., specializing in science education policy, federal research funding and community organizing to involve physicists in policy, according to his Facebook page.
Larsen has served as Nederland Mayor since April 2016 and was on the Nederland Board of Trustees from 2006 to 2008 and from 2014 to 2016, on the Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Advisory Board from 2005 to 2006 and on the Planning Commission from 2011 to 2014, chairman from 2013 to 2014.
Larsen said the catalyst for him running for office was the November 8 election, and he thought, “We have to do something.”
He has been thinking about running for years, but the timing is right now. He had to get support and assemble his campaign team by October 1.
Larsen’s term as Mayor ends in April. He said that by February he will know whether he is getting enough support to continue in the race.
Larsen asked the crowd at the Rocky Mountain Oyster bar why he is going to go around this very large district talking to thousands of people. “The time is right, and we need data driven decisions in Washington, D.C.”
As mayor, Larsen led the Town of Nederland in signing the Paris Agreement resolving to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet the goals set by the international community under the agreement. He also has aggressively addressed climate change.
The Town of Nederland will transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2025 after the Nederland Board of Trustees passed a resolution making Nederland the fourth city in Colorado and the 42nd city in the United States to make this commitment in August 2017. Larsen said he wants to thank those who have worked hard on that.
Another project started two years ago. Town employees couldn’t afford to live in Nederland. “You can’t live on $30,000 a year. It took us two years, but we got there with a living wage for Town employees.
“I’m going to Washington, D.C.,” Larsen said, and the crowd cheered. His number one priority will be climate change. “We have to be aggressive about it.”
Larsen said that Jared Polis introduced legislation to make the United States 100 percent renewal by 2050. “We need more people in Congress who think this is our priority. This is our existential threat,” said Larsen, listing the recent hurricanes.
According to his website, his legislative goals will be to initiate an ‘Apollo’ project to transition away from fossil fuels, require oil and gas companies to map and disclose all pipelines, require fracking companies to disclose the exact composition of their fracking fluids, eliminate all exploration and development subsidies for oil and gas, aggressively grow public transportation, particularly RTD light rail to Boulder and Longmont, and invest in research, development and construction of the next-generation power grid and electrical storage infrastructure.
His number two priority will be health care. ”We need comprehensive health care for all Americans, including mental health,” Larsen said.
“It is reprehensible that the United States, the wealthiest country in the history of mankind, allows millions of its citizens to go without basic healthcare,” states his website. “That we encourage corporations to make profits off the suffering and illness of others, often bankrupting them and destroying lives, is unacceptable.”
His legislative goals are to implement universal single payer health care, ensure that all Americans have access to comprehensive health care, including eye, dental and mental health services, require that drugs developed from federally funded research are provided at an affordable cost, ban the practice of predatory pricing by drug companies for life-saving medication and allow for re-importation of prescription drugs to reduce costs.
Public lands are Larsen’s number three priority. He listed the wilderness areas nearby and said they are under threat and trying to be sold off to mining and logging interests.
“Our National Parks, Forests, Monuments and Wilderness Areas are a common resource held in trust for future generations,” states the website. “They are also under threat from those that seek to sell them off, drill in them for oil, mine them for uranium and in any other way destroy them for short-term profit.
“Instead of seeing these lands as a resource to monetize, we must protect them as the critical habitats both for ourselves, future generations and the wildlife that call them home,” according to his website. His legislative goals are that national parks, wilderness areas and monuments should never be sold or developed for commercial use, funding for the forest service should be increased to account for the increased use and impacts in the urban-forest boundaries, implement migration greenways to connect significant wildlands and federally fund forest mitigation efforts to reduce dangers due to catastrophic forest fires.
Larsen’s fourth priority is that basic democracy is under threat due to money in politics. We should overturn Citizens United and get the money out of politics where average Americans can run for office.
His legislative goals are to overturn Citizen’s United, reduce the role of fundraising in campaigns through a public option, require electronic voting systems software to be open-source and provide a human-verifiable vote record and reinstitute protections in the voting rights act.
“I’m not up here just saying I was born in Boulder,” Larsen said. “I have a skill set to bring to it. It’s good to have lawyers, but I bring a different skill set – scientist skills, and that’s why I’m running.”
Larsen intends to spend hundreds of hours driving all over the massive district, and he also wants help. Throw a house party, and he will come out and speak. It’s a grassroots movement.
“I won’t say no to money. It’s an expensive thing to run. I want to go to D.C. and fight for these values. If I get there and it’s all republicans, I can’t do anything. Not only elect me but provide a congress that will stop what’s going on.”
Larsen’s official website is at www.LarsenForColorado.com, and he invites everyone to visit. “While you’re there you can read more about why I think the time is right to elect scientists to Congress and bring evidence-based data-driven policy to D.C.”