Gubernatorial running mate visits Valley

ALAMOSA — As a cancer survivor, health care is an important issue for Lieutenant Governor Candidate Dianne Primavera who met with local residents on Thursday at the Alamosa County Democrats’ office.

The running mate to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis, Primavera shared her background, priorities and vision during the Alamosa gathering. Primavera has a San Luis Valley connection, as her brother Doug was district attorney in the Valley in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

Dianne Primavera, 68, said she was honored to be running with Polis, a long-time friend and fellow legislator when Primavera served in the state house. Most recently she had been serving as the CEO of Susan G. Komen Colorado but resigned to campaign full time.

A Colorado native, Primavera said she was bitten by the public servant bug when she heard John Kennedy say “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” She worked with people with disabilities most of her career “to help them overcome the handicaps their disability creates and be self sufficient.”

She added, “I have always worked for Colorado families, to give them better opportunities to succeed.”

In 1988 she was hit hard with a terminal breast cancer diagnosis and told by every doctor she consulted that she would not live five years. During her health crisis she also lost her job, health care coverage and marriage and was left raising her 3- and 5-year-old children on her own. With support of family and friends, she made it through — and beat cancer.

With her children grown and concerned about events in the country, Primavera walked into her local Democratic Party headquarters one day and asked what she might do to help. She had never been involved in politics but began attending meetings and caucuses and before she realized it, she was a candidate herself, running against an incumbent Republican for a state house seat. Although she did not win her first campaign for the House District 33 seat she did win in 2006 and again in 2008 and served in the state house with Ed Vigil from the San Luis Valley. Although she lost the 2010 election she won again in 2012 and 2014 and did not seek re-election in 2016.

She chaired the Public Health Care and Human Services Committee and served on the Health Insurance and Environment Committee, which were especially important to her, given her own health history. She also served on veteran, audit and transportation/energy committees.

Primavera said she would be happy to return to the capitol as lieutenant governor “and work on issues that make a difference in people’s lives.”

When asked about her solutions for health care, Primavera said, “First of all, it has to be more affordable.”

She said it is also important to attract more providers in rural areas.

“Both Jared and I believe health care is a human right,” she said. “We can’t afford to do nothing.”

One solution she and Polis might pursue, she said, would be for Colorado to explore working with other states in a multi-state group insurance to broaden the risk pool and lower rates.

Addressing the issues of water, agriculture and the environment, Primavera said she recognized water is the lifeblood here, and with a third of the jobs being agriculturally related, it is an important focus. She said Polis wants to move towards more renewable energy in Colorado.

Having been on the State Board of Education, Polis is also passionate about education, Primavera said. One goal is to fund statewide full-day kindergarten, for example. She said Polis believes there is money in the general fund right now that could start that process. Another funding avenue, she explained, would be to issue social impact bonds, attracting people to invest in funding for the common good.

Vigil was present for the gathering with Primavera and gave her his full support. He said he could attest to her being an advocate for health care and being someone who tried to find solutions instead of just focusing on problems. She is also a champion for the people of Colorado, he said.

He added, “She’s willing to listen.”

Captions: With the Democrats’ “blue wave” banner behind her, Lieutenant Governor Candidate Dianne Primavera speaks to area residents at the Alamosa County Democrats' office./Courier photo by Ruth Heide

State Representative Donald Valdez visits with former State Representative and current Lieutenant Governor Candidate Dianne Primavera during a gathering with the candidate in Alamosa.