Two Highlands Ranch Republicans are facing off in the party’s June 30 primary for the University of Colorado Board of Regents seat that represents the 6th Congressional District.
The board consists of nine members: one from each of Colorado’s seven congressional districts and two from the state at large. It oversees CU’s four campuses — Boulder, Colorado Springs, Denver and the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora — and controls their budgets.
The two Republican contestants are Priscilla Rahn and Richard Murray. The winner will face Democrat Ilana Spiegel in November’s general election. Incumbent Regent John Carson, a Highlands Ranch Republican elected in 2014, is not seeking a second term. Ballots were being mailed to voters starting June 8.
The 6th Congressional District includes Centennial, Aurora, Highlands Ranch, Littleton, Greenwood Village, Brighton and northern Thornton, among other nearby areas.
Colorado Community Media submitted these questions to the candidates.
City, town or area of residence: Highlands Ranch
Profession: Teacher, small-business owner
Campaign website address: www.rahnforcuregent.com
What makes you the best choice for this office?
As a nationally recognized 26-year veteran teacher, principal, athlete, coach, adjunct faculty and small-business owner, I have the experience to support teaching, learning, academic and sports culture. My master’s degree in education administration equipped me to manage education systems. My mother is Korean, and my father is black and an Army vet. I grew up living all over the world, and I understand the diversity of constituents living in CD6 because of the large immigrant population and military base. Finally, as a major supplier of thousands of students to CU, I know what it takes to prepare high schoolers for the rigor of college.
What single issue do you think should be at the top of the CU Board of Regents’ agenda in 2021?
The issue that should be at the top of the CU Board of Regents’ agenda is how to safely and affordably deliver the same high-quality instruction to all students. Remote learning does not give students the same level of instruction as in-person learning. Students attend CU because they want a traditional college experience and they want to have access to the best level of instruction and resources. They also want to build strong relationships with their professors who should, in turn, build a bridge between students’ graduation and a great job.
If elected, what must you accomplish for you to consider your term a success?
Focusing on meaningful, measurable results is a CU Regent Guiding Principle that I am committed to supporting. I would work with K-12 school districts to increase postsecondary access to CU and to support the (Colorado Department of Higher Education) and (CU) President Mark Kennedy’s goal to decrease the graduation gap by increasing the graduation and retention rate of minority and low-income students and increase credential completion to 66% by 2025. I would also feel successful if we could increase educator-preparation credentialing while simultaneously ensuring that the education preparation experience is current and relevant to meet the needs of students in Colorado.
What’s one recent CU Board of Regents decision that you disagreed with, and why?
Colorado is experiencing difficult financial decisions, and we want students to afford tuition at CU. I’m glad the CU Board of Regents decided to freeze tuition for the second year in a row, but I would be in support of lowering tuition and fees. I think it’s important for the regents to be open to taking a second look at tuition costs if we see that students need more help. John Carson has made great decisions during his tenure on the board, and I would continue to work hard to make great financial decisions on behalf of CU and our students.
How do you hope to make a difference in the everyday lives of students on all CU campuses?
My first priority is the safety of all students on campus. Second, students should receive a high-quality and rigorous academic experience. Finally, I want to ensure students’ freedom of speech is protected and that they have the opportunity to think and share ideas in a stimulating way. When I was a college student at TCU, I was president of Kappa Delta Pi (Education Honor Society) and an officer in the Texas State Student Association. Clubs, organizations, student boards and sports provide students with social connections, develop community awareness and increase pride in their college.
Campaign website address: www.murrayforcuregent.com
Experience. I know CU, and I know how it works. I am a two-time alumnus of CU Boulder, where I earned my undergraduate and law degrees. While at CU, I served as student body president of the entire campus. I worked closely with the administration on key issues facing students and CU. I have kept strong ties to CU and currently chair the CU Law Alumni Board, working on issues of tuition costs, scholarships and job placement. As the product of public education, I understand the importance of, and will fight for, high quality, affordable and accessible public education.
In the face of COVID-19, the financial well-being of the CU system and the financial impact on its students should be the highest priority for the 2020-21 school year. Fortunately, tuition costs will remain flat for a second year for most CU students, but the COVID-19 pandemic could cause CU to lose more than $1 billion in revenue. The board needs to work closely with the administration on solutions to weather this storm so CU comes out more innovative, more efficient and stronger. I’ve overseen multimillion-dollar budgets and I am prepared to get to work on day one.
CU provided me with the foundation for everything I am today. But, like most universities in the U.S., it came with a significant price tag. Although tuition is not increasing next year, it will naturally need to be adjusted as time passes if measures are not taken to address fiscal inefficiencies in the system. As a regent, I will roll up my sleeves and work to identify areas where savings can be made to ease the financial burden on the next generation of our students. Also, the Buffs winning the Rose Bowl is an achievement I want to happen.
The board recently made significant progress on civics education, requiring an annual report on civics literacy. However, the board held back on making civics a graduation requirement. Our republic needs its citizenry to be well-educated on civics and the rights of the people, and how our republic should operate. A student graduating with a degree from a world-class university should have a basic literacy in civics. If geography is a minimum graduation requirement, then a college-level civics course should be too. Also, I look forward to working collaboratively with all regents to reach the best results for CU.
Each campus is unique, with its own culture, specialty programs and student body, which together make the CU system stronger. We need to foster an environment where all students are safe and in an environment where they are able to learn, grow and become our next generation of leaders. But we cannot achieve that without students being able to afford to attend CU. I hope to make a difference on all of these fronts so that when students graduate, they are prepared for the next chapter in their lives and not crushed by student loan debt.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the incumbent in the 6th District CU regent seat. That has been corrected here.
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