Businessman Noel Ginsburg, a Democratic candidate for governor, makes his pitch to about 100 invited guests last week in the Greenwood Village home of Paul and Nancy Oberman. Photo by Peter Jones
BY PETER JONES
Less than a week after a gunman killed 17 people at a Florida high school, Noel Ginsburg stood squarely with the students who have seemingly started a movement in the tragedy’s wake.
“The gun lobby is incredibly powerful. It’s killing people in our nation,” the Democratic candidate for governor said. “And we should be—not behind these kids—we should be in front of them delivering the same message.”
Ginsburg, a Denver manufacturing and public-service executive, visited the Greenwood Village home of longtime friends Paul and Nancy Oberman on Feb. 20 for an informal meet-and-greet and a campaign stump that touched on a number of issues, but inevitably returned to gun violence.
“These young kids who are standing up to our country and speaking honestly, truthfully, passionately really tells me that the future generation is why we should all be hopeful,” the candidate told a group of about 100 people in the Landmark residences. “It should also be why we take responsibility for where the country is today because it’s what we’re leaving to them that really matters.”
Ginsburg, a self-described moderate and political outsider, is one hopeful in a field of Democrats—including U.S. Rep. Jared Polis and former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy—who are seeking their party’s gubernatorial nomination.
The first-time candidate, who has worked for both Democratic Govs. Roy Romer and John Hickenlooper, stressed the divisiveness and hyper-partisan nature of contemporary U.S. politics, particularly in context of the Trump administration.
“I never could have imagined that the last election could have brought our country where it is now,” the Democrat said. “But I can tell you I feel blessed and fortunate to be able to be running now. … There couldn’t be a more important time. There couldn’t be a time where I think our democracy is probably at greater risk than it is right now.”
Ginsburg presents himself as equal parts businessman and community activist. His resume boasts the founding of both a company called Intertech Plastics and CareerWise Colorado, a nonprofit paid-apprenticeship program designed to provide young workers with both valuable experience and debt-free college credits.
Event host Nancy Oberman and Morris Ginsburg, the candidate’s father, listen. Photo by Peter Jones
“It’s working for the businesses and it’s working for the students,” he said, noting he would plan to form a statewide version of the program, if elected.
Ginsburg has also chaired Mile High United Way and the Denver Public Schools Foundation. He was the founding chair of the Colorado I Have a Dream Foundation.
The businessman frequently returned to education, which he emphasized as grossly underfunded in Colorado. He said he would work to change what he characterized as the unintended consequences the Gallagher Amendment on property taxes and the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights, the voter-approved measure that limits the state and local governments’ ability to raise taxes and keep funding beyond prescribed levels without voter approval.
“[I support] keeping the right of people to vote on new taxes but stripping out from underneath it everything else. It has taken billions out of our state budget for our roads, our bridges, our schools,” Ginsburg said. “… If there’s any candidate that tells you they’re for education, but isn’t willing to tackle it in that way, I don’t know how they’re actually going to make a difference.”
The candidate stressed that nearly half of the state’s school districts can no longer afford to operate five days a week.
“As a governor, I don’t want anybody to forget that reality,” he said. “If we don’t make an investment in our young people, the consequences to our democracy, to our state, to our competitiveness, but most importantly to those young kids is fateful.”
The Colorado native discussed his own education, as well as gaining his own early taste for manufacturing in his father’s onetime pickle plant.
Ginsburg eventually transferred from brined cucumbers to plastics after writing a business plan as part of an independent study in college.
“Every time you see a Koala baby-changing station, think of Noel for Governor because we made that,” the candidate said with a laugh.
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