If not now, then when?

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John F. Kennedy once said, “Today our concern must be with the future. For the world is changing. The old era is ending. The old ways will not do.” The same is true today — the politics of the past have failed us, and it’s time to create the politics of the future, right here at home in Colorado’s 2nd District. That’s what my campaign for Congress is all about.

My name is Mark Williams, and I’m a Democratic candidate in the June 26 primary. I’m not a career politician.  I served our country as a fighter pilot in the Gulf War, an intelligence officer in the USAF Reserves, and I’ve been involved in Boulder’s tech community for the past 15 years. I came to Colorado in 1994 to attend Naropa University and after experiencing the impact of the 2016 election on my daughters, my community and my country, I decided to step forward and get involved.

My hope for renewal in American politics begins here. Citizen candidates committed to service, not self, must rise up and lead the way to remove a political class that puts party above community and country. This campaign has a vision for something new — a politics born of the moral courage that speaks truth to power and that leads with the honesty and optimism that are America at its best.

People are cynical about our politics and really, who can blame them? The game has been rigged against ordinary people like you and me. Republicans and Democrats alike have listened to lobbyists, served the powerful, and protected the interests of the privileged few.  No wonder most millennials and many Americans feel the system is hopelessly broken. When Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet combined are wealthier than the bottom 50 percent of Americans, there’s not much to debate.  And it’s killing our country.

This isn’t a partisan issue; it’s an American issue, threatening the very heart of our democracy and liberty itself. For my campaign, it’s not enough to resist a reckless president and a rigged economy held in place by a corrupt election finance system. I’m running a race without donations from D.C. insiders, PACs, special interests or lobbyists. In today’s political climate, it takes a profound lack of imagination -— or arrogance — to campaign using the broken playbook of the past. Here in the 2nd District, we can put this kind of tired game to rest by walking the talk that gets dirty money out of politics.

Our district is a special one, hands down one of the most progressive districts in the country. We’re blessed with grassroots activists, two powerhouse universities, a startup culture of innovation and creativity, and nationally recognized brands in Boulder and Fort Collins. We can lead the country forward with a vision of a hopeful future that restores our faith in government. If we “re-knit” the urban, rural, agricultural and mountain communities in our district, we show all of America that politics of the people, by the people, and for the people is a reality, not a dream.

I support three initiatives that define a bold, progressive agenda for our district and our country:

1) Level the playing field for working folks. We fight for Improved Medicare for All, banning assault weapons, strong paid family and medical leave legislation and other progressive policies. We’ll fight against legislation that continues to favor the 1 percent, big corporations, Wall Street and too-big-to-fail banks.

2) Invest in peace, not war. We bring our troops back from Afghanistan and shrink the defense budget so we can invest in our communities here at home.

3. Protect the planet. We ban fracking, accelerate the transition to renewables, remove subsidies from the fossil fuel industry, and invest big in the next generation of renewable technologies and jobs.

My call is to those who seek renewal and a re-imagining of a nation in service to its people. One with leaders who listen to ordinary folks and protect the interests of the people they represent. I will serve you, your family, our community, and our country first and foremost. This is my contract with the voters and my sacred promise to you.

These times demand courageous hearts and our boldest imagination. If not here, where? If not now, when?

This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.