First candidate emerges to replace term-limited Carroll in HD-7

Colorado capitol dome.

Colorado capitol dome.

The race is on.

Denver native Mark Mehringer told The Colorado Independent today that he will officially throw his hat in the ring next month to succeed longtime, but term-limited, state Rep. Terrance Carroll (D-Denver) in House District 7. Carroll will become speaker of the Colorado House next month when the 2009 legislative session convenes Jan. 7.

Mehringer, 33, hopes to capitalize on his deep community roots and political experience with the Denver Democratic Party to promote a campaign focused on capitalizing on the green jobs vogue.

“The area should be well-positioned for those kinds of jobs,” said Mehringer. “I don’t think any area is better-suited in terms of transportation than northeast Denver because the airport and I-70 and I-270 are right there for truck traffic.”

Abundant rail lines also play into the renewable energy jobs plan to transport massive wind power turbines that could be manufactured in the district, Mehringer says.

One thing that will be critical to the plan’s success is an educated workforce in an emerging industry, according to Mehringer. He said he hopes to to create partnerships with the community college system in nearby Aurora and high-school technology programs to build a highly trained labor pool to attract new green businesses.

Why announce his intentions to run now, a full 20 months before the 2010 election?

“Part of it is having a vision and being able to represent the area but also make a real difference,” he offered. “With the timing and economy and the opportunity that there’s going to be all this money spent on green jobs, if you don’t have somebody who understands these issues, we’re going to miss out.”

Mehringer, who is a professional pollster, explains that he is uniquely positioned to promote green jobs in the district because he’s extensively studied the subject to assist environmental clients on renewable energy, ethanol and political concerns.

In 2007, Mehringer held a three-month fellowship with the Center for Independent Media and wrote for The Colorado Independent’s prior incarnation, Colorado Confidential.com, where he covered the environmental and renewable energy beat.

The Stapleton resident said that he expects to have to raise in the range of $80,000 to $100,000 to run a competitive race that will surely attract several candidates for the seat which is open for the first time in eight years since Carroll was appointed to the seat by a vacancy committee in 2002.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of people who will have interest,” he admitted. “It will depend a lot on what happens with the replacement of Sen. [Ken] Salazar too. If it ends up being Mayor Hickenlooper who gets the seat … then suddenly you open up a mayoral election. And we’re still not through the [local] Obama appointments.”

Knowing that the forthcoming 2009 state legislative session will be challenging in the midst of a tanking national economy, Mehringer said that he’s hoping that the Democratic leadership will reach across the aisle to work in a bipartisan effort in tough times and in the event that the state suddenly becomes flush with federal infrastructure stimulus funding.

In either scenario, Mehringer says he’s equipped to enter the Legislature because, in the polling business, he’s accustomed to giving bad news.

“I’ve had plenty of clients who I worked for, someone who basically had no chance of winning but I did my best to let them know what their strengths and what what their weaknesses were. But you have to make some tough decisions sometimes,” he said. “That’s a part of life.”

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Wendy Norris

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