Election 2018News

Gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Cunningham wants a Denver version of Central Park

Author: Joey Bunch - February 9, 2018 - Updated: February 15, 2018

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Kathleen Cunningham for GovernorUnaffiliated gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Cunningham. (Photo courtesy of the campaign)

Kathleen Cunningham
Party: Unaffiliated
Age: 64
Hometown: downtown Denver
Occupation: Retired CPA
Family: Four siblings
Political experience: Independent and write-in races for president and governor since 2010

This is a weekly series by Colorado Politics to feature a wide range of candidates for governor to tell voters who they are as people before we plow into their politics in the weeks ahead.

If resiliency was political currency, Kathleen Cunningham would enjoy a fat bankroll in a crowded field running for governor this year.

She has been an announced or write-in candidate for governor or president repeatedly for a decade.

She considers herself part of the #MeToo movement and “a second-class citizen by virtue of being a female.”

Cunningham defends immigrants and wants to find a solution to stop sex-trafficking and homelessness. Protecting the environment, ensuring equality for all and providing universal health care for $100 a month are her top three priorities.

“I’m sickened by Hickenlooper,” she said of Gov. John Hickenlooper, the former Denver mayor who’s leaving office after his second and final term. “He had a 10-year plan for homelessness, and we still have a homelessness problems and a mental illness problem downtown.”

Cunningham hasn’t been a reliable teammate for either party.

“I tried to play with the Republicans,” she said of the 2016 presidential race. “I was a write-in for president as a Republican trying to flip the Clinton vote.”

Cunningham also ran without much luck for president in 2008 as a Democrat and 2012 in as unaffiliated.

She declared her candidacy for president for the 2016 race on Twitter, the same day Donald Trump announced he would run, too, Cunningham recalled. His campaign got more traction.

“Minor candidates just don’t get much time,” she said in a rare interview as a candidate.

Cunningham, a retired CPA, moved to Colorado in 1991. She grew in New Jersey dreaming of someday being the mayor of New York City. She lived in New York when she made the leap Out West, where two of her brothers lived.

“I went skiing,” she said of the draw. “I was a pretty good skier. I played softball when I first came out. I loved the weather.”

Her father was politically engaged in New Jersey. His parents came from Ireland and other relatives were involved in the Civil War and Revolutionary War, Cunningham said of her reasons for being so determined to serve.

Her positions, though, depend on the issue, not a party membership card, she indicates. And some of her ideas, neither party would touch.

Cunningham, for instance, would like to turn downtown Denver into the West’s Central Park by rerouting traffic.

She, for instance, supports a mandatory four-year college or mandatory non-combat peacekeeping service. Her solution to police brutality is to “draft” officers from respective communities for 3- or 4-year terms, with job placement and relocation after that.

Cunningham would like to move the U.S. Capitol back to New York City and locate it underground.

She also would turn the White House into a museum and immigration center, and create the Rose Lincoln First Ladies Museum, Library and Tea Room in the Old U.S. Post Office on Pennsylvania Avenue. Cunningham thinks tea rooms should be located in areas affected by natural disasters and economic distress with a high number of veterans.

“I believe in taking vacations in the U.S.A,” she continued. “I want baseball in all 50 states. I want the uniforms made out of cotton, and I want them to be made in the United States.”

That’s professional baseball, and you can include Puerto Rico and Guam.

Cunningham acknowledges her platform sounds better aimed at city government or Washington than the Gold Dome in Denver, but Cunningham counters, “You speak truth to power. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

How should a poor reporter describe her, then?

“It depends on what point of view you want to support,” she said of her varied partisan positions. “You can make the words say anything you want. As a Republican my neighbor would say I was very liberal, or that I was a Democrat or a socialist. But he wouldn’t vote for any Republican.”

Who will vote for Cunningham, then?

“I’d like to capture everybody’s vote,” she said.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.