Uber driver Casper Stockham ran for Congress and lost last year, but he hasn’t lost sight of a campaign promise to help build up Five Points around the families who settled there.
A first-timer, Stockham didn’t know enough about campaigning, how to get his message out and how to raise the millions of dollars in local and national support to knock off a well-financed incumbent, Diana DeGette, in a safely drawn Democratic district in Denver. Predictably, he got about 28 percent of the vote.
But there’s not much you can teach Stockham about the challenges of the inner city or question his devotion to helping solve them. He ran last year on the promise to help make Five Points great again, but great for the existing businesses and nearby neighborhoods that made it great the last time around, rather than pricing them out by catering to outside money and redevelopment.
I wasn’t surprised, then, to get a statement of his beliefs about the ink! coffee shop controversy and gentrification.
Stockham says there are solutions to allow gentrification balanced against opportunities to preserve and strengthen traditional neighborhoods. He said local officials and the government system have failed to do that.
“If the protesters win, we lose a viable business in the community. If the winds of gentrification win, we lose diverse communities that the city was built upon,” he said. “Gentrification without community opportunity has citizens at odds with the very same policies and political leaders they vote for year after year.
“Gentrification never affects healthy communities, so a healthy community should be the focus.”
He added, “We must address the problem, not the symptoms.”
Stockham said if he was governor — could he run? — he would release a five-point plan “that would provide real solutions to problems in the inner city and rural communities, like high unemployment, high crime, homelessness, sex trafficking and the lack of access to resources and prosperity.”
Here’s his plan:
- “Identify a community solutions director and staff.”
- “Identify organizations and resources that are already doing good work.”
- “Work with local community leaders who want to see real positive change.”
- “Create Empowerment Purpose Centers in the inner city and rural areas.”
- “Remove government red tape that would stop any of the above from happening.”
On his website, Stockham hints, “The 2018 gubernatorial race in Colorado is going to come down to big money on the left or right and we the people. We can choose the status quo and see very little to no change for the better or We The People can choose to move our state forward in a positive and beneficial way!”
To jump in the governor’s race at this point– with eight mostly better-known Republicans already in –would be futile, but nobody has ever accused Casper Stockham of being afraid of long odds. Good candidates who run and lose too often, however, have a hard time getting traction and money when the time is right.
An Air Force veteran, good speaker and an effortlessly likable person, Stockham has something to offer the public discourse from a working man’s conservative point of view. I ran into him at the Western Conservative Summit this summer and asked if he was thinking about any races a few notches down from Congress or perhaps in a district where a Republican has a sporting chance. He said he wouldn’t aim low, whatever he does next.
If he runs for something and makes promises, he wants to be able to deliver and make a real difference.