Editor’s Note: Denise Burgess suspended her campaign for senate on September 19, just four days after getting into the race.
Resume: President and CEO of Burgess Services, a construction management firm; Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce board chair
Give me your 30-second elevator pitch: Why are you running?
Denise Burgess: The reason I’m running is because for the last year—as a business owner, a voter, a supporter of [the] Democratic Party, and as a parent—I kept hearing it’s about beating someone. And I wanted to hear someone representing Colorado. I’m a candidate that’s doing this because I am of service. I’ve had my career being of service, and it’s about representing the people of Colorado. So that is the main reason for me running. I want to make sure that we address things like the agricultural industry, how they are being impacted by the tariffs. Education. We’re at a four-day school week in the rural communities, which is unacceptable to me. And making sure, of course, that health choice is for everyone and what that looks like, and making sure it is affordable and does not break the budget for a family.
What sets you apart from the other Democratic Party candidates?
I’m a current business owner and I’m in the trenches with everybody else in Colorado.…I’m not a legislator. I’m not a career politician. I’m a person who’s had to meet payroll, who understands what it means to choose between paying a health care premium and paying a light bill. So I get it, and I think that differentiates me from everyone else in the race.
What is your top policy priority?
It’s health care. That’s what I hear the most as I talk to people. You can’t have an educated work force if they’re sick. You just can’t. You can’t have an educated student if they’re sick, if they’re going to school sick. I’m a Baby Boomer. I’m a mother of a Millennial. I’m a daughter of the Greatest Generation. And I have to deal with, not only my health care situation, but their health care situations, too. So I think it just dominates right now and it shouldn’t. It should be something that is just a way of life and how we deal with it should make it common sense and make it practical, but also make it affordable.
How would you ensure Colorado’s interests are met in Washington, D.C.?
Being a contractor, being in the construction industry, I’m used to making sure my clients’ interests are always met. When I build something, it has to be built a certain way and function. I feel the same way about being a senator, if I’m fortunate enough. I [will] make sure I listen to my constituents. I’ll make sure we represent Colorado, make sure that we stand by our principles as Coloradans. We’re an independent state—we really are. We make sure we take care of our own….That’s the attitude I’ll go to Washington, D.C. with.
How would you work with an increasingly divided Senate?
I think you have to make sure that you are knowledgeable, understand the situation that you’re in—[the] divided senate—which means that you’re going to have to reach across the aisle. It means that not every Republican will be my enemy, and I don’t go in lockstep with every Democratic idea. It means finding that middle ground, that Colorado is represented, and also that we make sure that we work together to get something done. Division does not lead to solution, and I’m solution based. I want us to make sure we create a solution while we’re in the senate.
What is something voters might not know about you?
I think most business leaders and community leaders are pictured a certain way or expected to act a certain way. I’m a Christian and I’m very proud of being a Christian. I lead my life and I lead my business with compassion and understanding. And I try to do it through that lens and I think most people as they get to know me will learn that, but they won’t know it right off the bat.
Now for the lightning round….Pick one:
Broncos or Rockies?
I-25 or I-70?
National Western Stock Show or a show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre?
National Western Stock Show
Coors Banquet beer or a Colorado craft brew?
Colorado craft brew
Hike a fourteener or raft the Arkansas River?
Raft the Arkansas River
Fall foliage or wildflower season?
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve or Rocky Mountain National Park?
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Wyoming or Utah?
Editor’s note: Responses have been edited for length and clarity. This interview was conducted in September, after the initial publication of this package.