WINDSOR — The first election Windsor teen Hunter Rivera participates in may well be one he will never forget.
The 17-year-old, Windsor Charter Academy Early College High School senior intends to cast his first official vote for himself.
Rivera is running for Windsor Mayor, a position he said he’s qualified for and one he believes he can perform just as well as his older opponents.
“I’ve lived in Windsor my entire life,” Rivera said. “I understand how to pass legislation. I understand Robert’s Rules (of Order), so I can run a council. And I’m a people person, so I’m able to go to people and listen to them and take their ideas and really kind of champion that.”
Meeting with people in his signature suit with an American flag tie and a white ball cap — also with an American Flag — that reads: “Rivera 4 Mayor 2020,” is one of the main things Rivera has done since launching his campaign about a month ago. He’s met with members of both the Weld County and Larimer County Commissioners. He’s met with Sen. John Cooke, R-Greeley and Weld County Councilwoman Tonya Van Beber. He’s also met with current Windsor Town Board members. He said they’ve all been very helpful in giving him tips and tricks to running for public office.
He is also holding meet and greets and getting out to talk to town residents as often as he can.
According to the Windsor Town Charter, the qualifications for Mayor are:
- United States citizen.
- A registered voter in Windsor.
- A resident of the town for the 12 months preceding the election.
Rivera meets — or will meet — all the requirements by election day. He turns 18 on March 30, 2020, and the election is just eight days later on April 7. If elected, Rivera will be leading one of Colorado’s fastest-growing communities before he even graduates from high school.
“I support that growth,” he said. “But we need to be able to do that in a responsible way and control it in a way that we can have the necessary assets here to support that, such as schools, roads, police and fire.”
Rivera chose mayor over a town board position because his district is not open for election until 2022, and he wants to hit the ground running now. He said his work on his school’s student council, as well as an opportunity to attend Boy’s State last summer made him realize his desire to enter public service.
Boy’s State is a summer leadership program ran by the American Legion. According to the website, participants, who are nominated by their high schools, learn “the rights, privileges and responsibilities of franchised citizens. The training is objective and centers on the structure of city, county and state governments. Operated by students elected to various offices, Boys State activities include legislative sessions, court proceedings, law-enforcement presentations, assemblies, bands, choruses and recreational programs.”
Rivera said his Roman Catholic upbringing and beliefs guide him in how he chooses to lead his life and make his decisions. It reinforces his beliefs in a strong economy and doing the right thing, he said.
He is running his campaign on those beliefs as well, adding he is a strong supporter of the oil and gas industry, the Constitution and government transparency.
“There are two ways to see the Constitution, “he said. “It’s a set-in-stone document or it’s a flexible document. I think the founding fathers wrote it with the intent that they meant, such as with the Second Amendment. The need to bear arms will hold forever because we need to bear arms to protect ourselves from the government and others.”
Revenue from oil and gas production “makes up the majority of the (fire and police) budget,” he said. “So, protecting oil and gas is probably our No. 1 concern. That is something that we need to protect at all cost. That is what makes Northern Colorado right now.”
He said he has always made sure that student council — of which he is president — is open and honest, and he will carry that to the Windsor Town Board as well.
“Anybody can walk into the room and know exactly what we are doing,” he said about the student council. “Anybody can see what we did a year ago. Anybody can see what we are doing today. Anybody can see what we did a week ago.”
His priorities if elected include:
- Expanding infrastructure to keep up with Windsor’s growth, including improving roads.
- Bringing in new commercial and industrial businesses.
- Growing responsibly.
- Supporting town departments to better do their jobs.
“This past year we lost $8 million in our budget,” he said. “We need to balance that while also giving departments the resources they need to be able to operate. The police department is eight officers understaffed and they just don’t have the money to hire them. That is one thing I want to address.”
He is not intimidated by those that think he’s too young, although he does say he thinks raising money to fund his campaign will be more challenging because of his age. However, he’s determined and motivated.
“Youth is something we need in politics at all levels,” he said. “Having that voice and that opinion is good. Having many different opinions and many different perspectives is a good thing to have.”