DENVER – The candidates for governor stepped up and addressed some tough mental health policy issues at Mental Health Colorado’s gubernatorial forum on Friday, March 23.

Four hundred people and nine candidates attended the event. The candidates included: Stephen Barlock (R), Cynthia Coffman (R), Lew Gaiter (R), Mike Johnston (D), Greg Lopez (R), Donna Lynne (D), Vic Mitchell (R), Doug Robinson (R), and Erik Underwood (D).

Former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy (D) was slated to attend but was sick. And U.S. Congressman Jared Polis (D) was stuck in Washington, D.C. after voting late the night before on a budget bill.  Both sent policy staffers to give brief statements on their support of mental health programs and services for Coloradans. State Treasurer Walker Stapleton (R) declined the invitation to participate.

Moderator, Denver7’s Theresa Marchetta, presented questions ranging from school mental health services, to taxes for mental health and substance use programs, and extreme risk protection orders.

All nine candidates agreed that Colorado should have an extreme risk protection order law. That law would allow authorities to temporarily take guns away from a person who is a danger to themselves or others. Mental Health Colorado is proposing this to state lawmakers this session.

Another question asked at the forum: Would you support state or local tax measures dedicated to mental health care? Gaiter, Johnston, Lynne, and Underwood said yes. Lopez said yes, if the citizens voted.  Barlock, Coffman, Mitchell, and Robinson said no.

“Put nine candidates on a stage together, and you might not expect them to agree at all. But when it comes to improving mental health care, we found at least two points of consensus: Colorado ought to make it harder for people who pose a danger to themselves or others to get guns—and easier for them to get treatment,” said Andrew Romanoff, President and CEO of Mental Health Colorado.

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