Resume: Lecturer at the University of Colorado Denver; scientist; former lead researcher and program director at the Stanford Center for Undiagnosed Diseases; former lead coordinator for a Colorado STEM research initiative
Give me your 30-second elevator pitch: Why are you running?
Trish Zornio: I am running for the United States Senate because I believe we truly can achieve a 21st-century society that we have not yet done. Everything from the economy to health care to education. I believe the way that we can achieve it is to include people from a scientific and technological background—which I am—at that table for discussion to make sure we are creating full and robust policies. We need to make sure scientists are included. So many of these issues require scientific and technological experience, so we’re going to have to have someone like myself at the table.
What sets you apart from the other Democratic Party candidates?
I am the only one who has a background specifically in science, but especially in health care and education. You have almost nobody who has direct experience in health care and education. Voters are extremely interested in addressing everything from climate change to fixing our health-care system to getting a better education, and what better way to address these topics than to include someone who has those backgrounds and expertise?
What is your top policy priority?
Addressing our changing climate has to be at the top. It’s the defining issue of our generation.
How would you ensure Colorado’s interests are met in Washington, D.C.?
Specifically concerning climate, health care, and education, I would ensure that we are transitioning to a fully renewable economy, and make sure Colorado is at the helm of that. That includes a transition to being a leading producer of wind and solar energy, but also hemp manufacturing and production—that’s one I’m interested in doing.
I’m also particularly interested in making sure the cost of health care in Colorado drops precipitously. Rural communities are impacted by costs. I’d like to see us have comprehensive health care: mental health, dental, vision. I also like to champion the fact that Colorado has one of the largest millennial populations and student debt is holding us back as a generation. I would like to not only address the student debt crisis but also address the rising cost of college at large so we prevent [student debt] in the future.
How would you work with an increasingly divided Senate?
This is actually part of the reason I’ve been working on not just one, but multiple, 64-county tours. I grew up in a place that was extremely rural, small, and conservative. My entire family actually voted for Trump, to the best of my knowledge. The biggest issue I’m seeing is a rural–urban divide, more than anything else. I want Coloradans to know that, whether or not you agree with me and my policies, I will still fight for you. I will make sure we are working with people when we can—bringing people to the table to make sure their voice is being heard whether or not they agree with us. We will still be fighting for everyone.
What is something voters might not know about you?
My grandparents on my father’s side had probably about a 6th-grade education and that’s why they came here. We very much had to work our way up. They wanted their children to have a better life. I started babysitting, probably, when I was about 10 and got my first job at Burger King, of all places. In a small town, it was the only option. I worked for several years to save up and then I was able to buy my own car and go to college—and not too long after that I was able to work at Stanford University School of Medicine. It’s a pretty big jump from where I came from.
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?
Coors Banquet Beer or a Colorado craft brew?
Colorado craft brew
Hike a fourteener or raft the Arkansas River?
Hike a fourteener
Fall foliage or wildflower season?
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve or Rocky Mountain National Park?
Rocky Mountain National Park
Wyoming or Utah?
Editor’s note: Responses have been edited for length and clarity.