The Democrat, who turns 69 on Wednesday, plans to petition onto the primary ballot to represent District 6, which includes La Plata, Montezuma, Archuleta, San Juan, Dolores, San Miguel, Ouray and Montrose counties. As of Tuesday, no other Democrat had entered the race.
If elected, Unger said he would focus on reducing carbon emissions, increasing funding for highways and other infrastructure, equalizing insurance premiums available through Connect for Health Colorado and funding programs to combat opioid abuse, among other priorities.
Funding infrastructure is key for businesses, and public funding – including gasoline taxes – has not kept up with the need, he said.
Those paying for individual insurance in Southwest Colorado through the state’s health exchange pay some of the highest rates in the country, and Unger would like to see those costs equalized across the state.
“Somebody has got to do something to try to get that under control,” he said.
He would like to look at requiring health insurance providers to sell plans at the same rate across the state.
To cut carbon emissions, Unger would like the state to take a phased approach to the renewable energy generation standards that companies have to meet so they could prepare to bring more renewables online by certain dates.
Carbon emissions in the transportation sector are likely to reduce as electric cars become more common, Unger said. He wants to make sure the state is ready by supporting the development of charging stations, which are currently prohibitively expensive for private businesses to invest in on their own.
Unger said the state should make sure there are adequate resources for residents seeking addiction treatment.
He also promised to promote Southwest Colorado to businesses in an effort to recruit better jobs to the area.
Unger billed himself as a candidate who can work with those from both parties, as well as those from urban and rural areas to get legislation passed.
“It’s all a question of how we do the best thing for the state of Colorado and not end up with that urban-rural split,” he said.
Unger graduated with a degree in electrical engineering from Rice University and worked at NASA for two years as part of the space shuttle design team. He has also owned three small businesses, including a software development firm. Most recently, Unger worked as a software consultant, managing large software implementations, and is currently retired.
In addition to his career in business, Unger served 28 years in the U.S. Army Reserve. If elected, he plans to resign his seat on the LPEA board.