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Governor Jared Polis (center) traveled to the UCCS campus to announce the appointment of Republican Ken Montera to the vacant seat on the University of Colorado Board of Regents that represents Colorado’s 5th Congressional District. Montera speaks after the announcement of the governor on Monday, Dec. 20, 2021. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)

Democratic Gov. Jared Polis had a chance to tip the scales of government more in the favor of his party, which controls Colorado’s legislature, both Senate seats and every other major statewide office. When then-University of Colorado Republican Regent Chance Hill resigned on Nov. 19 to move out of state, the governor assured us in writing he had no intention of making an appointment based on party affiliation.

Polis meant what he said. On Monday, he announced the appointment of Republican Ken Montera to replace Hill as the regent representing Colorado’s Fifth Congressional District, composed mostly of Colorado Springs.

“Ken is a great pick, a big CU supporter, and a legitimate Republican,” said Hill in a conversation with a Gazette editorial board member on Monday. “I know Ken well and we share a lot of the same views.”

That’s a meaningful reference because Hill defended academic freedom, religious liberty, and freedom of speech. He achieved equitable funding for the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, UC-Denver and the UC Anschutz Medical Campus – which regents typically shortchange in favor of the Boulder flagship campus.

The Gazette endorsed Montera when he ran for statewide regent-at-large in 2018 and lost to Democratic Regent Lesley Smith.

“Instructors have to know how critical it is to provide an educational forum that tolerates all views, so long as they are nonviolent,” Montera told us at the time.

Montera, a Pueblo native, has big shoes to fill. We trust he will use this opportunity as more than a futile minority vote against a Democratic majority. In an apolitical manner, he should use his vast executive business experience to inform, persuade, and change hearts and minds. He should help the Board of Regents put the rights, needs, and educational opportunities of students above all other concerns.

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