FRISCO — Dr. Charlie Winn is hoping to provide area residents with a new point of view based on his years of experience living around the world, and serving as a Navy doctor and longtime physician.
Winn is running to become the new U.S. House representative for Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District, encompassing much of the north-central part of the state including Summit, Grand, Clear Creek, Gilpin, Larimer and Broomfield counties as well as parts of Boulder, Eagle, Jefferson, Park and Weld counties.
Winn, a Republican, will seek to unseat incumbent Democrat Joe Neguse, who was elected to his first term in the position in 2018. But first, he says residents and politicians will have to rise above their partisan biases and work together to bring meaningful changes to Washington.
Bridging a national divide
In a district that has been solidly blue since 1975 — Don Brotzman was the last Republican to be elected into the role in 1967 — Winn says it’s about convincing residents of the left-leaning region to open themselves up to new ideas.
“I saw division in this country like I’d never seen before,” Winn said about his decision to enter the race. “We’ve been through crises before. My father told me about World War II, and even in worse times we came together as a people. I’ve been through tough times myself. In Vietnam, we were certainly divided as a country, but even then we came together and went to the moon.
“I’m seeing now that we can’t even talk about anything. I live in Boulder, and people will shut off any kind of conversation if they disagree with the party you’re affiliated with or your particular stance on an issue. I couldn’t accept that. … If we’re going to get past this, you have to start off with listening to others.”
As a California native from a U.S. Army family, Winn grew up all over the world, first moving in 1948 to Japan, where his father was stationed after WWII, and later to Germany, New York and the Deep South under Jim Crow laws.
Winn earned his undergraduate degree at Florida State University and completed medical school at the University of Florida following a stint studying philosophy in Germany. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War and went on to serve as a flight surgeon in the Western Pacific.
He later moved to Denver, where he practiced radiology until his eventual retirement about six years ago. Winn said he started his first foray into politics in January, saying he felt his experiences traveling the world, his military background and his medical acumen could be useful in Congress.
“I saw all of these problems facing us, and I felt many in Washington had no idea how to handle it,” Winn said. “All they did was complain without offering good solutions to health care, education, climate and energy. I felt I could bring some new ideas to solving these challenges.”
Winn said he isn’t interested in a large-scale federal bureaucracy overseeing programs like “Medicare for All” and instead voiced that he’d like to see more personalized health care options focused around the patient experience — providing better flexibility in how and where patients get their care.
He noted that he didn’t care about costs but rather ensuring that Americans would receive better health care by handing more control over to states to implement their own systems. He emphasized customized insurance plans, health saving accounts and better price transparency from providers to allow patients to shop around for services.
Winn also said he’d like to offer families more flexibility in choosing their child’s education, favoring the creation of new charter schools to bring competition for public schools as well as to provide more options for kids who would otherwise be “disadvantaged because of their zip code.”
He also said he’d like to take the burden of providing students loans away from the government and shift it toward colleges and universities. With higher education institutions left holding the bag for students with loans, Winn said the schools would have more incentive to make sure they’re qualified and ready to enter the workforce.
Finally, Winn addressed the country’s future energy needs, saying that in addition to the growing wind and solar industries, investing in nuclear power is still a necessity.
“Wind and solar, certainly in certain portions of the world and the country, is the perfect way to do it,” Winn said. “… What I’m suggesting is we use every tool in our toolbox to address a very significant problem. … Inexpensive energy is critical for the growth of any economy. It’s made the difference in our economy, and it’s important we come up with ways to do that.”
Winn also discussed a couple of the major topics making their way through the greater national conversation, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Winn said he was angry that the nation wasn’t better prepared for a pandemic — pointing to the 2019 Crimson Contagion exercise that pinpointed weaknesses in the country’s pandemic response — and lamented the disjointed response from federal, state and local agencies.
Though, he did laud the Trump administration for what he called a good decision to cut off travel from China in January, for providing daily briefings through National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci and Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, and for putting American industry to work on new ideas to combat the virus.
Winn continued to say that with the spread of the illness slowed, it is time for the country’s younger residents to head back to work and school.
“Right now, the biggest thing we face is fear,” Winn said. “Here in Boulder, people are going bonkers because they don’t know what to do. They’re not getting clear leadership and guidance because it’s based on politics, which is unconscionable. …
“If there’s any blessing, it’s that it’s spared the young people. They need to be getting out there and getting back to their lives, their education and their business.”
Winn also expressed exasperation with the Black Lives Matter movement, saying that he’s still not sure what organizers are trying to accomplish.
“Having done surgery, I know how shallow skin color is,” Winn said. “… But the only way to deal with (racism) is to sit down and talk about it. I can’t understand the rioting, destruction, burning, killing and maiming — in the name of what? What do they want to accomplish? Sit down and tell me what you want to accomplish, and then maybe we can get there.”
Winn declined to voice support for any presidential or U.S. Senate candidates in the upcoming election, saying that he’s ready to swear allegiance only to the Constitution and that his support for anyone else is entirely a topic-by-topic issue.
Winn was willing to give an opinion on his competitor Joe Neguse, however, calling the congressman “too bound by ideology” to be an effective leader. He also criticized Neguse and the rest of Congress for not taking more direct action following the Crimson Contagion exercise and for prioritizing “trying to impeach the president” in lieu of creating legislation to support his constituents.
Winn said that if he’s elected, he intends to bring Democrats and Republicans together once again to work through the country’s biggest issues.
“I know what it takes, and I know the most important asset you can have is listening,” Winn said. “That’s what I did all my years in medicine, and that’s what I’ll do in Washington. … For 45 years, the Democrats have had this county and this district, and they’ve written the narrative for the Republicans. I think it’s time in a democracy that you have two sides of the issue to discuss.”