2024 Primary: CU Regent At Large

Elliott Hood vs. Charles "CJ" Johnson

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Elliott Hood

Priorities

  • Affordability
  • Ending concealed carry on campus
  • Environmental sustainability

One of the first things Hood likes to do on the campaign trail is tell people why they should care about the CU Board of Regents. Many voters don’t know what they are (a governance board), what they do (oversee the budget, make hiring decisions, set tuition and policies, etc.) or why it’s even an elected office (it’s written into the state constitution). 

“CU is the largest university system by far in Colorado. We’re the third-largest employer in the state. We have a massive economic impact,” Hood says. “The people that run this institution matter a great deal.”

Hood has worked in K-12 education for his entire career, first as a fifth-grade teacher in a low-income district and now as an attorney for school districts. He believes that experience “can help the university navigate a lot of the challenges they are facing.” 

“I want to make sure I’m making college — my alma matter — as available as possible to kids like the kids I taught,” he says.

Hood would like to lock in freshman tuition rates for all four years for all CU students. He’d also like to see the universities provide enough housing for every freshman and sophomore, as housing is what students say is “the biggest source of their debt.”

Hood wants to lower costs without sacrificing services, like mental health supports for students, or values. He would accelerate work on CU’s climate action plan and expand collective bargaining “for all workers.”

“There is no doubt that all of those areas might result in some short-term increase in costs,” he says, “but I like to think of these investments as investments, and not just things that cost money. Those interventions pay for themselves” through lowering dropout rates, reducing employee turnover and cutting energy and utility costs.

To shore up university finances, Hood believes CU needs a bigger endowment fund — much bigger. CU’s endowment is about $2 billion; Hood points to two Texas schools as examples of where he thinks we should be aiming: the University of Texas, which has a $40 billion endowment, and Texas A&M, which has about half that.

Gun violence is one of Hood’s priorities because students and faculty have pushed for a concealed carry ban. “We need to listen to them,” he says.

Yes/no questions
Would you support the University of Colorado’s divestment from fossil fuels? Yes
Would you support a tuition freeze or tuition cap policy within the CU system? Yes
Do you support the Supreme Court’s 2023 ruling on affirmative action? No 

Read more about Hood’s policies and proposals at bit.ly/ElliottHoodBW


Charles “CJ” Johnson

Priorities

  • Financial sustainability
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Mental health and wellbeing

Of all the former Buffs to run for the CU Board of Regents, Johnson has a unique claim to fame. He was a member of the 1990 national championship-winning football team. 

He returned to CU as assistant athletic director and board member for the Leeds School of Business. Today, he works in the corporate world and believes in public-private partnerships to help solve the affordable housing crisis for students on and off campus. 

Johnson’s path to Colorado, via football, is for him both an inspiring story and a cautionary tale about the academic system we’ve built. 

“I had a number of siblings who didn’t get the same opportunities,” he says. “My nextdoor neighbor was smarter than I am, more academically talented than I was, but was not afforded the same opportunities. Something is wrong when that’s the case.”

Johnson does believe CU should look to athletics when it considers goals such as increasing diversity and improving graduation rates. “It’s the most integrated environment on our college campus,” he says. “Athletes’ graduation rates and GPAs are higher than the general population.”

He acknowledges the concerns some have voiced about his friendships with and praise of controversial former coaches Bill “Coach Mac” McCartney and Gary Barnett, who were criticized for their public comments on homosexuality and women and their role in and response to numerous allegations of sexual assault against players. 

Both men are “flawed and wrong in many areas, as are many people,” Johnson says, recounting times where he criticized or corrected them in “knock-down, drag-out conversations” over his “deep-seated issues with some of their views.”

“There are lines to be drawn, but we have to engage people,” he says. “There’s more to us than the hard lines that we draw about people. I’ve been referred to as a star athlete who is running for office. In many ways, that’s offensive to me. I haven’t been an athlete in 34 years. I played my last game on Jan. 1, 1991. There’s a lot more to me.”

But, he says, “athletics is a relevant part of the overall campus environment. When decisions are made at the president’s level on who we affiliate with because of our athletic programs, it matters. I have a particular understanding and can lend credibility and experience.”

Yes/no questions
Would you support the University of Colorado’s divestment from fossil fuels? Yes
Would you support a tuition freeze or tuition cap policy within the CU system? Yes
Do you support the Supreme Court’s 2023 ruling on affirmative action? No

Read more about Johnson’s policies and proposals at bit.ly/CharlesJohnsonBW

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