Jon Caldara is the President of the Independence Institute, Colorado’s free-market think tank in Golden, Colorado. Caldara also hosts a 3 hour a day a radio talk show on the 50,000-watt blowtorch News Radio 850 KOA. His current affairs television program Independent Thinking, on Denver’s KBDI Channel 12, airs on Thursdays at 7:30 pm repeated the following Tuesday at 5 pm.
He was asked to take the position of President of the Independence Institute in November 1998 after then-President Tom Tancredo was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Caldara’s free market philosophies gelled when he was studying economics and business at the liberal University of Colorado in Boulder during the mid 1980s. As an outlet for his frustration with modern collectivist politics, Caldara authored and drew a daily comic strip entitled, B Street, which he syndicated to more than 50 newspapers across the U.S. This conservative version of Doonesbury; was the constant target of the politically correct.
Caldara started his political career in 1994 when he was elected to the Regional Transportation District Board of Directors. RTD is the fourth largest governmental entity in the state of Colorado. Caldara almost immediately became the most controversial and outspoken board member in RTD’s history, as he fought against wasteful projects and for free market reforms such as competitive contracting of services and privatization. In 1998, Caldara became Chairman of the Board of RTD. In 1997, Caldara led the effort to defeat “Guide the Ride”, a 66% RTD sales tax increase referendum. The proposal originally had popular support of 73%. The proponents of the tax hike outspent Caldara’s campaign by 15-to-1. By election day the measure failed with a 58% “no” vote.
Caldara is the veteran of many issue campaigns, including in 1998, Caldara led the statewide effort to defeat Referendum B, a proposal for the state to keep a billion dollars of the taxpayers’ surplus for unspecified projects. It had original public support of 75% and the proponents outspent Caldara’s campaign by 4-to-1. By election day the measure failed with a 63% “no” vote. In 2000 ran the campaign against the educational spending mandate, Amendment 23. In 2001 he lead defeat a tax increase for a monorail system over the Rocky Mountains. In 2005 he ran the campaign against Colorado’s attack on the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, Referendums C and D, defeating the debt increase, Ref. D.
Among his many recognitions, 5280 Magazine named him as one of the top 10 most influential men in Denver, Westword awarded Caldara Denver’s Best Media Manipulator, the Denver Post put Caldara on their list of people to watch, and the Colorado Jaycees awarded him as the Outstanding Young Coloradoan. The State Policy Network honored him in 2005 with the Thomas Roe Award.