AURORA, Colo.-When Dennis Champine, owner-operator of Champine Tire Co. in Aurora in the 1970s, joined the local Sertoma Club, it was to make contacts in Aurora's business community-not to get involved in politics. ``I guess I was following a path,'' Mr. Champine said. ``As a result of being in the Sertoma Club, I met a guy who was leaving his post on Aurora's Budget Advisory Committee. I asked him, `If you're getting off, can I get on?'
``He asked the guy who'd appointed him. Nobody else asked, so I was appointed.''
Mr. Champine, who abandoned tire sales after ``four or five years,'' has since made politics his full-time business-including eight years (1979 to 1987) as mayor of Aurora.
To make a name for yourself in politics, according to Mr. Champine, all you have to do is want to get involved, and then do so.
``There are so few people really involved that once you are, you find yourself becoming fairly influential fairly quickly,'' Mr. Champine said.
Mr. Champine now has a chance to help pass on political knowledge to others. He is project coordinator for ``Citizen's College'' at the University of Colorado at Denver, a month-long program that began Oct. 21 and is designed to teach private citizens how to get involved in local politics and community affairs.
Though not one of the instructors in the course, Mr. Champine will introduce the speakers and help lead classroom discussion, directing the activities along the lines of the popular self-help book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
Among the faculty are Colorado State Treasurer Bill Owens, former Denver city councilwoman and mayoral candidate Mary De Groot and political analyst Floyd Ciruli. They will instruct students on such points as political awareness, the structure and purpose of governmental bodies and non-profit activist organizations, and using the information highway to gain grassroots support.
Mr. Champine, who never attended college before beginning his political career, is studying at UC-Denver for a bachelor's degree in political science, with specialization in criminal justice. He has been appointed to two boards involved with criminal justice issues, he said, and is seeking further education in that field.
Robert Clifton, a former city and county manager whom Mr. Champine knew during his mayoral days, is a political science professor at UC-Denver. Messrs. Clifton and Champine became reacquainted on campus, and Mr. Clifton persuaded him to join the ``Citizen's College'' program.