AURORA | Two Democrats are vying to represent Colorado House District 42 in the state Legislature next year, eyeing a seat that has been occupied for the past six years by incumbent state Rep. Rhonda Fields.
Dr. Eric Nelson, a current member of the Aurora Public Schools Board of Education, is facing off in the June 28 primary against Dominique Jackson, a communications consultant and member of Aurora’s Citizens Advisory Committee for Housing and Community Development.
Nelson, elected to the APS school board in 2013, has come out strong on education reform, while Jackson has made increasing affordable housing in the central-Aurora district a cornerstone of her campaign.
On housing, Jackson said that she is already working with nonprofit groups from across the state on a piece of potential legislation that would create “a sustainable funding stream” for housing in the district.
“It would be a fee, not a tax and not a budget item,” Jackson said of the potential measure.
Nelson said that he would look at housing measures that had been killed in previous legislative sessions and “revisit” them by making contentious language more amenable to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
In the wake of a particularly violent start to 2016 with several incidents anchored in north Aurora, Jackson and Nelson said that they would support measures aimed at reducing gun violence in HD 42.
Nelson said that he would support security measures such as trigger locks, while Jackson did not comment on that specific tool.
On education, the two Democratic candidates said that power should be returned to teachers, with Nelson specifying a need for smaller class sizes and a shrinkage of the negative as further educational enhancements.
So far, Jackson has walloped Nelson in terms of fundraising, having raised about $11,000 more than the school board member. As of the last campaign filing deadline June 13, Nelson had raised about $8,500 and boasted about $600 on-hand, according to the Secretary of State’s office. As of the same date, Jackson’s campaign had raked in about $20,000 and had about $2,500 on-hand.
On being out-funded by Jackson, Nelson said: “My opponent is backed by a political machine whereas I’m backed by the community. Money does not run politics, people do.”
Jackson has received endorsements from the Aurora Education Association and the Colorado Education Association, as well as several current and former local politicians, including former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, Speaker of the state House Rep. Dickey Lee Hullinghorst (D-Boulder), Colorado House Majority Leader Crisanta Duran (D-Denver), state Sen. Nancy Todd (D-Aurora) and state Rep. Jovan Melton (D-Aurora).
On his website, Nelson lists endorsements from several local school board members, private citizens four social organizations, including Colorado Ceasefire.
However, APS School Board vice president Dan Jorgensen said that he plans to ask Nelson to remove his name from the endorsement page, a request spawned by allegations that call into question Nelson’s criminal history and academic credentials.
Mike Donald, an Aurora businessman, is running unopposed on the Republican side. Donald ran for the same seat against Fields in 2012 and 2014, but handily lost in both races.