In her first official election to represent Colorado House District 40, incumbent Democratic Rep. Janet Buckner is fending off a late challenge from Republican newcomer Todd Brophy. A vacancy committee formed by the Arapahoe County Republican Party elected Brophy to represent the party in the HD 40 race after the former GOP candidate, Spencer Wellman, suddenly dropped out of the race late last month. In her first legislative session last year, Buckner continued the work of her late husband by introducing and pushing several education-based measures.
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By QUINCY SNOWDON, Staff writer
HD40 Rep. Buckner gets surprise challenger
It’s never too late for a little shakeup in the world of #copolitics.
Todd Brophy, a court-appointed receiver from Aurora, was elected by the Arapahoe County Republican Party Oct. 5 to replace Republican candidate Spencer Wellman in the race for House District 40, according to Joy Hoffman, chair of the Arapahoe County Republican Party.
Wellman, who was originally slated to face off against Incumbent Democratic Rep. Janet Buckner, dropped out of the race late last month.
“Due to externalities and extenuating circumstances, I will be dropping out of the race for HD40,” Wellman wrote on his campaign Facebook page Sept. 22.
Hoffman said Wellman was forced to end his campaign due to a family emergency.
Ernest Luning, a reporter for The Colorado Statesman, in September tweeted that Wellman had previously written on Facebook about plans to move out of the state.
As some ballots have already been printed and mailed, Wellman’s name will appear on the ballot this Election Day, but votes cast for him will be counted for Brophy, according to Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder Matt Crane.
Both Buckner and Wellman ran unopposed in their respective primaries earlier this year.
Raised in rural Wray, along the state’s eastern plains, Brophy said he is running on a platform that promotes changing the country’s political status quo.
“I don’t think that what we have been doing and what has been done over the last eight years has been good for Colorado or good for the United States,” he said. “People are disgusted with what’s going on in politics and you know it really is a feeling of ‘throw all the bums out.’ So there is a chance that the voters are looking for a change.”
Buckner has presided over HD 40 since July 2015, when she was appointed by a vacancy committee to fill the seat formerly held by her late husband, John. John Buckner died from a respiratory illness earlier that May, the Associated Press reported.
In her first legislative session, Buckner introduced measures that promoted equal-pay-for-equal-work in Colorado as well as guaranteed leave for working parents to attend parent teacher conferences and other school events, according to her website. Both of those measures were defeated in the Republican-controlled senate.
In a candidate questionnaire submitted by The Aurora Sentinel, Buckner said that if given the opportunity in the legislature she would vote to end capital punishment in Colorado and would be in favor of a measure that could retool the controversial Taxpayers Bill of Rights, or TABOR.
“We are the only state in the country with TABOR,” Buckner wrote. “As a legislator, I know first hand how the current state budget restrictions make it very difficult to do our jobs and also restricts our ability to properly fund education. In addition, funding for roads is also directly related to TABOR restrictions.”
Brophy expressed a general contentment with TABOR ideals, but said he would support tinkering with the document.
“I appreciate TABOR… as a whole TABOR has been a good document for Colorado, keeping our taxes at a reasonably lower level than they would be without it,” he said. “But I’m not against tweaking TABOR as long as the tweaks are correctly done.”
Buckner also wrote that she would not support a repeal of the package of gun-control measures the legislature passed in 2013 following the Aurora theater shooting a year earlier.
Brophy said he disagrees with the package of gun control measures.
“On the whole, I lean toward repealing them,” he said of the 2013 state laws. “I’m a very strong 2nd Amendment person.”
Buckner had raised about $81,000 by the latest campaign finance filing deadline on Oct. 3, according to the Secretary of State’s office. She still has about $17,500 on-hand.
Under state statute, no funds raised by Wellman can now be transferred to Brophy, according to Kris Reynolds, a member of the Secretary of State’s campaign finance team.
Reynolds said Brophy will have to file his first campaign finance report with the Secretary of State no later than the next deadline on Oct. 17.
Brophy acknowledged the difficulties of running an abbreviated campaign, but said he’s optimistic about swaying undecided or independent voters.
“Without my name on the ballot, it’s tough,” he said. “I think we still have a chance if we can impress on the Independent voters that a change from what has been to something new is the right path.”
Judd Choate, director of the state’s Division of Elections, said late-cycle candidate switches are not unusual.
“Pretty much every election cycle this kind of thing happens once, maybe twice,” Choate said. “This is the first (candidate replacement) I’m aware of in this cycle. But people die and often that’s the way people get replaced, or people withdraw — especially if they are the opposing candidate to an incumbent.”
House District 40 covers a substantial portion of southeast Aurora, including the neighborhoods immediately east of Cherry Creek State Park. The jurisdiction also includes smaller pockets of neighborhoods to the north and south.
[/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”Janet Buckner’s biography“]
A longtime advocate for Colorado education, Buckner was appointed to fill the State House seat previously held by her husband, John, following his death last year. The Buckners first moved to Aurora in 1975.
[/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”Todd Brophy’s biography“]
Todd Brohpy is a court-appointed receiver from Aurora. Originally from Wray, Colorado, Brophy was elected by a vacancy committee of the Arapahoe County Republican Party Oct. 5 to replace former Republican candidate Spencer Wellman in the race for House District 40.
[/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”Janet Buckner’s issue questions and responses“]
Would you vote to end capital punishment in Colorado? YES. I do not believe in capital punishment.
How should the state pay for substantial expansion of state roads? If the hospital provider fee fix occurs, enough money would be ‘freed up’ for the state to make improvements in roads without raising taxes.
Another way to raise money for projects such as roads would be to consider public-private partnerships. I am in strong support of passing the hospital provider fee fix.
Should the state cede some local control of fracking to counties and municipalities? How much? I believe in local control and Colorado has made it clear that this is historically the best way to continue to move forward. The people of the state should have a say in what is happening in their communities.
Should Colorado repeal gun-control laws from 2013? Safety is the primary concern of the people of Colorado and the passage of background check legislation is common sense.
Would you support a bill to ban red-light traffic cameras? First of all, the safety and privacy of the citizens is important. The first question that we should be answering is whether or not red-light cameras improve traffic safety? I would like to have a robust conversation with the experts to compare the ‘before and after’ effects in order to make an educated opinion. I believe school zones should be considered for the use of red-light traffic cameras.
Would you support a measure to ask voters to re-write the Taxpayer Bill of Rights to require a vote on tax increases, but to remove all other state budget restrictions? Yes. We are the only state in the country with TABOR. As a legislator, I know first hand how the current state budget restrictions make it very difficult to do our jobs and also restricts our ability to properly fund education. In addition, funding for roads is also directly related to TABOR restrictions.
Should a revised presidential primary system allow for non-affiliated voters to vote for party candidates? I believe the state of Colorado should revamp to a presidential primary system rather than caucuses to ensure all voters voices are heard. Currently in Colorado, non-affiliated voters can very easily choose the political party of their choice. If they would like to participate in a major political party’s primary then they can very easily change their party affiliation to do so.
Will you vote for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or someone else? Hillary Clinton. I believe she is the best qualified candidate.
Should the state prevent counties, schools and municipalities from barring transgender people from using restrooms and locker rooms for sexes other than what appears on their birth certificates? Yes, it is already in Colorado State Statutes to allow students this choice.
What one thing, above all, would you ask fellow lawmakers to do or change to increase student performance on standardized tests? I know you asked for one thing, but I have a list:
I was a teacher and everyone needs to more intently listen to our teachers. We are the ones who know our students and know what works in the classroom. This is the most invaluable tool we have — our teachers. In addition, we need more funding for our schools to continue important programs and close the achievement gap. Teachers need to earn higher salaries so they can take care of their families and if we pay them more the retention for teachers would improve.
[/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”Todd Brophy‘s issue questions and responses“]
Would you vote to end capital punishment in Colorado? No.
How should the state pay for substantial expansion of state roads? The first thing we should do is reform the regulatory system that increases the cost of building and maintaining roads. I’ve visited with county commissioners who tell me they can build and maintain roads in their counties with their own money for a fraction of the cost the state pays. Then we can talk about modernizing the way we pay for roads. In the long run, if we send less money to Washington and spend it directly here in Colorado, we would cut out a bureaucratic drain that robs us all of funds unnecessarily.
Should the state cede some local control of fracking to counties and municipalities? How much? No.
Should Colorado repeal gun-control laws from 2013? Yes.
Would you support a bill to ban red-light traffic cameras? Yes.
Would you support a measure to ask voters to re-write the Taxpayer Bill of Rights to require a vote on tax increases, but to remove all other state budget restrictions? No.
Should a revised presidential primary system allow for non-affiliated voters to vote for party candidates? No.
Will you vote for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or someone else? I fear corruption in government, as do most Americans. The ingrained corruption in government most Americans acknowledge exists and is getting worse. I cannot support Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump is the only viable alternative.
Should the state prevent counties, schools and municipalities from barring transgender people from using restrooms and locker rooms for sexes other than what appears on their birth certificates? Bans and mandates in areas like this are both wrong.
What one thing, above all, would you ask fellow lawmakers to do or change to increase student performance on standardized tests? There isn’t “one thing” that addresses this complicated issue. We need the accountability that comes with testing and we need tests that provide useful information to the students, parents, teachers and school districts.
I fear an inflow of illegal immigrants and refugees, which our schools could not handle without degrading service to all students.
[/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”LIGHTER SIDE: Janet Buckner’s personality questions and responses“]
What food do you hate most? Okra.
Do you indulge in recreational marijuana?No.
Who would play you in a movie about your life? Michelle Obama.
What Olympic Sport so you wish you could win gold at? Volleyball.
What was your favorite childhood candy? Red licorice.
If you could be an eyewitness to one event in history, what would it be? Nelson Mandela being released from prison.
If the Secret Service gave you a code name, what would it be? Amazing Grace
If you had to sing karaoke, what song would you sing? Car karaoke counts. “I Will Survive”
What epitaph would you like written on your tombstone? ‘All of us are more alike than we are different.’
Is a hot dog a sandwich? If the hot dog has a bun it is a sandwich.
What is the last concert you attended? Gladys Knight
What movie do you never tire of watching? “The Color Purple”
Dogs or cats? Dogs.
What’s the most overrated thing about living in Colorado? I moved to Colorado in 1975 and can’t find anything overrated.
[/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”LIGHTER SIDE: Todd Brophy‘s personality questions and responses“]
Did not respond.
[/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”Janet Buckner’s campaign finance“]
[/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”Todd Brophy’s campaign finance“]
Brophy has yet to file a campaign finance report. He must file his first report by Oct. 17.
[/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”Janet Buckner’s endorsements“]
[/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”Todd Brophy’s endorsements“]