EDITORIAL: For Colorado House and Senate: Michaelson, Jenet, Weissman, Sullivan, Ricks, Jodeh, Bridges, Kolker, Buckner and Fields

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Colorado senators work as lawmakers try to wrap up the 2020 session in the State Capitol, Monday, June 15, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The need for studious, thoughtful and persistent representatives in the legislature hasn’t been this keen for generations.

And your vote for who will guide Colorado through the pandemic crisis, and back out, matters greatly.

Colorado lawmakers must decide not only how to keep public education, roads and public safety intact, but legislators must also look beyond the day when our lives are guided by where and when to wear a mask.

Next year, besides the priority of salvaging businesses, schools, roads and other dire services, lawmakers must push toward addressing serious issues surrounding incarceration, policing, health care, global warming and transportation. This next general assembly, more than ever, must be ready on Day One.

We recommend that by the time the legislature ends in May, the state has mapped out a course to a public option for health insurance, settled on ensuring that the state’s mentally ill and addicted are treated rather than imprisoned, that the state is able to plan for and more successfully fight inevitable wildfires, support businesses decimated by the pandemic crisis and help students and families set back by quarantine and school closures catch up.

It will be a tall order even if there’s change in leadership in Congress and the White House. Without it, the Colorado Legislature will be a lifeline for state residents on a host of issues.

We recommend voters choose these candidates to help the Legislature conquer a challenging agenda:

In House District 30, Democrat Dafna Michaelson Jenet has become a key part of increasing mental health services, especially for children. As the pandemic wears on, the need for more accessible and affordable health care has become critical. Cherry Creek schools is hoping to persuade voters to build a mental health center solely to help serve that district’s growing needs. School districts unable to bolster their services need legislators like Michaelson to ensure all children have access to the care they need.

Voters need to do all of Colorado a favor by sending House District 36 Rep. Mike Weissman back to the Capitol. The resolute legislator has earned the reputation of being the conscience and auditor of the House. He regularly finds what’s right and wrong with critical bills written by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. More than anything, Weissman can be depended on to check whether the intentions of a bill will meet expectations, and what the real intentions most likely are.

In House District 37, Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan has proven instrumental in being a checkpoint for legislation affecting average families at work and school. Most notably, he has courageously pushed gun safety issues into the public arena and offered a way for gun rights activists to support common-sense gun safety laws. He’s evident sympathy and compassion for people pushed around by the system makes him an important voice in the state House.

Naquetta Ricks is the top choice for House District 40. Ricks is a longtime Aurora activist who has poured her time into important roles supporting Aurora Public Schools, small businesses and the growing Aurora African community. She knows first hand the challenges faced by middle class residents who struggle against rising health care costs, working parents and rising costs. She brings a grounded sensitivity to what real life is like for Aurora families and a passion for making it better for everyone.

Political newcomer Iman Jodeh brings a wealth of experience and ideas to House District 41. Jodeh is an energetic and savvy, progressive voice, keen on pushing state lawmakers into action to address the state’s developing health care and global warming crises. It’s easy to see that Jodeh will leverage her passion for collaboration gained from the Colorado Interfaith Alliance and determination to solve everyday problems for real people.

State Sen. Jeff Bridges has quickly become a valuable asset in Senate District 26 and should be returned to the Capitol to move common sense measures ahead. Bridges is a pragmatic lawmaker, quick to point out how legislation can fall short of its goals. He was a key player in ensuring the state offer full-day kindergarten to all who want it. He continues to press for issues affecting working families.

Democrat Chris Kolker is the right choice for the open Senate District 27 seat. Kolker offers a practical approach to lawmaking, based on ideals that affect hardworking families and individuals. A former teacher, he knows how difficult life inside the classroom really is and can push against unrealistic expectations. He’s a strong proponent of trying different ways to solve the same, recurring problems with affordable health care. At a time when the Legislature needs more than ever to be guided by data and science, lawmakers like Kolker will be invaluable. His Republican opponent, Suzanne Staiert, has been unfairly vilified by outside interests in the race. She’s shown herself to be a strong proponent for a wide range of bi-partsan causes. However, she’s on the wrong side of key issues for Colorado and the metro area. She saw the “me too” push at the state Capitol to expose and move past incidents of sexual harassment as a partisan exercise. It wasn’t. It was important and unfinished work that needs the attention of a legislator who sees it for what it is, an encroachment on political rights.

Former state Rep. Janet Buckner is the best choice to fill the empty Senate District 28 seat. Buckner has earned the reputation of being a creative and diligent legislator. She has become an important ally in the push to ensure the rights of all Colorado residents are respected in law and practice, and to ensure children now and in the future have equal opportunities for public and higher education.

State. Sen. Rhonda Fields has become a force of nature at the state Capitol and is needed for another term to her Senate District 29 seat. Fields has become a valued leader for myriad causes for the region, including victim’s rights, police reform, gun safety and public education equity. She not only has become a standard bearer for her party, but has frequently shown her willingness and ability to find compromises and ways to collaborate across the aisle.