Colorado legislators will face a virtual sea of challenges next year, stemming from the pandemic, the economy, climate change and problems past legislatures might have addressed but haven’t come close to solving.
The Sentinel Editorial Board has looked closely at a variety of candidates and races and makes its recommendations this year chiefly on potential lawmakers’ ability to achieve results in protecting women’s health and reproductive rights, reducing crime and drug addiction, stabilizing the economy, improving public education, improving and reforming police services and improving the affordability of health care.
In particularly, The Sentinel asked each candidate their position on endlessly debunked conspiracy theories about widespread voter fraud “stealing” the election from former President Donald Trump. Dangerous among any residents, it is anathema to sound decision making and good governance to entertain or promote Trump’s “Big Lie.” We’ve disqualified so-called election deniers from consideration for any office and recommend Colorado voters do, too.
The Sentinel recommends these candidates this year for state House and Senate seats representing the greater Aurora region.
House District 32: Dafna Michaelson Jenet
Democratic state Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet has worked hard to improve the accessibility of mental health services for Colorado residents, especially minors. Michaelson Jenet was instrumental in helping pass legislation that provides at least three mental-health sessions to minors, regardless of ability to pay. She’s been keen now on helping ensure that not only do Colorado residents have access to mental health care, but that the systems and industries themselves have the resources to meet increasing demand.
Michaelson Jenet has also been a strong proponent of ensuring women’s unfettered access to reproductive healthcare.
Her record is a robust catalog of support for ensuring quality education and reliable, affordable health care services are available for every Colorado resident.
House District 36: Mike Weissman
We’ve previously pointed out to readers that Democratic state Rep. Mike Weissman has been a consistent force for thoroughness as a lawmaker, often pointing out critical nuance or potential unintended consequences of legislative proposals. He’s also earned the reputation of being the conscience of the House, making clear when well-intended laws and dubious proposals have the potential to run over people with little means of recourse.
But Weissman’s real strength for Aurora is in standing behind policies that offer security and strength to those without powerful lobbies under the Gold Dome. Weissman is a reliable ally for people and families who struggle against bureaucracies and systems that too often become insurmountable for those who don’t boast economic, educational or racial privileges.
His recent work on changes to public schools and higher education, promoting new and expanded concurrent education programs, are precisely the kind of reforms that benefit not just individuals, but the entire state.
House District 37: Ruby Dickson
Redistricting last year created a vacancy in this district in the metro’s southeastern reaches. The clear choice for realistically addressing increased crime, flagging public education and endangered rights of women seeking health care is Democrat Ruby Dickson.
Republican Paul Archer has a proven track record of community involvement and identifying the needs of people too often overlooked or overrun by government bureaucracy or legal loopholes.
But his promises fall far short of what’s needed to ensure women’s reproductive and abortion decisions remain free from government intrusion. Archer says he will “say yes to protecting the rights of the unborn, with exceptions to rape, incest, and health of the mother and say no to late-term abortions.” It’s that kind of misunderstanding about ignoring a woman’s right to privacy and control of her own body that has led to a growing health care crisis created by government intervention in abortion rights.
Dickson has made it clear she understands that no government interference means just that. She’s a vocal proponent of ensuring that all Colorado residents enjoy equal rights, free from government oversight or regulation. Her policies closely align with success created in recent past legislatures, especially in areas of boosting the lives of senior residents and strengthening public schools.
House District 40: Naquetta Ricks
Incumbent Democratic state Rep. Naquetta Ricks is the voice of reason and progress in this southeast Aurora district.
While Ricks and GOP challenger Le Sellers both use their campaigns to talk about important issues such as criminal justice, education and promoting the growth of small business, Sellers paints a false and dangerous narrative about public schools.
Sellers wants the Legislature to force schools to focus on what he says are missing basic skills, presuming public schools don’t do that. While we agree that standardized test scores are dismal and that the so-called minority gap on testing for basic skills is even more alarming, we, and Ricks, understand it’s a complex dilemma and not a problem with curricula focused on frivolous subjects other than basic skills.
Much more troubling, Sellers repeats lurid, debunked and dangerous propaganda as campaign fodder. Sellers says Colorado schools have “a hidden agenda, the sexualization of the youngest in society.”
Such irrational conspiracy theories have no place in serious conversations about public education.
Ricks is the rational and persistent voice for practical progress.
Like most local prosecutors, she sees the value in successful and restorative justice programs that end criminal behavior rather than perpetuate it with “school to prison” pipelines, boosting recidivism and endless social problems.
Ricks is also a key watchdog for small businesses in Colorado, working to ensure new ideas or old problems are held to the touchstone of how struggling small businesses can accommodate costs and bureaucracy.
Voters have a clear choice here, and should send Ricks back to the Capitol for another term.
House District 41: Iman Jodeh
Both candidates in this central Aurora state House district have compelling ideas about how to address a growing crisis for residents here, and across the metroplex: affordable housing.
GOP challenger Stephanie Hancock would like to lead the Legislature in forcing municipalities to reduce or eliminate many construction fees, possibly encourage builders to create some income-driven housing options, and intriguingly, ensure zoning for tiny home communities. No doubt local cities and counties will object to builder fees they say are critical to quality growth.
Jodeh, who’s focused a great deal of her first term on the growing affordable housing problem, wants to return to the Capitol to work on inclusionary zoning laws, requiring home builders to include affordable options in housing developments.
Hancock, however, misses the Aurora mark by following other Republican candidates in hoisting the region’s surging crime problem to the front of her campaign without offering realistic, practical solutions.
She blames “defunding police” on the local crime problem. Neither Aurora, Arapahoe County nor any state police agency has been “defunded” nor even seen anything but budget increases for years.
She also is off-base with blaming dismal student achievement scores on a lack of school choice. Colorado residents, including those in Aurora, enjoy some of the most liberal school choice and charter school options in the nation.
Jodeh has a much more practical and needed agenda by wanting to focus on practical ways to close so-called achievement gaps in schools, drawing agencies, governments, schools and communities together for collaborative solutions.
The Sentinel strongly suggests another term for Jodeh.
House District 42: Mandy Lindsay
There’s virtually no choice other than re-electing Democrat Mandy Lindsay to her House District 42 seat.
Republican challenger Cory Parella has created what appears to be some sort of parody campaign, sometimes worryingly serious in tenor, other times surreal and comical.
Fortunately for voters in this central Aurora district, Lindsay proved to be a conscientious and energetic steward for strengthening public schools, accessible healthcare for all Colorado residents, especially mental health care, and ensuring women’s unrestricted access to reproductive health services. As an intriguing way to address surging housing prices in the area, Lindsay proposes prohibiting for-profit corporations from owning single-family homes. Some area real estate experts have blamed mushrooming home prices during the past few years on commercial investment firms, paying big cash asking prices and pushing borrowing families out of the market.
House District 56: Kathleen Conway
It’s time for voters in this southeast Aurora, Arapahoe County and rural region district to make a change for their own benefit and everyone in the state.
Incumbent GOP state Rep. Rod Bockenfeld was a strong voice of prudent spending and limited government when he served on the Arapahoe County commission.
Those strengths did not translate well when he won a state House seat two years ago. His voting record and his campaign promises make it clear his constituents need to find a better representative at the Capitol.
Bockenfeld is practical and spot on in suggesting innovative ways to reduce road congestion without having to build vast rivers of unsustainable highways in the region. He suggests state incentives for having businesses alter “office” work days and promoting home office jobs.
But when it comes to how best to increase public safety while ensuring people of color in Colorado can be confident their local police will treat them without bias or even abuse, Bockenfeld is dead wrong.
He says that recent legislative changes ensuring statewide police reform, transparency and accountability are destructive “knee-jerk reactions” to the police murder of George Floyd.
The evidence in Aurora and in many cities across the nation is unequivocal that there are pervasive practices of abuse and racism in police departments. Mandated changes in the Aurora Police Department after the death of Elijah McClain are not knee-jerk changes, but the beginning of reforms that will need staunch support at the state and local level.
Conway is the candidate to ensure that critical support.
“Every police agency should have an oversight mechanism,” Conway said in a survey from The Sentinel.
She understands that transparency and accountability can help reform bad police departments, strengthen languishing departments and bolster successful police agencies.
One of the biggest differences between the two candidates and the most compelling reason to vote for Conway is their views on reforming a broken health care system bleeding consumers, businesses and the state and national economy.The Sentinel advises a vote for Conway in this race.
Senate District 27: Tom Sullivan
While both Tom Sullivan and Tom Kim offer compelling ideas and reasons to support them, the clear choice here is the known quantity in Democratic state Rep. Tom Sullivan, running for this open Senate District 27.
Republican political newcomer Tom Kim, a Centennial lawyer and consultant, is clearly a thoughtful and cautious candidate, telling The Sentinel that uncertainty and curiosity has left him without a strong opinion on some front-row controversies.
Sullivan, a retired postal worker and Air Force veteran, has a proven track record at the Capitol of being a valliant voice for working families, people often overlooked by government agencies, funded lobbyists and others.
Both candidates push public safety and education to the front of their campaigns, but they part ways on women’s reproductive rights.
Kim said the Colorado Legislature this year went “too far” in legislating the government out of abortion decision making, saying that he supports some restrictions. Women’s rights should not be subject to any government restrictions. Sullivan has been a strong voice and vote on reproductive rights issues and will continue to be in the Senate.
Most important is Sullivan’s unparalleled press for ending gun violence in Colorado. His son, Alex, was murdered during the 2012 Aurora theater shooting.
The death propelled Sullivan as first an activist and now a legislator, committed to finding practical and effective ways to reduce all gun violence in the state. His work on that issue alone warrants his support and a vote to carry on as Senate District 27 representative.
This article is ridiculous. A petulant chips wrote this
Potato or corn?
Eight for eight of the above races the Sentinel endorses the Democrats. All of the other races the Sentinel has endorsed the Democrat running to be victorious. I’m guessing that is about ten or more other local races to date. .
My common sense says that anyone that editorially has 100% picks for the same party must have a certain bent towards reporting the news. Hard for many of us to buy into your slogan, “Honest Journalism at its best”.
As more and more citizens of Aurora understand this, the longevity of this Sentinel grows shorter and shorter. Right now, my guess the over/under for the Sentinels survival is the spring of 2024. Maybe the only savior would be a Republican Quid Nunc or a very rich Democrat to invest lots of cash.
Maybe the Colorado Democratic party could economically adopt you so not to have to pay so much for political advertisements elsewhere. Probably not as they must know they have the Sentinel for free.
What common sense?
Hey, K. Smith, are you just trying to insult me or should I believe that you know me so well to say I lack common sense? Either way, I surrender to your outstanding intellect.
What a shock that a hyper-partisan media mouthpiece for the Democrats has endorsed every single Democrat running for office.
“Women’s rights should not be subject to any government restrictions.”
A quick reminder that no more than 25% of Americans support abortion on demand all the way up until the infant’s feet exit from the Magic Birth Canal Trip, even after 50 years of Roe. Perry and the Sentinel support a minority, extremist position.
For months you’ve been spouting this meaningless statistic “25% of Americans support abortion on demand all the way up until birth”. No one is asking for that. But 65% of Americans do support a woman’s right to choose through the second trimester.
Your argument would be like me saying “Only 5% of Americans believe cops should be judge, jury, and executioner and just kill civilians on the street without a trial! We need to defund the police immediately because only 5% of Americans support them!” It’s disingenuous, misleading, and just plain lazy.
You only call it ” meaningless” because you don’t like the fact that it’s a minority, extremist position, and are lying that Perry and the Sentinel staff don’t support it ( after all “abortion without restrictions” is unambiguous). Your username is definitely misnomer.
And no, 65 percent actually say abortion should be illegal in the second trimester, so you’re wrong there, too. 70 percent support it in the first trimester in all cases, and support for it plummets after that in all but the most marginal situations.
Your side also supports defunding the police, and is soft on petty criminals in general, so you’re hardly making your case with that sad analogy.
Surprise, Surprise. The Sentinel has endorsed all the D’s… Loosing all credibility for honest journalism in the process. Have you seen the skyrocketing crime and costs in this state?! This one-party rule experiment has gone way too far. The longer this journalistic bias goes on, the more people will find out that the Sentinel has become a hyper-partisan “hit piece” blog more than a true, journalistic news source.