This House district is up for grabs after the departure of a longtime incumbent. Jovan Melton, a Democrat, represented these 77,000 Aurora and Denver residents from 2013 until he was term-limited in 2020.
Melton’s record of reliable liberalism was also marred in 2018 by revelations of past domestic violence charges.
House District 41 will no longer be Melton’s, who is term limited. Democrat Iman Jodeh and Republican Bob Andrews are gunning to represent this swath of the southeast Denver metroplex, which spans from the intersection of South Quebec Street and Leetsdale Drive to the intersection of South Chambers Road and East Hampden Avenue.
Andrews and Jodeh both responded to the Sentinel’s candidate questionnaire, revealing dueling visions of how they’d steer this district.
Jodeh is a first-generation American. Her parents came to Colorado from Palestine and became small business owners, operating a deli in Denver. Jodeh attended Cherry Creek schools and graduated from Overland High School to study at CU Denver, where she became student body president. She quickly kicked off years of activism and advocacy, including in her current roles as the community advocate & liaison for the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado and the spokesperson for the Colorado Muslim Society.
Jodeh says healthcare is a human right. On her website, she says her father’s fight against cancer yielded more than $1 million in healthcare bills, and people with insurance are still going bankrupt over medical bills. To make the system affordable again, she’s proposing “affordable, universal healthcare” as well as caps on essential medications and rising premium costs.
She also describes climate change as a crisis.
If elected, Jodeh would strive to raise costs on big polluters and continue to implement stricter regulations on the oil and gas industry. She wouldn’t necessarily ban oil and gas production, but she supports “reducing the presence of hydraulic fracturing in our state as much as is needed to fully protect our communities and reduce the harm it creates in our natural environment.”
States including Maryland and New York have banned the practice of hydraulic fracturing, which is often dubbed fracking. Some environmental activist groups say that’s necessary to prevent the worst-case climate breakdowns.
Jodeh echoes Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in her calls to establish a “just transition” for workers in the dwindling coal industry “and other unsustainable forms of energy.”
She would also put more state resources into public transit systems, which face huge budget deficits, and ban single-use plastics.
Jodeh calls for a slew of other progressive planks, from reducing the prison population to mandating affordability in housing developments.
On the other hand, Andrews describes himself as a “small government” Republican.
Originally from Limon, Andrews has lived in the district since 1994. He’s taught in Aurora Public Schools, Yuma, Colorado and in the state Department of Corrections facilities. Andrews has also sold real estate since 1980, according to his website.
Politically, Andrews is a proponent of “fiscal responsibility” — the state legislature cut more than $3 billion from its budget in July amidst the pandemic-induced recession, with hard choices to come. He called unaffordable healthcare “the biggest issue facing America today,” and opposes implementing a statewide public health insurance option.
“It is a national issue and could bankrupt any state that tries to take it on by themselves,” he told the Sentinel.
He also touts conservative values on wedge issues. He’s pro-2nd Amendment and pro-life.
However, he’s broken from other Republican lawmakers who called this summer to provide parents with paychecks for their own education projects amidst school budget shortfalls. He says the fiscal impact to schools would be too large, and there’d be no guarantee that children would receive their own education at home or at the behest of their parents.
Andrews makes no mention of climate change or environmental issues on his website.
On police reform, he said one-sized-fits-all solutions aren’t in the best interests of Coloradans or diverse police departments. He says he wants to address the power of police unions.
Andrews likely faces an uphill battle in HD41. In 2018, Melton squashed a challenge from Republican Lynn Myers by almost 30 points.
As of Sept. 21, Jodeh has raked in $58,000 in campaign contributions. That’s compared to Andrews’ $4,000.
Jodeh’s largest contribution to date is $1,500 from a Southwest Regional Chapter for Carpenters political action committee.
— GRANT STRINGER, Staff Writer