HD41: Jodeh, Andrews vie for state House District 41

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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 

Meet Republican Bob Andrews

Bob Andrews

Republican Bob Andrews grew up in Limon and has lived in Aurora since 1974, including in HD41 since 1994. He earned degrees in social studies, math and leadership and policy studies. He became a teacher 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. A Republican, he said his decades of experience selling real estate has informed his views of the local economy and the tight real estate market that grips Aurora.

Bob Andrews Policy Questions

PUBLIC HEALTH CARE OPTION  

While I believe health insurance is possibly the biggest issue facing America today, It is a national issue and could bankrupt any state that tries to take it on by themselves.

 

HOME SCHOOL STIPENDS? 

As a retired teacher, I feel for the children and their parents during this pandemic. However, I cannot support taking money away from the education system for two reasons. First, the schools have budget issues due to the pandemic and secondly, I would need guaranties the children are being educated in the home.

 

LET VOTERS DECIDE TABOR? 

The “so-called” Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), as you put it was decided by the voters already. In 1992 the people of Colorado voted to approve it. The people have spoken.

 

MANDATORY INDEPENDENT OVERSIGHT FOR POLICE?

 I do not believe “every” police agency should be mandated by the state to do anything that is not an issue with their agency. I grew up in Limon, Colorado. Their police department is completely different than Denver & Aurora’s. I do believe police departments should be held accountable as well as the criminals victimizing our community. I believe a more productive way to address the problem would be address the “blue wall” and police unions that protect bad cops.

 

MANDATORY CHILDHOOD VACCINES? 

While I want all children to be safe and healthy, I find it conflicting what our state says one thing about a person’s personal choice when it comes to their body but another when it comes to vaccinations.

 

NO JAIL TIME FOR DRUG CHARGES? 

Given the fact that I worked for Colorado Department of Corrections for many years, I believe in law and order and consequences for our actions. We are a nation of laws. If we are going to have a law that it is illegal to use and possess illicit and illegal drugs, we should hold the violators of said laws accountable. So, no I would not support allowing drug dealers to stay on our streets to potentially introduce drugs to our school age children as well as the crimes they commit to purchase said drugs.

 

END PARTISAN STATE

OFFICES? 

I believe in letting the people’s voices be heard. Appointed positions would not end partisan elections but only increase it. You would have partisan politics in the appointments by partisan governors and state senators.

 

FEES FOR BIKES TO USE ROADS AND TRAILS?

I believe bicyclists should be encouraged to use our road in an effort to make Colorado more Green, not punish them for having to share the roads with automobiles.

 

24/7 LIQUOR AT BARS? 

I support “blue laws!” I believe alcohol has ill effects on our society and the family unit. I did not support selling liquor on Sundays and full strength beer in the grocery store. Can we not have one day set aside for sobriety and family life? How many deaths do we have a year due to drunk driving, yet we want to sell wine in grocery stores and bars open 24/7? In addition, doing that will put many small liquors stores out of business. I support small business and safe roads.

The lighter side of Bob Andrews

PUBLIC OPTION  

While I believe health insurance is possibly the biggest issue facing America today, It is a national issue and could bankrupt any state that tries to take it on by themselves.

 

HOME SCHOOL STIPENDS? 

As a retired teacher, I feel for the children and their parents during this pandemic. However, I cannot support taking money away from the education system for two reasons. First, the schools have budget issues due to the pandemic and secondly, I would need guaranties the children are being educated in the home.

 

LET VOTERS DECIDE TABOR? 

The “so-called” Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), as you put it was decided by the voters already. In 1992 the people of Colorado voted to approve it. The people have spoken.

 

MANDATORY INDEPENDENT OVERSIGHT FOR POLICE?

 I do not believe “every” police agency should be mandated by the state to do anything that is not an issue with their agency. I grew up in Limon, Colorado. Their police department is completely different than Denver & Aurora’s. I do believe police departments should be held accountable as well as the criminals victimizing our community. I believe a more productive way to address the problem would be address the “blue wall” and police unions that protect bad cops.

 

MANDATORY CHILDHOOD VACCINES? 

While I want all children to be safe and healthy, I find it conflicting what our state says one thing about a person’s personal choice when it comes to their body but another when it comes to vaccinations.

 

NO JAIL TIME FOR DRUG CHARGES? 

Given the fact that I worked for Colorado Department of Corrections for many years, I believe in law and order and consequences for our actions. We are a nation of laws. If we are going to have a law that it is illegal to use and possess illicit and illegal drugs, we should hold the violators of said laws accountable. So, no I would not support allowing drug dealers to stay on our streets to potentially introduce drugs to our school age children as well as the crimes they commit to purchase said drugs.

 

END PARTISAN STATE

OFFICES? 

I believe in letting the people’s voices be heard. Appointed positions would not end partisan elections but only increase it. You would have partisan politics in the appointments by partisan governors and state senators.

 

FEES FOR BIKES TO USE ROADS AND TRAILS?

I believe bicyclists should be encouraged to use our road in an effort to make Colorado more Green, not punish them for having to share the roads with automobiles.

 

24/7 LIQUOR AT BARS? 

I support “blue laws!” I believe alcohol has ill effects on our society and the family unit. I did not support selling liquor on Sundays and full strength beer in the grocery store. Can we not have one day set aside for sobriety and family life? How many deaths do we have a year due to drunk driving, yet we want to sell wine in grocery stores and bars open 24/7? In addition, doing that will put many small liquors stores out of business. I support small business and safe roads.

Meet Democrat Iman Jodeh

Iman Jodeh

Democrat Iman 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 earned degrees in politics and policy. After college, she started a program connecting Americans with Arabs and Muslims. Jodeh is currently the community advocate & liaison for the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado and the spokesperson for the Colorado Muslim Society.

Iman Jodeh Policy Questions

PUBLIC HEALTH CARE OPTION

As a proud board member at the Women’s Lobby of Colorado and as the Community Advocate and Liaison at the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, fighting for a solvent, public-health insurance, especially as we work towards paid family leave, has been a priority for me. While I understand that this upcoming legislative session will have a shoestring budget, we must ensure that the most vulnerable people of Colorado have reliable, quality healthcare – especially during a pandemic when people of color and low income individuals are disproportionately impacted. We must work to do what we can, with what we have now, and make sure people are taken care of while we work toward a long term public health insurance system.

 

HOME SCHOOL STIPENDS?

As the product of public schools, starting a Ponderosa, Prairie, Overland, and continuing that public education through college and graduate school at the University of Colorado at Denver, I have personally been affected by the choke hold that TABOR has on public schools. As an educator myself, I understand the effects that COVID has on our students, parents, and teachers. As we pivot to online learning for students that traditionally would attend in person, we need to recognize that, in many ways, teachers are taking on more than usual. Not only are they teaching online, but many schools have adopted hybrid models that allow students to attend in person for three days a week, and two days online. So while our students may not be physically in school full time, our teachers are still relying on per-pupil funding to meet the needs of their Students.

 

LET VOTERS DECIDE TABOR?

TABOR continues to create a domino effect on funding public programs with our schools and roads chief among its victims. Colorado has become an example to the rest of the nation on tax policy that does not work towards sustainability for the state. Colorado needs to put an end to TABOR and invest in our future and public programs for the people of this state.

 

MANDATORY INDEPENDENT OVERSIGHT FOR POLICE?

As a resident of Aurora, I am familiar with the increase in police-involved killings and brutality. This has left many people in Aurora questioning and redefining what it truly means to “serve and protect.” I also believe the people of Aurora want to hold the Aurora Police Department accountable and would like to have their voices uplifted. Therefore I would like to make sure that an independent oversight committee equates to having authority that the Aurora Police Department has an obligation to abide by and not simply about having an independent oversight committee to check a box or to build goodwill with the public that has no actual authority.

 

MANDATORY CHILDHOOD VACCINES? 

For six years, my father battled cancer. And within those six years, we had to shield him from folks we knew were not vaccinated because he was at such high risk with a compromised immune system. As someone who also lives with a preexisting condition and is the wife of a former nurse, I have witnessed some of the most unfortunate and avoidable medical situations. Legislatively, I believe Colorado has likely gotten as far as it can with previous bills. I also believe that we have a civic duty to honor the reality that our choices impact others and as a legislator it will be my responsibility to make decisions that impact residents’ health and when making those decisions, I will err on the side of maintaining a society that prioritizes public health.

 

NO JAIL TIME FOR DRUG CHARGES?

Generally, we should be moving away from incarceration. Non-violent crimes should be directed toward diversion programs. 

 

END PARTISAN STATE

OFFICES?

After the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and watching as the highest court in the land becomes a reflection of each individual administration, I do not believe that it is a good reflection of the views of the American people. I believe moving to this same model on the state level could have the same effect. These seats should remain for the people to decide,

through democratic vote, who should fill these positions.

 

FEES FOR BIKES TO USE ROADS AND TRAILS?

Bicycles are good for our personal, public, and environmental health. I would not support any policy that would disincentivize their use. We must start to pivot and establish sustainable transportation policies to combat our climate crisis.

 

24/7 LIQUOR AT BARS?

Some stores, like Target, already sell wine in their stores, expanding that to grocery stores would most likely not have a huge effect. However – just like in many instances, there are considerations of big box stores running small business owners out business. Similar to when the expansion of the sale of full strength beer was in discussion in 2015, I’d look for a compromise that protects our local stores while granting the sale of wine where it makes sense. While I understand that most people drink responsibly, I do not think allowing bars to stay open 24/7 fills any need and may create more of a public safety issue than anything else.

 

The lighter side of Iman Jodeh

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Time travel. I love history and I would jump at the opportunity to witness historic events, talk with some of the biggest influencers of our world, but also peek into what our future holds.

What movie will you watch again no matter how many times you’ve seen it?

Marvel’s Avengers Endgame, since I was 12 my brother and I collected Marvel comics, so when the Marvel Cinematic Universe started, it became a way for me to geek out!

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Pediatrician and archaeologist. I’ve always loved helping people, especially little humans which drew me to becoming a pediatrician. But there was always something so exotic about discovering lost artifacts in far away lands. Watching Indian Jones growing up probably had something to do with that.

What talent do you have that most people don’t know about?

I love to draw! Drawing has always been a great way for me to express my views and became a therapeutic practice.

If you wrote a memoir, what would you call it?

American Made by Immigrants

What’s your favorite curbside guilty pleasure?

I have the pleasure of living in Aurora. Knowing I could take a culinary tour of the world by driving around Aurora gives me great joy!

What was the last book you read?

Voter’s Guide Blue Book!

Have you found any unexpected upsides to wearing a face mask during the Pandemic?

I don’t need makeup!

What’s your favorite family tradition?

Making Ramadan and Eid sweets with my mother.

If you had a boat, what would you name it?

Safeena

If you could only listen to one song forever, what would it be?

Hotel California – my father used to sing it to me when I would work alongside him at his deli and grocery throughout my childhood.

Which reality television show do you think you’d be best at?

Anything I could judge food or cooking, I’m a big foodie and love discovering new culinary delights.

What do you think needs to be invented more than anything?

A magic pill and heals all that ails us.