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By Mike McKibbin

Colorado House and Senate races are among the decisions facing Democratic and — for the first time in state history — unaffiliated voters who cast their ballots for party candidates in the Tuesday, June 26, state primary election. Ballots began to be mailed to all registered voters on June 4 and must be returned by 7 p.m. Election Day.

Unaffiliated voters who did not choose a party preference online at govotecolorado.com (but remain a registered unaffiliated voter) or in person at any voter service and polling center in the county where they are registered received both Democratic and Republican ballots, but can only vote one party’s ballot. If both are filled out and returned, neither ballot will be counted.

With no Republican primary races for these offices, here is information from the Democratic candidates’ websites Neighborhood Gazette readers will choose from:

House District 24

House District 24 includes all or parts of Wheat Ridge, Edgewater, Arvada, Lakewood, Golden, Lakeside, Mountain View and unincorporated Jefferson County communities of Applewood, Fairmount and West Pleasant View. The current officeholder, Democratic state Rep. Jessie Danielson, speaker pro tempore of the House, is seeking the District 20 state Senate seat. Republican candidate Arthur Erwin, artforcolorado.com, will face the winner of this race.

Monica Duran, monicaduran.com, helped lead the campaign for Wheat Ridge Issue 300, a 2015 citizen-led effort against what was felt to be out-of-control development. Duran currently serves on Wheat Ridge City Council and previously served as a director or board member for several organizations.

Duran noted she would stand up to the President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos agenda of privatizing education, support better teacher pay and expanding vocational and technical training programs so every student is on a path to a good-paying job.

To help fight rising health care premiums, Duran wants to let Coloradans purchase health insurance through the state’s Medicaid program, if it is a cheaper public option.

Duran also supports women’s rights and pro-choice legislation, along with gun control measures that keep weapons out of the hands of violent and unstable people, guns out of classrooms and military-style assault weapons off the streets.

Kris Teegardin, kristeegardin.com, has helped support people with intellectual and physical disabilities and severe and persistent mental health issues. He worked nearly 10 years as a Jefferson Center for Mental Health vocational counselor and health care coordinator.

Teegardin was an Edgewater City Council member, then mayor for six years. He remains active in the Metro Mayors Caucus.

Teegardin would support investing in good-paying jobs like skilled trades and access to affordable higher education, transportation and infrastructure, neighborhood and public schools, attracting good companies by preserving the environment and promoting healthy lifestyles, work to protect and expand universal health care and its programs to all Coloradans, help the state address the lack of education funding due to the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, support teachers and help level the playing field for struggling students.

He also vowed to fight to preserve public lands and land, air and water quality through more renewable energy and clean energy jobs, along with allocating more funds for oversight and inspections of natural gas lines and hydraulic fracturing sites to ensure citizen and worker safety.

Senate District 34

Senate District 34 includes parts or all of Denver, Sloan’s Lake and the West Colfax corridor between Sheridan and Federal boulevards. The seat is currently held by Democratic state Sen. Lucia Guzman, the assistant minority leader. State senators can serve two consecutive four-year terms and Guzman cannot seek re-election. The primary winner will face Republican candidate Gordon Alley, pastorgordonforcolorado.com, in the November general election.

Julie Gonzales, julieforcolorado.com, is the policy director for the Meyer Law Office in Denver, which specializes in immigration law. In 2005, she helped organize a coalition of low-income families, unions, community organizations and environmental activists to pass an agreement at the Gates Rubber Factory redevelopment that directed tax dollars be spent on affordable housing, a clean environment and jobs that paid a living wage.

In 2006, Gonzales organized students at three high schools to ensure Denver Public Schools offered a college-preparatory education to all students and help plug the school-to-jail pipeline. In 2009, she co-founded the Colorado Latino Forum, a statewide grassroots organization to build the economic, educational and political power of Latinos across Colorado, and in 2013 was elected board chair.

Gonzales helped draft the ASSET bill that allowed undocumented Colorado students to attend college at in-state tuition rates and created immigrant drivers’ licenses. In 2017, Gonzales helped pass legislation to ensure no Denver resources were spent on immigration enforcement.

If elected, Gonzales vowed to fight for affordable homes, high-quality education, jobs that pay a living wage, a clean environment, universal health care and civil rights.

Alan Kennedy-Shaffer, kennedyshaffer.com, a civil rights lawyer, noted he represented clients who successfully challenged President Donald Trump’s travel ban and women’s access to birth control.

Currently a captain and Judge Advocate General in the Colorado Army National Guard, a criminal justice lecturer and Ph.D. student at the University of Colorado-Denver, Kennedy-Shaffer vowed to fight for progressive values and issues, such as ending climate change, supporting immigrants, defending the rights of women, LGBTQ people, workers and democracy. He also called for more investment in affordable housing, accessible transit, teachers, small businesses, cannabis and living wages.

Milo Schwab, miloschwab.com, started his law firm three years ago to focus on civil rights and workplace discrimination. He also works with Denver startups and small businesses.

Schwab noted he will fight to address climate change and build a clean energy grid, to ensure anyone who works a full-time job can afford housing and a decent standard of living and improve education funding.

In his first year in office, Schwab stated he would introduce legislation to guarantee all employees 12 weeks paid leave while caring for a newborn or seriously ill family member at home. He also planned to help address the homeless issue with policies such as rapid rehousing for those on the brink of homelessness and supportive housing to the chronically homeless.

To help reform the criminal justice system, Schwab would pursue policies that explore alternative courts and punishments with the goal of rehabilitation and restoration, close private prisons in Colorado and end mass incarceration.

House District 4

House District 4 includes all or part of the West Colfax corridor between Sheridan and Federal, Denver North and West, neighborhoods of the Highlands, Villa Park, Sloan’s Lake, Barnum, Berkeley, Sunnyside and Sun Valley. The seat is currently held by Democratic state Rep. Dan Pabon. State representatives can serve no more than four consecutive two-year terms and Pabon cannot run for re-election. The winner will face Republican candidate Robert “Dave” John in the November election.

Amy W. Beatie, beatieforcolorado.com, served a one-year clerkship in 2001 with then-Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory J. Hobbs, Jr., focused on water law, criminal, condemnation and taxation cases. Beatie left her private law practice in 2017 to lead the Colorado Water Trust. She remains the nonprofit organization’s executive director and is an adjunct professor at the University of Denver law school.

Trying to make sure the state’s strong economy benefits everyone, improving the quality, accessibility and affordability of education and protecting the environment are issues Beatie planned to focus upon in the legislature.

Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, serenaforcolorado.com, is a youth counselor, social caseworker and director for the Denver Collaborative Partnership.

As an elected official, Gonzales-Gutierrez wants to ensure education is accessible and affordable from early childhood through college, address affordable housing with legislation and funding and sponsor legislation that combats climate change, protects public lands, water resources and clean air.

Noting a need for transit-oriented development, improved pedestrian, bike, car and mass transit in the state’s major corridors and neighborhood streets, Gonzales-Gutierrez promised to be a strong steward of state transportation funds.

She also pledged to defend and uphold federal law regarding pay equity, protect and advance women’s rights, support policies that increase state resources for mental health and substance use treatment, access to inmate diversion programming and to prepare inmates for re-entry into communities.

Calling passage of the Colorado Health Exchange one of the best legislative successes in recent years, Gonzales-Gutierrez would urge Congress to keep Medicaid intact, fund reproductive health organizations and provide subsidies to keep insurance premiums affordable.

William Edward “Ed” Britt, britt4co.com, is a graduate of the Colorado Institute for Leadership Training that has produced more than 50 Democratic state legislators and many other elected and nonprofit leaders statewide. He works in senior health care benefits and umpires high school baseball. In the past, he worked in consumer protection at the Colorado Attorney General’s office and at the Auraria Higher Education Center, Colorado Department of Revenue and the Retired Enlisted Association for military veterans.

Britt, who petitioned his way on to the ballot, recently helped draft legislation to aid people who face small municipal or petty offenses. He noted the Colorado Bureau of Investigation had often misreported those offenses, which led to the denial of gainful employment and housing. Left without the means to support themselves, faced with dire situations or no place to live, the cycle of food stamps, Medicaid or other support mechanisms was unbreakable, he added.

As a state representative, Britt pledged to address reforms in education, housing, urban renewal and support the elderly and military veterans.