By Mike McKibbin
Three Colorado House seats and one state Senate seat will be decided in part by Neighborhood Gazette voters in this month’s general election on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Ballots will be mailed to registered voters between Oct. 15 and 19, drop boxes to return those ballots will be open between Oct. 15 and Election Day, while voter service polling centers will be open from Oct. 22 through Election Day.
House District 4
House District 4 (all or some 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), has Democrat Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez running against Republican Robert “Dave” John. Gonzales-Gutierrez won a three-way primary while John was unopposed.
In a short YouTube video, John called Colorado a “wonderful state” when he arrived but blamed “misguided and incompetent” Democratic leadership for creating gridlock and corruption, “with no common sense in our spending priorities.”
If elected, John said he would focus on quality of life issues, like roads, education, crime, homelessness, taxes and basic human rights such as the freedom of religion and the Second Amendment. He also listed support for individual liberty, limited government, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, government transparency, legal immigration and school choice.
John retired after 35 years as a City of Denver employee. He earned a bachelor of science degree from Colorado State University and is married with one son.
Gonzales-Gutierrez has worked with victim’s advocates supporting domestic violence victims, as a youth counselor, social caseworker and now director for the Denver Collaborative Partnership.
If elected, Gonzales-Gutierrez would work to make education accessible and affordable from early childhood through college and address affordable housing with legislation and funding that includes housing trusts and expanded tax credits. She would sponsor legislation that combats climate change, protects public lands, water resources and clean air.
The seat is currently held by state Rep. Dan Pabon, (D), who cannot run for reelection. State representatives can serve no more than four consecutive two-year terms.
House District 23
House District 23 (all or some of Wheat Ridge, Lakewood, Applewood, East Pleasant View, the West Colfax corridor/40 West Arts District) features incumbent Democrat Chris Kennedy and Republican challenger Joan Poston.
Kennedy is seeking his second term and wrote on his campaign website that his top priority has been to increase transparency in health care spending. Kennedy sponsored a bill the last two years to require hospitals to submit more data to the state to help analyze price and utilization trends and identify changes to reduce costs.
“Partisan politics and special interest opposition groups killed both bills, but I will continue to bring this legislation forward as we will be unable to address the rising costs of health care without the necessary insight into hospitals’ spending,” Kennedy wrote.
Kennedy received a bachelor of architectural engineering degree from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2002.
Poston’s campaign website explained a 2013 visit to a museum dedicated to President John F. Kennedy at Dealey Plaza in Dallas inspired her to seek political office.
“I believe in citizen government and will serve you, the people of Jefferson County, in the most transparent and honest means possible,” she wrote.
Poston was one of three candidates for an at-large seat on the Denver school board in 2013 and ran for Denver city clerk in 2015. She earned a bachelor of science in microbiology and medical technology degree from Colorado State University, then worked as a medical technologist with Denver Health and the Denver Zoo until retirement. Poston was also a reading assistant in Denver Public Schools for five years and served on the district accountability committee. Poston and her husband have one child.
House District 24
House District 24 (all or some of Wheat Ridge, Edgewater, Arvada, Lakewood, Golden, Lakeside, Mountain View, Applewood, Fairmount and West Pleasant View) has Democrat Monica Duran facing Republican Arthur Erwin.
Duran, a current Wheat Ridge City Council member, defeated former Edgewater mayor Kris Teegardin in the Democratic primary. Erwin had no primary opponent, lives in Golden and his website noted he is the human resource director at a major local auto dealership where he has worked for nearly 30 years.
“I am a firm believer in the Constitution and all it stands for,” Erwin wrote. “I am against abortion. I am also against re-criminalizing it. I am not a professional politician, I haven’t been serving in political jobs and committees. As a result, I still view issues as a member of this community. I will remember who elected me, serving them, the citizens. I am the only candidate who has agreed to voluntary spending limits.”
In 2015, Duran helped lead the campaign for Wheat Ridge Issue 300, a city charter amendment requiring voter approval on tax increment financing. Duran’s website noted she would stand up to the Trump and Betsy DeVos agenda of privatizing the education system, for better teacher pay and expanded vocational and technical training programs for high school students.
Duran wants to let any Coloradan purchase health insurance through the state’s Medicaid program if it’s a cheaper public option for them. 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.
This seat is currently held by state Rep. Jessie Danielson, (D), who is running for the state Senate.
Senate District 20
Senate District 20 (all or some of Lakewood, Wheat Ridge, Arvada, Golden, Morrison, Ken Caryl, Dakota Ridge, Applewood, Fairmount, West Pleasant View, East Pleasant View, Mountain View and Lakeside) features three candidates: Danielson, Republican Christine Jensen and Libertarian Charles Messick. The seat is now held by independent Cheri Jahn, who is not seeking reelection.
Jensen’s website noted she lives in Arvada, is a small business owner and wants to bring “business sense” to state government.
“I worry that with the state budget growing so rapidly, that we, as residents, have become little more than revenue sources for an expanding government, instead of having a state government that is of service to us,” the site read. “I will continue to stand up to those who seek to increase taxes and fees on our hard-working families. I will protect Colorado’s businesses from excessive regulation and government overreach.”
Jensen wants to see Obamacare repealed and replaced with a choice-driven free market approach to health care, would work to develop a strategy to improve roads and bridges with existing state funds, favors school choice, supports the Second Amendment, views “sanctuary cities” as a threat to public safety and “an end-around of our laws (that) must be stopped.” She also would “always defend innocent life.”
Danielson, a Wheat Ridge resident, has focused on equal pay for equal work, fighting elder abuse, getting rid of red tape for veterans looking for a job or college degree and cracking down on wage theft.
According to her website, “As a state representative since 2015, I have worked to protect our local public schools, level the playing field for Coloradans working to get ahead, and create better protections for vulnerable seniors.”
Danielson also sponsored a bill that legalized the use of rain barrels by Colorado homeowners.
She currently serves on the House Appropriations, Agriculture & Natural Resources and Public Health committees. In 2015 Gov. John Hickenlooper appointed her to the Colorado Commission on Aging.
Prior to elected office, she was the Colorado State Director for America Votes, and was instrumental in the passage of the Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act of 2013, which has expanded access to the ballot in Colorado.
Messick’s website noted, “The two main political parties have moved so far to the right and left, that the people who suffer are those who remain in the middle. The only way to fix the communication gap is to elect someone in the middle. I’m in the middle, I’m a Libertarian.”
The site also listed Libertarian priorities of economic and personal liberties and a military sufficient to defend the U.S. against aggression.
Before joining the Libertarian Party in 2016, Messick was an independent.
“I tend to like portions of the beliefs of the two major parties, but not all of either,” he wrote. “My problem with the Democrats and Republicans is that they both spend too much money, wasting our tax dollars. This is because our system is set up to do what is best for politicians’ careers. This must change. I’ve found that the Libertarian belief in limited government suits me well. With that, there can be some fiscal responsibility.”
Senate District 34
Senate District 34 (all or some of Denver, Sloan’s Lake, Berkeley and the West Colfax corridor between Sheridan and Federal boulevards) has Democrat Julie Gonzales, policy director for the Meyer Law Office in Denver, facing Republican Gordon Alley, an associate pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church. Gonzales defeated her two primary opponents while Alley was unopposed.
Among the accomplishments listed on Gonzales’ website is helping draft a bill that allowed Colorado undocumented students to attend college and pay in-state tuition and the creation of immigrant drivers licenses. Gonzales also helped pass legislation to ensure no Denver resources would be spent on immigration enforcement.
Gordon and his wife, Rachel, have 12 children — “nine living and three in heaven through miscarriage” — according to his campaign website. Gordon, his parents, Pastor and Mrs. Rodger Alley, and his sister, Kristina Joy Alley, “have been showing people in Senate District 34 by their example in their life and through Biblical counseling how to have a strong marriage, rear obedient children and prosper financially and in business,” the website reads.
On his campaign Facebook page, Gordon wrote, “I will stand up against evil in the Colorado State Senate by supporting bills that will make our community a safer place for you and your family, not invite criminals to move in!”
The current officeholder is state Sen. Lucia Guzman (D), the assistant minority leader. State senators are limited to two consecutive four-year terms and Guzman cannot seek reelection.