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Meet Colorado’s out legislative candidates -- Article by Out Front Colorado

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Meet Colorado’s out legislative candidates -- Article by Out Front Colorado

A record number of out LGBT candidates for state legislature are on Colorado ballots this Nov. 6. Get to know them here.

Colorado has eight out state legislative candidates on the ballot this year – five new faces and three incumbents. Colorado’s other out legislator, Sen. Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, is not up for re-election this year. Two of the candidates, Democratic Sen. Pat Steadman, the incumbent, and Republican Michael Carr, are running against each other. If 7 of the 8 candidates win, Colorado will rank in the 3 most LGBT-inclusive legislatures in the U.S.


 

oann Ginal – Democrat for HD-52 in Fort Collins

Joann Ginal

Democratic house candidate Joann Ginal is running her first campaign, hoping to replace Democratic Rep. John Kefalas who is running for a state senate seat. Ginal, a biologist, naturalist and former college instructor with a Ph.D. in reproductive endocrinology, also has a masters degree in zoology and has campaigned on protecting environmental resources and high-tech jobs. Ginal won her primary handily at her county’s Democratic General Assembly in March.

HD-52 is a competitive district in Larimer County encompassing the eastern half of Fort Collins between College Ave. and I-25. It borders the Colorado State University main campus directly West of the district. North of Mullberry St., HD-52 extends west to Loomis Ave. The district extends to the Budweiser Brewery and Long Pond Reservoir on the north end, and Fossil Creek Reservoir on the South end.

Why did you decide to run as an Out lesbian or gay candidate?

The time has come to run as an LGBT candidate.  I believe in openness and transparency and I refuse to hide who I am.  If I am honest about this, I will be honest about the issues that affect our community, like education and healthcare.  Our government lacks honesty and I can bring a much-needed change to the Colorado House.

What are the top issues you’re running on in this election?

Education, Economy, Healthcare and the Environment.

Has being an Out candidate affected this campaign for you? How, why or why not?

No.  I have family and friends who are incredibly supportive and a community that is, for the most part, inclusive of the LGBT community.  Fort Collins is an incredible city to live in and I will be honored and proud to represent it.

 


Mark Ferrandino – Democrat for HD-2 in Denver (incumbent)

Mark Ferrandino

Democratic Rep. Mark Ferrandino was appointed to represent House District 2 in 2007 by a vacancy committee, was re-elected twice and is now running for his fourth 2-year term. Ferrandino, who has served on the Joint Budget Committee, became the House Democratic Leader in November 2011 and could become Colorado’s first out House Speaker in 2013 if Democrats win a House majority. In 2011 and 2012 Ferrandino carried Colorado’s civil unions bill in the House, and introduced it during the special legislative session this year.

The strongly-Democratic HD-2 in South-Central Denver includes Denver’s Capitol Hill/Cheesman Park neighborhoods between Broadway and Downing, Washington Park, the University of Denver and surrounding neighborhoods, Baker and part of Uptown.

Why did you decide to run as an Out lesbian or gay candidate?

I have been out since I was in college and it never even crossed my mind to not be truthful about who I am.  I wanted to run for office to help move Colorado forward, and my sexual orientation doesn’t have an impact on my ability to do that.

What are the top issues you’re running on in this election?

I am working to ensure that we can help improve our economy and create jobs.  This is by ensuring we use tax dollars smartly by spending them in Colorado, and ensuring we make the strategic investments needed in our education system.

Has being an Out candidate affected this campaign for you?

It has not impacted my campaign.  Being the sponsor of the civil unions bill has helped me to show a concrete example to people across my district about the work I am doing at the capitol to fight for equal rights for all Colorado families.

 


Paul Rosenthal – Democrat for HD-9 in Denver

Paul Rosenthal

Democratic house candidate Paul Rosenthal is running for a first term in Colorado’s legislature. Rosenthal is a social studies teacher at a youth correctional facility, and vice-chair of the Denver Community Corrections board. Rosenthal ran unsuccessfully for Denver’s city council in 2003 and for the House in 2008.

Democratic-leaning HD-9 in Southeast Denver includes the City of Glendale, and extends South through the Virginia Village, Goldsmith, Hampden and Hamden South neighborhoods.

Why did you decide to run as an Out lesbian or gay candidate?

All my life I have been driven to public service.  I have volunteered countless hours for organizations in the LGBT community such as Stonewall Democrats and in the community at large, such as the Denver Community Corrections Board.  I have been out for over 10 years, so it was natural for me to be out when running in this race.

What are the top issues you’re running on in this election?

First of all, we must restore the funding that has been cut to K-12 education and higher education over the years.  We also have to invest in our infrastructure, our roads, bridges, highways, and light rail.  The state can do a better job of partnering banks with small businesses to start and grow them.  Colorado has a lot more potential of being promoted internationally as a tourist and trade destination.

Has being an Out candidate affected this campaign for you?

There doesn’t seem to be much reaction to my candidacy as an out gay man.  People are supporting me because of my current experience as a teacher, my background having been a legislative director for a nonprofit working on a bipartisan basis passing juvenile justice legislation, and my long time involvement in the community and in leadership in the Democratic Party.  I think I am a candidate who happens to be gay rather than being the gay candidate.

 


Pat Steadman – Democrat for SD-31 in Denver (incumbent)

Pat Steadman

Democratic State Sen. Pat Steadman is best known for leading Colorado’s effort to pass civil unions, introducing The Colorado Civil Union Act in 2011 and 2012. Steadman, who was an attorney and lobbyist for progressive issues with Mendez Steadman & Associates, was first appointed to represent Senate District 31 when Sen. Jennifer Veiga vacated it in 2009 and was elected to carry the remainder of Veiga’s term in 2010. Steadman is now running for a full four-year term.

Strongly-Democratic SD-31 in South-Central Denver includes Denver’s Capitol Hill, Cheesman Park between Broadway, 8th Avenue and Colfax, then curves south to Congress Park, Hale, Montclair, Hilltop, Lowry, Cherry Creek, Glendale, Hampden and Hampden South to the Northern border of the Denver Tech Center.

Why did you decide to run as an Out lesbian or gay candidate?

I think it’s important to be honest about who you are. Yes, I’m a gay man and I’ve been out my entire adult life.

What are the top issues you’re running on in this election?

I’m running for reelection on my record of leadership and accomplishments. My work on the Joint Budget Committee has given me a broad range of experience with every department and agency of state government. 2013 will be the year we pass civil unions in Colorado. I’ve championed criminal justice reforms and I’m adamant about making fiscal reforms a top priority for the new legislature.

Has being an Out candidate affected this campaign for you?

I don’t think my being out has a big impact on my candidacy. Some people may vote for or against me because I’m an out gay man, but I think most people are more interested in my experience and policy positions. That said, I do believe being out makes my work on civil unions more forceful and compelling. We can’t win without straight allies, but we can lead the charge.

 


Dominick Moreno – Democrat for HD-32 in Adams County 

Dominick Moreno

Born and raised in Adams County, Democratic House candidate Dominick Moreno in 2009 became the youngest city council member in Commerce City’s history in 2009 also served as Mayor Pro Tempore. Moreno was a legislative aide to Rep. Crisanta Duran and to Rep. Ed Casso, who currently represents the district and was one of Moreno’s first endorsers. Moreno, a graduate of Georgetown University in Washington D.C., would also be the youngest serving member of Colorado’s General Assembly at age 27 when sworn in January 2013.

Democratic-leaning HD-32 in suburbs north of Denver in Adams County includes Commerce City and neighborhoods along the North and East borders of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal. It also extends to the west across I-25 through North Washington and Berkeley to Sheridan Blvd.

Why did you decide to run as an Out lesbian or gay candidate?

Voters expect you to be upfront and honest about who you are as a person and as a candidate. I chose to run as an openly gay candidate because I want voters to know that I am a candidate who is capable of earning their trust and support.

What are the top issues you’re running on in this election?

There are many issues that are important to residents of House District 32- like developing a strong economy with access to good-paying jobs, a fair education system that gives students a top-notch education regardless of where they live and making sure that we have a transportation network that adequately funds roads and public transportation. I’m running to bring a strong community voice to the State House on these issues because they’re the values that are important to me and to my community.

Has being an Out candidate affected this campaign for you?

I believe most voters want a representative that they know will make sound decisions on their behalf, regardless of a candidate’s sexual orientation. Running as an out candidate has not affected my campaign because at the end of the day, voters care about electing the best person to stimulate our local economy and ensure a quality public education for every child.

 


Michael Carr – Republican for SD-31 in Denver

Michael Carr

Republican state senate candidate Michael Carr became the first out Republican state legislative nominee in Colorado history this August by a GOP committee’s appointment when the previous candidate dropped out. Running against openly gay Sen. Pat Steadman, Carr’s candidacy made headlines as a race between two gay men. This summer Carr led a push for the Republican Party in Denver County to officially support civil unions – and the bill that his current opponent introduced in the legislature – but was unsuccessful. Carr is on the national board of the Log Cabin Republicans, served on Jon Huntsman’s steering committee during the GOP primary and worked for civil unions in Illinois before moving to Denver with his partner in 2011.

Strongly-Democratic SD-31 in South-Central Denver includes Denver’s Capitol Hill, Cheesman Park between Broadway, 8th Avenue and Colfax, then curves south to Congress Park, Hale, Montclair, Hilltop, Lowry, Cherry Creek, Glendale, Hampden and Hampden South to the Northern border of the Denver Tech Center.

Why did you decide to run as an Out lesbian or gay candidate?

First off, I was asked to run, and I accepted the call. I would never have run as a closeted candidate; I’m proud of my orientation. It makes me a unique candidate on the Republican ticket.

What are the top issues you’re running on in this election?

As I talk to voters in Senate District 31, their top concerns are simple: the economy and education. As a possible future spokesperson for those voters, those are my top concerns as well.  Obviously, I’m also concerned about passing civil unions and making the case for civil unions within the Republican Party.

Has being an Out candidate affected this campaign for you?

Well, it certainly makes my conversation with voters a bit more interesting. Most people don’t consider me to be a “typical Republican.” I’m happy to break the stereotype and push the political envelope.

 


Jessie Ulibarri – Democrat for SD-21 in Adams County

Jesse Ulibarri

Born in Commerce City and raised in north Denver metro suburbs, state senate candidate Jessie Ulibarri has a long engagement with public policy – serving on Denver’s GLBT commission, and was Public Policy Director for the American Civil Liberties Union in 2010 and 2011. The University of Colorado, Boulder graduate was legislative director of the CU Student Union and has served as a board member for One Colorado’s Political Action Committee, the Colorado Latino Forum and the Colorado Democratic Party’s State Central Committee. Ulibarri and his partner, Louis, have two children.

Democratic-leaning Senate District 21 in suburbs north of Denver in Adams County includes Commerce City, Reunion, North Washington and Berkeley, as well as the southeastern portion of Westminster west of Sheridan and south of 88th avenue and Thornton’s neighborhood of Welby south of 88th avenue.

Why did you decide to run as an Out lesbian or gay candidate?

As a 3rd generation Adams County resident and a working dad raising two kids, I know the struggles facing our community. I have worked in nonprofit advocacy for the last decade, advancing economic policies that build opportunity for all people in Colorado and I want to continue that work in the state senate. I have always been open and honest about who I am, and it was never a question of whether or not I would be out in this campaign. I think the voters appreciate honesty, especially in this highly politicized environment.

What are the top issues you’re running on in this election?

Building economic self-sufficiency for all Colorado residents, enhancing educational opportunities and reforming our state Constitutional fiscal policies.

Has being an Out candidate affected this campaign for you?

As an out candidate, I am often asked about very personal aspects of my life (e.g. our adoption, parenting responsibilities, etc.). By being open and honest about who I am, I believe voters understand that our lives look very similar – we love our families, we work hard and we believe that we need an economy that works for everyone. Starting a conversation rooted in honesty and personal experience has been the best way to connect with voters.

 


Sue Schafer – Democrat for HD-24 in Jefferson County (incumbent)

Sue Schafer

Democratic Rep. Sue Schafer was elected to represent HD-24 in 2008, narrowly winning the primary but winning the general election by a wider margin. She won re-election in 2010 and is now running for a third term, and has sponsored bills ranging from collecting workforce needs statistics for state universities and colleges, to protecting seniors from abuse by caregivers. Before serving in the legislature Schafer was a teacher and school counselor, and worked on determining curriculum for the Colorado Department of Education. She is a member of Wheat Ridge Congregational Church.

HD-24 is a competitive district in suburbs west of Denver in Jefferson County that includes Wheat Ridge and Downtown Golden, the Colorado School of Mines campus and surrounding Golden neighborhoods between North Table Mountain Park and Green Mountain Park.

Why did you decide to run as an Out lesbian or gay candidate?

My constituents in the central Jefferson County suburbs value honesty and integrity. They are tolerant and open-minded people. They are more concerned about jobs, education and health care than a candidate’s private life. I am running for my third term in the Colorado House of Representatives, District 24.

What are the top issues you’re running on in this election?

The top issues for my constituents are creating good jobs and an economy built to last. To have a strong economy we must have quality education—K-12, community college, technical and trades, and higher education especially in the areas where there is market demand: health care, science, technology, engineering and math. I’m also running on affordable, quality health care for all Coloradans including those who are LGBT. I always advocate for civil unions and other civil rights for women, ethnic minorities, workers, and other marginalized groups.

Has being an Out candidate affected this campaign for you?

Very few voters have asked about my personal life and I address their major concerns about jobs, education, health care, and protection of the environment. Being LGBT is a lower priority for my voters in the suburbs who want someone who will fight to solve what they perceive to be the most serious problems in Colorado and the nation. When LGBT topics do come up my voters are very supportive of civil unions.

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