Herod Replaces McCann In HD8
By Rep.-Elect Leslie Herod, Special to the GPHN
On Nov. 8, I became representative-elect for House District 8, which includes much of Park Hill.
During my campaign I attended many community meetings and neighborhood gatherings, knocked on many doors and joined many conversations around kitchen tables and in people’s living rooms. I heard a great deal from the community about the need for criminal justice reform, affordable housing and ensuring that all our children have access to a quality education. I spoke a lot about these topics on the campaign. My priorities have not changed. These were the recurring messages I heard from constituents and I remain committed to these priorities as an elected official.
In the area of criminal justice reform, I think many of us realize that as a society, we have relied far too much for far too long on jails and prisons. This approach has not made our communities safer. Diversion programs, when and where appropriate, mental health treatment when needed and common-sense sentencing reform are better for all of us in the long run.
Additionally, I will focus doing more to help those getting out of prison become productive members of our community. The Colorado Department of Corrections tells us that 96 percent of Colorado prisoners will be released and live among us as our neighbors. It is best to invest scarce state resources on supportive services that help them re-enter our communities in ways that keep us all safe rather than the costly alternative of returning them to prison. Look for legislation around sentencing reform and re-entry initiatives in the upcoming legislative session.
Educating all our children is important for Colorado’s economy and an integral part of the strategy to ensure the strength and resiliency of our neighborhoods. During the 1990s, Colorado spent about $500 less per student than the national average. Today, the gap is more than three times that – around $1,800. I will advance policies that recognize the value of K-12 education for all our children. I am well aware of the budget constraints our state faces and boosting education funding will not be easy. But I look forward to the challenge and working with my colleagues to tackle this serious issue.
We need innovative strategies and solutions around affordable housing. The state cannot sit idly by while many long-term community members are forced out of their homes. I know there is much talk about construction defects legislation and I owe it to House District 8 to listen to all sides of this issue with an open mind. If such legislation is to move through the legislature, it must safeguard homeowners against shoddy construction and provide real opportunities for affordable housing. There are other strategies to explore as well, including housing trust funds and tax incentives.
I have been appointed to serve on the House Judiciary and Finance committees. Both these committees are a perfect fit for my experience in public policy and community advocacy. Significantly, they also serve as the perfect platform to advance aspects of my legislative agenda and provide the opportunity to respond to legislative efforts that take us in the wrong direction.
There has been a lot of talk about how Colorado politics at the Capitol may be affected by the national election. Without a doubt, many of us are unhappy with the presidential election outcome. Our president-elect’s campaign was filled with rhetoric and promises that do not reflect our Colorado values. My legislative priorities will not embrace them in any fashion. Regardless of what happens at the federal level, we must be a Colorado for everyone. There will be no walls built in Colorado and our civil liberties will not be trampled upon. Colorado women must have continued access to reproductive health care and we must fight against all forms of discrimination and hate in our communities and in our laws.
I am inspired by the agenda set forth by our leader in the Democratic caucus, House Speaker-designate Crisanta Duran. She is committed to working on both sides of the aisle to advance quality schools, our state’s transportation needs and making sure we leave no one behind in Colorado’s growing and changing economy. Those priorities will be mine as we work to make Colorado a better place for all of us.
I want our community to know that my promise is always to listen to the needs of House District 8 and to take their voices with me to the Colorado State Capitol as we work to craft bold policies that will move Colorado forward.
Democratic Rep.-elect Leslie Herod replaces Beth McCann representing House District 8. Herod can be reached at 303-642-5775. Rep. McCann, who was term-limited from that office, was elected Denver District Attorney in November.