27 April 2009

Colorado State Senate District 31 Candidates

On May 20, 2009, a vacancy committee will choose a successor to Democrat Jennifer Veiga of West Washington Park in Colorado's State Senate District 31, due to her resignation, made in order to be more available to care for her partner's aging mother in Australia.

Colorado Senate District 31 include parts of Arvada and Westminister in Adams County, and parts of the City of Denver in the downtown core and the northern part of Denver including most of Denver neighborhoods Berkley, Globeville, Elyria-Swansea, Five Points, Coor's Field, LoDo, Downtown, Golden Triangle, Lincoln Park, Baker, Capital Hill, Alamo Placita, Byers, West Washington Park and Valverdre. It is a safe Democratic Party District, with voter registration 42% Democratic and 18% Republican, and unaffiliated voters who are at least 50% likely to vote Democratic. About 40% of the District is in Denver and 60% in Adams County, as measured by voters on election day. The district includes low income, working class, middle class and upper middle class neighborhoods, many of which have experienced significant gentrification since Denver's last major real estate bust in 1982-83.

The following is an unofficial list of candidates running for Colorado's State Senate District 31 in the race, in no particular order:

1. Elmer "Butch" Hicks, a former Westminster City Councilmember, former State Democratic Party Treasurer and current Adams County Democratic Party Treasurer. He is a union member who is a bus driver and training instructor for RTD and is African American.

2. Ann Ragsdale served in the Colorado State House (HD35), and ran against Jennifer Viega for this Senate Vacancy in 2006. She hales from Adams County.

3. Pat Steadman, of Capital Hill in Denver, is a state level lawyer-lobbyist for progressive causes at Mendez, Steadman and Associates who was previously a lawyer for a union. He has been active in the Democratic Party, including the Stonewall Democrats.

4. Alex Sanchez, of Denver, is a precinct committee person who has been active in the Democratic Party, including the Stonewall Democrats, and works as the spokesperson for the Denver Public Schools, after years in the healthcare industry.

5. Jill Conrad, of Denver, is an at large Denver Public School Board member who works as an education consultant and has been civicly active in Denver.

6. John Maslanik, of Denver, previously ran for RTD Board of Directors, District A, and was endorsed by the Denver County Democratic Party in that race. He has served for many years as Chairman of the Downtown Democratic Forum and has been active in the Democratic Party. He served his neighborhood as President of the Downtown Denver Residents Organization and as a member of the Citizens Advisory Commission of the new Denver Justice Center.

7. Patrick Byrne, of Denver, is a budget and policy analyst at the Colorado Department of Transportation, and a dual citizen of the U.K. and U.S. He notes that he "is a product of the Washington, D.C. public schools."

The vacancy committee (of which I am a member), basically includes all precinct committee people, party officials and elected officials who are Democrats in the district. Additional information can be found at the Democratic Party of Denver website.

This is a very competitive and diverse field. Three candidates have been elected to public office, and those who have not have notable qualifications. I have been contacted by most of them during their campaigns and have not committed to a candidate at this time.