STEVEN WOODROW (I)

Campaign website: woodrowforco.com

Biography

  • I'm State Representative Steven Woodrow from CO House District 6 in Denver. I live in Wash Park with my wife and two sons. We love HD6 and do cool Colorado things like camping, hiking, and shopping at King Soopers (with a mask on!) My dad passed away when I was an infant and we relied largely on my mom, a public school teacher, to get by. We also had the social safety net. I started working at 14 folding T-shirts for my stepdad who had opened a small business but my first real job was as a bag boy at Kroger (the Michigan version of King Soopers).

  • I worked through college (University of Michigan) and then law school (Chicago-Kent, after CU Boulder rejected me). We moved here in 2011 to be closer to my dad’s family. We love HD6 and it has been an honor to serve as your Representative. 

Why do you want this job?

  • I'm the current Representative, and I'm fighting to keep this seat. I've served in the legislature since early February when (then Representative) Chris Hansen moved on to the Senate. Since then I've fought to ensure that Colorado’s response to COVID-19 prioritizes our workers, families, and small businesses. Together with my colleagues we’ve been able to secure—amidst a budget crisis and over $3.1 billion in cuts—$20 million from the federal CARES Act for rental and mortgage assistance. I’ve also co-sponsored SB-217 (Law Enforcement Accountability and integrity Act) as well as our State’s historic repeal of the death penalty. 

  • I’ve always been an advocate for racial, social, environmental, and economic justice. I’ve spent my 15-year legal career litigating complex cases against some of the nation’s largest banks, financial institutions, telemarketers, and debt collectors. Prior to winning the vacancy election (63% of the vote), I served for the past several years as Co-Captain of HD6B—organizing our neighbors to ensure our values were heard.

  • It’s been an honor to serve and live out these values down at the Capitol. No one anticipated this pandemic. It has been an experience working with my colleagues in the legislature—forming the genuine and meaningful relationships necessary to get real change accomplished. I want to go back and continue the important work we’ve started. So much was put on hold due to the crisis. Important gun bills, bills to strengthen our consumer protections, and bills addressing plastic and other pollution were all shelved as we acted to quickly balance our budget and focus on COVID-related priorities.  

  • My fellow legislators want me back. I’ve received over 24 endorsements from elected officials including Congressman Joe Neguse, State Treasurer Dave Young, CO Senators Robert Rodriguez and Julie Gonzales, and Denver Schoolboard Director Tay Anderson. Please vote Woodrow.  

Budgeting in tough times 

(Choose one to answer)

> What is one bill you plan to sponsor that won't cost taxpayers anything?

> What new ideas do you bring in a time of budget cuts?

  • The Legislature just faced an unprecedented crisis and next year is projected to be nearly as bad. This was unexpected and very difficult. The Joint Budget Committee, working together with budgetary analysts, proposed $3.3 billion in cuts that the House then reviewed. These were deep cuts to nearly every program. 

  • It was imperative during these discussions that we acted to avoid the mistakes of the past. Specifically, during the last recession in 2009 the legislature financed the calamity on the backs of students and teachers. We worked tirelessly to limit any increases to the “Budget Stabilization” factor, which is how the State measures how unfunded our schools are. At the same time we worked to preserve the senior property homestead exemption. This was particularly important because an additional measure we took was to refer a repeal of the Gallagher Amendment to the voters. The reason is that if left unchanged, Gallagher would ensure that our local taxation districts—which fund schools, fire departments, and libraries—will experience even deeper cuts on top of what they’re already facing. I also voted to lower our own legislative salaries. 

  • As we were required to be judicious in our cutting and efforts to spread the pain, I’m also proud that we took measures to close certain tax loopholes exploited by the very wealthiest tax filers. While the ultimate bill did not go far enough, I’m pleased that we found nearly $800 million more over the next two years and took a step forward in making our tax code more equitable. 

  • Next year is going to require further cuts. We MUST take action to repeal or reform TABOR. I support Initiative 271, which is designed to fix our tax code so that the rich pay their fair share while 95% get a tax cut.  

Perennial budget issues

(Choose one to answer)

> How do we pay for education?

> How do we pay for transportation?

  • Having served in the legislature, I know that our education funding is a mess. But we fix the problem getting more resources into the system AND ensuring those resources are effectively spent. We must reform TABOR through Initiative 271, closing additional tax loopholes that were just protected by the Senate (and Governor), and repealing the Gallagher Amendment and diverting those resources to public schools. We also need to beat back efforts from Koch-lead organizations to implement an across the board tax cut. Now is the time to make the wealthiest pay their fair share, not to balance the budget on the backs of the poor, sick, and elderly. 

  • We also need to make sure that money is spent fairly. Right now the State school financing formula gives undue weight to cost of living, which has the backwards effect of ensuring that rich districts get even more money. I favor mill levy equalization, which would require local districts to raise more money for schools. 

  • We just closed certain tax loopholes that will ensure approximately $500 million more in funding the next two years. Again, however, we are facing additional cuts next year. We need legislators who understand the issues and demonstrate a commitment to public schools and educators.   

Issues of the pandemic

(Choose one to answer) 

> Is the state reopening too quickly or too slowly?

> Are health care reforms an immediate priority?

> What are the best steps to rebuilding the economy? 

  • No response given.

Working together

(Choose one to answer)

> What is an idea or approach your primary opponent has proposed that you intend to take to the Capitol?

> Name a current or former legislator from the opposing party you admire, and why.

  • No response given  


STEVEN PALETZ

Campaign website: www.paletzforcolorado.com

Biography

  • I am a 5th generation Coloradan, father, husband and community leader living in the Hilltop neighborhood of Denver. Community involvement is my passion and I spend a great deal of time working hard to improve our community. I currently serve as Secretary of the Cranmer Park/Hilltop Civic Association and am active with multiple non-profits located in HD6. I have previously served as president of a number of neighborhood and civic associations and worked in all three branches of government at both the federal and state levels. I am an attorney and my experience ensuring that all voices are heard and at the table is essential to being an effective legislator. I also co-chaired the transition team for the sheriff of Harris County — the third most populous county in the country — and have the experience necessary to effectively assist and lead on criminal justice reform in Colorado.  

Why do you want this job?

  • I live by Gandhi's adage to “be the change that you want to see in the world.” Serving as a Representative in Colorado’s General Assembly is the best way to influence and achieve real change for the people of Colorado. I see our state as not only the most beautiful place in the world, but a place filled with potential; I believe we can do so much more to ensure that the lives of everyday Coloradans are the best they can be. I have not seen enough legislators focused on addressing Colorado’s mental health crisis — namely, having the highest increase in adolescent suicide of any state in the country. I will lead on this issue and work everyday to resolve this crisis. Additionally, I am lucky enough to be raising a daughter in this beautiful state, which is defined by its access to nature and clean, readily available outdoor recreation. I want to take an active role in protecting our land, air, and water through legislation that prioritizes natural resources and ensures the beauty that forms the foundation of Colorado’s spirit and economy is preserved.
  • Finally, while this was not an original motivator for my run, my campaign has coincided with the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. My desire to lead means also helping those struggling out of the economic recession presented by this virus and ensuring that we don’t cut our budgets to the detriment of teacher pay and the education of our children.  I have been inspired by HD6’s reputation for attentive and empathetic elected officials, and would be honored to join their ranks, guaranteeing that the people of HD6 have the representative they deserve.

Budgeting in tough times 

(Choose one to answer)

> What is one bill you plan to sponsor that won't cost taxpayers anything?

> What new ideas do you bring in a time of budget cuts?

  • In a time of budget cuts, the legislature needs to focus on innovative programs that reduce budget expenses but lead to improved outcomes.  I would focus on diverting those with mental health needs to a healthcare setting, not into a prison where they enter a cycle of incarceration, at great expense to taxpayers. This would reduce budget requirements for our prison system, reduce the burden on our criminal courts and help get Coloradans suffering mental health challenges to get the help they need, ultimately reducing costs to taxpayers. I also believe we must innovate our approach to our water crisis, which can be made even more challenging when the state does not have the resources to sufficiently protect our water supply. I would propose legislation — solidifying a statewide policy document to guide water-resource allocation, including addressing water in local comprehensive plans  — that ensures water does not become a political bargaining chip, but rather remains a viable, accessible, and plentiful resource. I would also approach new ideas on expanding opportunities for Coloradans to find attainable housing opportunities by focusing on expanding the use of prefabricated housing, creating more opportunities for community land trusts and offering credit programs that allow for reinvestment into Coloradans looking to purchase their first home. Finally, while ensuring a streamlined economy is essential, I will also ensure that cuts don’t adversely impact education and teachers, who are already underpaid. We must invest in the future while ensuring efficient use of our resources, financial and otherwise.

Perennial budget issues

(Choose one to answer)

> How do we pay for education?

> How do we pay for transportation?

  • Education must remain a funding priority for Colorado. One of the essential functions of our state government is to provide a quality public school education for all Coloradans. In the short term, we fund education by prioritizing its funding over “elective” state programs; however, in the long term, we must find ways to expand the traditional and institute innovative ways to fund our education programming to ensure that students receive the education they require to succeed and teachers are paid what they deserve.
  • Expanding traditional education financing requires an education specific rollback of TABOR and ensuring that we equalize funding across the state. I will not allow the current inequity in education to continue to become worse. We must also explore teacher specific community land trusts and credit programs to provide innovative ways to improve teacher compensation and encourage the additional teachers we require to make Colorado their first choice in a career in education.
  • Innovative sources of funding would include establishing a small fee on land conveyances that are currently fee-free, to contribute towards education funding across the state. We must find equitable and reasonable ways to increase funding for education, and ensure that teacher compensation and reasonable class sizes are budgeted for and achieved as we seek funding for education.

Issues of the pandemic

(Choose one to answer) 

> Is the state reopening too quickly or too slowly?
> Are health care reforms an immediate priority?
> What are the best steps to rebuilding the economy? 

  • The best way to rebuild our state’s economy after a recession or depression is to invest in our state's infrastructure. These projects create job opportunities for the unemployed, ensure state investment remains within Colorado, and provide Colorado the necessary infrastructure to carry us into the future. These projects include roads, highways, public transportation, and replacement of outdated educational facilities. Additionally, this is an opportunity to build Colorado’s renewable energy economy. We can utilize this infrastructure investment in our state to build a clean energy economy, built by Coloradans; and create good paying, permanent jobs that keep Colorado’s factories working and ensure that new jobs are created for Coloradans that are out of work due to COVID-19. I am a strong believer that we can build out of a depression or recession and ensure that investment improves our environment, decreases our carbon footprint, and creates an even stronger state with job opportunities for all Coloradans.
  • Rebuilding the economy also requires supporting our small business community and ensuring that they have the support they need to remain stable through their economic challenges and exit the recession or depression stronger than before. Our small business community are job creators in Colorado and we also must be careful not to finance budget cuts at the expense of Colorado’s working families and small businesses.

Working together

(Choose one to answer)

> What is an idea or approach your primary opponent has proposed that you intend to take to the Capitol?

> Name a current or former legislator from the opposing party you admire, and why.

  • Senator Mitt Romney. Since his election to the Senate, Senator Romney has always transcended party politics, even when under immense pressure to vote with his party, such as at the time of Trump Impeachment. I especially admire his joining with demonstrators in Washington, D.C. speaking out against police brutality, when no other Republican senator was there. The ultimate responsibility of a representative is to stay true to the values that you commit to your constituents when you run for office. This is something that I truly admire about Senator Romney, that he always remains honest and consistent in being guided by his values. This doesn’t mean that I agree with him on policy, but if you legislate from your values and incorporate the policy positions of your constituents that is an admirable quality to me. Far too often today we see members of both parties compromising the values that they promised their constituents would guide them in their representation of their communities. I will stay true to my values and committed to the people I am representing. Bipartisanship is necessary to move forward on a path of healing for our country. Far too often each party stakes out a position on an issue, and there is rarely middle ground for parties to work together. It is my goal to ensure that our legislative body is a place where both parties work together, even when disagreeing, to better the lives of Coloradans.  Senator Romney is one example of a political leader that represents those values that I share.

DAN HIMELSPACH

Campaign website: www.DanForColoradoHouse.com

Biography

  • I’m a lifelong Democrat that has lived in HD 6 for 40 years. My wife and I raised our two children from Kazakhstan here. I grew up on a ranch with no indoor plumbing. I received a B.S. in Chemistry from the South Dakota School of Mines and paid my way through college. I joined ROTC and upon graduation became an officer in the US Army Corps of Engineers. After serving active duty for three years, with Special Forces Units, I obtained my law degree from the University of Denver, College of Law and a Master Negotiation Certificate from Harvard Law School Negotiation Program.
  • In 1990 I changed my law practice into a dispute resolution firm and have mediated almost 7,000 cases, nearly 100 arbitrations, and been appointed as Special Master in cases by the Denver District Court. My family runs a small business selling products to brain researchers worldwide.  

Why do you want this job?

  • I am running to restore the voice of our district and make our state government work for the people that live in our community. I know what it means to lead and what leadership requires. I will take the leadership skills I learned from my military service and the life skills I acquired from 30 years of dispute resolution and in running a small business to the Colorado State House. I know what it means to lead and understand how to listen and represent the needs of this house district.
  • Throughout my life I have been committed to public service, volunteering for neighborhood organizations and working on community projects I have also served in leadership roles with Rotary International, including District Governor for this region and representative to the Rotary International Council on Legislation for three years.
  • As a small business owner, I am committed to ensuring our small businesses thrive and that the workforce which empowers those businesses feel confident in their own family's future. The current health and economic crisis have presented the opportunity to reset many of our budget concerns, including how to fund our state and how to allocate our resources. My background and experience is well suited to tackle this issue.
  • I have dedicated the last thirty years to professional dispute resolution. This is a skill set I want to take to the legislature. I know how to conduct and facilitate negotiations between conflicting parties that reorient everyone from starting positions to collaborating on problem solving that ultimately gives everyone what they do not necessarily want. This experience has also taught me how to be a good listener and how to suggest creative yet pragmatic solutions. 

Budgeting in tough times 

(Choose one to answer)

> What is one bill you plan to sponsor that won't cost taxpayers anything?

> What new ideas do you bring in a time of budget cuts?

  • Colorado's budget is in triage. At a time like this, we clearly see how TABOR and Gallagher handcuff our teachers, arts programs, and community healthcare programs, and prevent them from taking steps to lift our state out of recession. While repealing TABOR and Gallagher is not a new idea, these are the bills standing in the way of any movement. I will lead the fight to repeal TABOR and Gallagher.
  • We must minimize the damage budget cuts are having on education. Some of my new ideas that won’t cost taxpayers anything include preserving the Homestead Tax Exemption for our seniors in need, but this is the opportunity to apply for a means test. Let's look at cutting the budget for private prisons. No one should profit from incarcerations. In light of recent events, I also support allocating some law enforcement funds to community service initiatives.

Perennial budget issues

(Choose one to answer)

> How do we pay for education?

> How do we pay for transportation?

  • Education should be given priority in our budget. We have underfunded education for many years. Additional deep cuts will jeopardize the ability of our neighborhood public school systems to deliver a quality education to our children. A viable public education system is the great leveler in our society and ensures children from poor families have the same opportunities as children from rich families. 
  • This health and economic crisis have presented the opportunity to reset our priorities.  We must take a serious look at robust efforts to improve our infrastructure. As schools have been closed during the pandemic lock down, we find that many students have neither access to the internet nor devices on which to do their work or connect to their teachers. Let's make certain high-speed internet is available everywhere and treated as the utility it is and not a luxury. Let's repair our schools. Such a program will create jobs that are desperately needed in Colorado. 

Issues of the pandemic

(Choose one to answer) 

> Is the state reopening too quickly or too slowly?
> Are health care reforms an immediate priority?
> What are the best steps to rebuilding the economy? 

  • We must take bold steps to rebuild our economy. That means ensuring that Colorado small businesses have access to the small business relief they need to reopen through small business loans and assistance. The way the federal assistance was awarded was a travesty. The huge chains got all the money and small businesses were left out in the cold. We must remedy that through our own state programs. When we bring back our small businesses, we put a lot of people back to work.
  • One way we could help our communities and reemploy many out-of-work would be to build up our infrastructure. We have neglected our infrastructure for years, and our bridges, roads, and highways are in desperate need of repair and Colorado companies should be awarded these jobs. Not only is infrastructure key to our tourism industry as families travel from the front-range to Western Colorado, but it is also necessary to ensure the transport of goods and services for our businesses.
  • Finally, we must ensure we protect the long term public health of Coloradans. This is not just a business issue, it’s a public safety issue and should be a top priority of our government. I propose creating new jobs in public health through contact tracing, which will employ people locally and help us contain this deadly pandemic. 

Working together

(Choose one to answer)

> What is an idea or approach your primary opponent has proposed that you intend to take to the Capitol?

> Name a current or former legislator from the opposing party you admire, and why.

  • My opponent, Steven Paletz, proposes that having health care parity between physical and mental health is a good approach and should be enacted into our laws.

Managing Editor

Linda Shapley has more than 30 years of print and digital news experience. She was Managing Editor of The Denver Post until 2017, overseeing news operations and coverage.

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