Dottie Lamm Election 2022 Colorado Democrats

Former Colorado first lady and 1998 Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Dottie Lamm, right, greets Penfield Tate, Jr., at the state Democrats' election watch party on Nov. 8, 2022, in downtown Denver.

Former Colorado first lady Dottie Lamm endorsed Denver mayoral candidate Mike Johnston on Thursday, saying his newly released plans to protect reproductive rights and expand childcare demonstrate the leadership the city needs.

“Mike doesn't back down from tough challenges, instead he works with community members and experts to develop the best plan of action,” said Lamm in a statement. “We're seeing this today in Mike's policy plan to protect reproductive freedom and expand access to high-quality child care."

Johnston on Thursday released a proposal his campaign called "comprehensive" and "fully paid-for," including a pledge to protect abortion providers and patients in Denver and a plan to increase child-care availability by offering incentives to employers and expanding after-school and summer programs.

Johnston, a former Democratic state senator, is facing a June 6 runoff against first-time candidate Kelly Brough, a former CEO of the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce. Johnston and Brough were the top two finishers in a crowded field of contenders in the municipal election's first round of voting on April 4.

Lamm, the Colorado Democrats' 1998 U.S. Senate nominee and a former newspaper columnist, has been a prominent women's rights advocate since occupying the governor's mansion from 1975-1987 with her husband, Dick Lamm.

"Mike has the experience, the vision, the leadership skills, the detailed plans, and the ability to bring people together to solve our city's toughest problems and take Denver well into the next decade and beyond," she said in a release. "This is the type of leadership we need from our next mayor. I am proud to support him and to see him commit to addressing the issues women and families face in our city.”

Johnston says in the new reproductive rights and child-care proposal that he'll "vigorously" implement legislation passed this year by the Democratic-controlled legislature by preventing city employees from being forced to take part in proceedings in other states that seek to impose liability or professional sanctions on abortion providers. The plan also includes establishing a public health portal with information on accessing abortion and reproductive health care.

Elements of the plan's child-care component includes converting empty commercial space to child-care facilities, lobbying the state to raise the income level for a program that subsidizes child care and taking the service's availability into account when making zoning changes.

“Denver thrives when every single resident has the opportunity, resources, and support they need to succeed,” Johnston said in a statement. “But right now, we know that women in Denver are facing significant challenges: reproductive freedom is under attack nationwide, child care is increasingly inaccessible, and women are disproportionately bearing the burden of our city’s failure to offer support."

"That’s why today," he continued, "I released my plan to protect abortion access in Denver and invest in affordable, quality child care across our city, because for Denver to be a city for all, we must ensure that we protect everyone’s rights and guarantee access to the health care and child care that families need.”

Brough notes on her campaign site that she's received a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado, the political arm of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, and says she's "honored to receive this acknowledgment of her support for healthcare access for all people."

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