Adams County Commissioner Charles "Chaz" Tedesco on Monday joined the Democratic primary to represent Colorado's new 8th Congressional District.
“Working people need a voice in Congress from someone who has lived the life of a worker,” said Tedesco, a Navy veteran and former union president, in a statement.
“I know what it is like to feel forgotten and left behind. Politicians come and go and make all kinds of promises without fully delivering meaningful improvements to our lives. I’ll make a promise to you today: I will never forget you and I’ll always show up for all of us, every day."
Said Tedesco in a campaign email sent Monday: "We can defeat this pandemic, give folks access to better health care, strengthen voting rights and combat the climate crisis. But we need to do it together."
Tedesco joins fellow Democrat state Rep. Yadira Caraveo of Thornton, a pediatrician, in a primary in the district, whose boundaries have yet to be finalized. Political newcomer Giulianna "Jewels" Gray, a wedding photographer, is the only Republican who has filed to run for the seat.
Tedesco was elected last year to a third term as commissioner. He's worked for more than three decades as a master industrial mechanic at Koppers Inc., an international manufacturing company with a plant in Denver, and was president of the United Steel Workers of America Local 8031 union from 2005 to 2013.
"My story starts right here in a foster home in Colorado, where a brave young couple took a chance on a kid that nobody wanted," Tedesco says in a video released Monday by his campaign. "They took me in, and they showed me more love than I have ever known."
Renee Bernhard, co-founder and executive director of Foster Source, a nonprofit advocacy and support organization based in Thornton, praised Tedesco's "tireless work" championing reforms to the foster care system in a statement provided by his campaign.
“Chaz has produced concrete results including the creation of ‘Homes for Hope,’ a facility for children in care to avoid being placed far away from their birth families,” she said.
Maria Gonzalez, founder and CEO of Adelante Community Development, a nonprofit in Adams County that works with Hispanic small business owners, said Tedesco helped make sure the community had access to COVID-19 vaccines.
“When funding for vaccines became available, Chaz worked to make sure vaccines were available to underserved communities,” Gonzalez said in a statement provided by the campaign. “Thanks to a team effort led by Chaz, over 10,000 underserved Adams County residents have been vaccinated."
An independent redistricting commission voted last week to adopt a final congressional district map that bases Colorado's 8th District in the Adams County suburbs north of Denver, stretching up the Interstate 25 corridor to Greeley.
As drawn, the district is considered competitive with a slight advantage for Democratic candidates, based on recent elections. President Joe Biden carried the district over former President Donald Trump by 4.6 points, but Trump won the district by 1.7 points in 2016.
If approved by the Colorado Supreme Court, the new district would contain the highest concentration of Hispanic voters in the state at 38.5%. Several advocacy organizations contend the commission didn't meet legal requirements to reflect Hispanic and Latino influence around the state and are challenging the map.
Caraveo's campaign spokesman welcomed Tedesco the race in a statement to Colorado Politics.
"Dr. Caraveo grew up in Adams County and has spent nearly a decade serving her community in Thornton as a pediatrician, and, more recently, as a state legislator," Elana Schrager said in an email.
"Dr. Caraveo’s personal and professional experience — and her track record of getting things done — make it clear that she is the best-prepared person to stand up for families and communities across the 8th Congressional District."
Colorado Politics reported Friday that Republican state senators John Cooke, Kevin Priola and Barbara Kirkmeyer are considering running in the district.
At least two Hispanic advocacy organization says they're planning to challenge the map, on the grounds that it dilutes minority voting rights.