I understand our community's concerns because I grew up here.
This is the place that made me the person I am today and taught me my Colorado values of opportunity, independence, and responsibility.
Colorado Raised, Colorado Values
I grew up right here and went to Littleton Public Schools from kindergarten through graduation at Arapahoe High School. Today, my parents still live here, and so do my aunt, uncle, cousins, in-laws, and many friends old and new.
I’ve also worked with people from across the entire state, from the San Luis Valley, the Western Slope, the Eastern Plains, and all along the Front Range. That’s part of why I've been so successful in building diverse, bipartisan coalitions with folks from all around the state to pass laws that benefit our community.
A few years ago I earned a Master's of Divinity degree from Harvard. It's one of the most religiously diverse schools in the country, with people of all faiths and none. My time there helped me further develop the ability to bring diverse groups of people together around shared values—whatever the source of those values.
We have so much in common as Coloradans that when we set aside specific policy proposals, and instead look at what fundamental values are at stake, we can often find a unique Colorado solution that moves our state forward.
While earning my master's degree I met my wife, AnnMarie. She noticed my cowboy boots from across the room, came over and said, “Nice boots.” Feeling out of place and thinking she had just insulted me, I shot back, “Look, I’m from Colorado, so I can wear cowboy boots.” Without missing a beat, AnnMarie replied, “Yeah, I’m from Colorado too, and I like your boots.”
Making Government Work
Even before winning my election to the State Senate, my biggest wins came from bringing people together around shared values—across parties, across ideologies, and even across faiths.
PROTECTED MILITARY LIVES WITH BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION
When I worked for Ken Salazar in the US Senate, we received a letter from a Coloradan serving in Iraq. His friend was killed by an IED while sitting in the gunner's seat of a Humvee. He asked about automated turrets he'd seen that would have saved his friend's life.
I looked into the program and Congress was in the process of eliminating it, even though the commanders I spoke with in Iraq raved about it. I worked with top Democrats and Republicans in the Senate to not only save the program, but expand it. Today there are thousands of these systems saving the lives of our military men and women overseas.
PROTECTED LGBT RIGHTS IN A PRESIDENTIAL ORDER
Late into his second term, President Obama signed an executive order banning LGBT discrimination by federal contractors and employers. He faced significant pressure to include a Hobby Lobby-style religious exemption, which would have made the whole thing toothless.
As Associate Vice President at Union Theological Seminary, I connected people from across faiths—including Protestants, Catholics, Muslims and Jews—who were opposed to the exemption. We insisted that people of faith should be exemplary, not exempted. By working together, we protected the rights of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.