McCluskie column: Marching on for Colorado’s HD 61 | PostIndependent.com

McCluskie column: Marching on for Colorado’s HD 61

Julie McCluskie
Guest Opinion

Julie McCluskie

This year in Colorado, activism surged. Thousands of men, women and children marched for a variety of causes: women's rights, climate action, public education and school safety. This level of engagement has inspired many of us. However, with every march comes the question, "Now what?"

How do we capture this passionate energy and transform it into meaningful action at the local, state and national levels?

Here's how: We elect candidates to Colorado's state Legislature, like myself, who are responsive to the people in their communities and ready to work collaboratively across party lines to solve the problems we face.

Problems like our shortfall in funding public education. Thanks in large part to the leadership of our own Rep. Millie Hamner, school districts across the state will receive more funding for educating students than ever before. I testified for two bills that passed both chambers and now await the governor's signature. Both will address our teacher shortages by helping rural communities attract and retain teachers by investing in high-quality teacher preparation and residency programs.

While we have not resolved the deeper challenges that keep us from long-term equitable and adequate funding for public education, our Legislature took steps in the right direction.

Unfortunately, there were also examples where hard-working legislators ran headfirst into unnecessarily divisive partisan politics. Rep. Chris Kennedy (D-Lakewood) and Rep. Bob Rankin (R-Carbondale) carried a reinsurance bill that would have reduced insurance rates for many in our rural communities by as much as 30 percent.

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Health care costs in our part of Colorado are some of the highest in the nation and create a weighty burden for our local working families. Reinsurance, essentially insurance for insurance companies, has been successful in several other states and is a promising solution to Colorado's high-cost insurance marketplace.

There was also the tragic failure of Rep. Alec Garnett's (D-Denver) and Rep. Cole Wist (R-Centennial) bipartisan Red Flag Law. This law was a sensible gun safety measure that would have protected our communities from people experiencing major mental health issues. An impressive number of law enforcement representatives and community leaders stood in support of this bill. I believe this measure was a responsible and prudent step toward protecting our communities from future gun violence.

I believe these bills laid out real, workable solutions on challenges facing our state. I'm disappointed that both were defeated in committee before Coloradans had their chance to give their full input on the bills.

I was a member of the Women's March in Denver in 2017 and joined this year's Women's Marches in Gunnison and Crested Butte. While marching and talking with members of these communities, I heard many folks applaud the work of Rep. Millie Hamner. However, it is clear there is more work to be done.

Please help me pick up the torch and continue the march to the state Capitol for good, honest and responsive representation. I'm working hard at getting to know the people and the issues across the five counties of this district, and I hope to earn your vote this November.

Julie McCluskie is a candidate for Colorado House District 61, which includes Pitkin County, Lake County and portions of Gunnison and Delta counties.