People vote by dropping off their ballots in the final day before Election Day in Denver, CO, November 2, 2020. (Kevin Mohatt, Special to The Colorado Sun)

On election day, Coloradans stood together, across race and place, and voted for candidates and ballot issues that benefit all Coloradans, no exceptions. 

For too long, the wealthy few and their massive corporations have tried to divide us based on what we look like, where we come from, or where we live. But in this election, Coloradans came together and voted overwhelmingly for President-elect Joe Biden, Senator-elect John Hickenlooper, progressive candidates in the legislature and a ballot initiative that will establish paid family leave for all Colorado workers. 

We voted for the opportunity to work with people who want to govern alongside community in order to benefit all of us: Black, Native, People of Color, or White.

Carmen Medrano, Lizeth Chacon

Colorado voters passed paid family medical leave – Proposition 118 –  with an extraordinary double-digit margin. For families without paid leave – especially in low-income communities and communities of color – working people must choose between prioritizing family and a crucial paycheck when serious illness strikes. Many are literally faced with the decision of whether to pay the rent or put food on the table when their pay is reduced. 

United for a New Economy Action member Refugio Venegas, a former transit supervisor, could have avoided severe depression and homelessness had he had paid family leave in 2016. After struggling with three episodes of pneumonia leading to serious kidney disease, he depleted his paid time off, surrendered his commercial driver’s license due to the state of his health and lost his job. His family was so financially stressed, they couldn’t keep up with their mortgage payments and they lost their home. 

Hardworking Coloradans should never face this economic tragedy on top of a health emergency.

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Coloradans voted in droves for this new program to allow workers to care for themselves and their families without going bankrupt, defeating massive corporations and certain politicians who killed paid family medical leave bills six times in the state legislature. 

We showed that when the people get to decide, they will vote to advance policies that allow us all to live a dignified life. This year has tested us like no other and we’re pulling through it by pulling together, which means investing in the services and people that keep Colorado healthy, safe and thriving. 

This November, voters rejected politicians who have sought to blame new immigrants, Black people and people struggling to make ends meet in an effort to distract us from their inaction on the issues that matter most to us. 

Colorado voters decisively ousted U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner because he put himself and wealthy lobbyists first, giving tax breaks to wealthy corporations rather than investing in the future of all Coloradans.  He turned his back on our immigrant community and paid the electoral price for refusing to protect our healthcare and literally hiding from us, his constituents. 

Now we will work with Senator-elect John Hickenlooper to make the way for all Coloradans, no exceptions. We expect each of our elected officials to partner with our communities to make sure families have what they need to prosper: A safe and affordable home; the ability to earn a good living, stay healthy and retire in dignity; the opportunity to provide a bright future for our children; and the freedom to start a new life in the United States without fear.

No matter what we look like, where we live, our immigration status, or what’s in our wallets, we want a Colorado that works for all of us. That’s why we voted in record numbers for our families and our futures. 

We elected our new leaders to confront the crises our families face, not to shy away.  That means more than just responding to an emergency like COVID-19; it means investing in us and our collective future. 

Now is the time for those we elected to unite across differences and make policy choices that help all of us in pursuit of a healthy and thriving Colorado.

Carmen Medrano is the executive director of United for a New Economy Action. Lizeth Chacon is the executive director of the Colorado People’s Action. 

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Special to The Colorado Sun