My family and I have lived in Colorado state Senate District 27, centered on Centennial, since 1976. I was raised here, and I’m raising my family here.
In that time, I have come to know my community well — its businesses, its shops and restaurants, its parks and open spaces, its people. I’ve also witnessed firsthand the evolution of its values.
I have followed our local politics closely from our school board races up to our representation at the state Capitol, and I have almost never missed an election.
Unsurprisingly, when state Sen. Jack Tate announced he wasn’t going to run again, operatives from both sides of the aisle began eyeing our district. They knew a win here could play an important role in the political balance of power at the state Capitol and be a critical chess piece in larger political games and agendas.
But as a resident and a voter, it meant something very different to me. For me and my family, this election, as with all elections, was about the issues.
I read former Senate candidate Suzanne Staiert’s recent Opinion essay in The Colorado Sun reflecting on the pressure and scrutiny she was under throughout this race as the Republican candidate. I’m sure it’s comforting to Staiert to think that she lost because she was outspent during her campaign or that the opposition “cared less about winning and more about destroying” her. (Staiert was defeated by Democrat Chris Kolker by a 10-percentage-point margin.)
But I can tell you that she lost my vote not because of any ad I saw or mailer I received, but because she is out of touch with the issues that I, and other voters in my district, care about.
Colorado voters repeatedly vote down anti-abortion-rights measures at the ballot. Just recently, Staiert served as an attorney for Proposition 115, which would have banned abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy; the measure was defeated by a 59%-41% margin at the ballot.
Her stances on other issues important for the health and safety of families are out of touch with my own. So many families in Senate District 27 continue to see their health-care costs increase, regardless of what party they belong to. I was disappointed to learn that Staiert, when she was asked for her views on public-option health insurance, said she did not “support expanding a plan that would allow the government to set health-care rates and require health-care providers to accept them.” A public option would go a long way to increasing access to affordable health care in our state.
And finally, as we watch the validity of our elections challenged on a national stage, her reluctance to support measures to increase election transparency and accessibility – like her opposition last year to a campaign-finance enforcement measure, Senate Bill 232 – was concerning to me.
District 27 has changed and Staiert’s positions are reflective of a different electorate. It’s fair to say that on these issues, Staiert’s positions were in complete opposition to the majority of District 27 voters, including my own.
We knew this race would garner a lot of attention, and I would certainly assume anyone running for this seat would have understood that as well. Both sides of the aisle play politics and play to win. But there were many hotly contested races this last election cycle – including some that were won by Republican candidates.
Notably, the Republican candidates that retained their state legislative seats have more moderate views and work often with their Democratic counterparts.
I understand that Staiert feels that she was unfairly targeted by her opposition and that it cost her the election. There is undoubtedly too much outside money in our elections, which is something we should take up in Congress and with our state legislature.
But for my family and me, this race wasn’t about playing games or destroying anyone. It was about protecting what we value: access to affordable health care, a fair democracy, and leaving decisions about reproductive health care to Coloradans and their doctors.
It was about the issues.
Ana Hernandez is a Colorado Senate District 27 voter and longtime resident.
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