Colorado Educators Celebrate More Election Wins

Pro-public education candidates, local funding measures add to Polis victory to help Colorado students thrive

DENVER – More than 17,000 Colorado educators marched to the Capitol in April, then we marched to the ballot box in Election 2018 for the schools our students deserve. The collective action of educators led to public schools and students being the centerpiece of this election for candidates on both sides of the aisle.

The balance of power in the Colorado Senate will shift in favor of public schools and students when the legislative session opens in January. Voters elected senators who ran on education issues in hotly contested races. Educators made key contributions to get out the vote in their communities.

“For many years, students and schools missed out on a lot of opportunities when great bills were defeated in the Senate, often for purely partisan advantage,” said Amie Baca-Oehlert, high school counselor and president of the Colorado Education Association. “We elected senators tonight who can change the tone from obstruction to collaboration, and who will respect educators as the professionals we are and trust us with autonomy to do our jobs. We look forward to holding the newly elected officials accountable for putting their commitments into action this legislative session.”

In addition to Governor-elect Polis, CEA members are pleased to congratulate Dave Young on his election win tonight to become the next state treasurer. Young is a CEA-Retired member who taught math and technology in Weld County public schools for 24 years, then served on the Joint Budget Committee while representing District 50 in the State House.

“Dave will be a phenomenal treasurer. He brought his passion and dedication for students from the classroom into the legislature, helping increase education investment while keeping state budgets balanced. In Dave, Colorado will have a treasurer who will ensure state funds are invested safely and transparently for the benefit of all Coloradans, and who will protect the PERA public employee pension plan as a sustainable, defined benefit that retirees were promised and deserve,” said Baca-Oehlert.

Many other candidates recommended by educators were elected tonight, including Diana DeGette, Joe Neguse, Jason Crow and Ed Perlmutter for U.S. Congress, and Jena Griswold for Secretary of State. Recommended candidate Phil Weiser was leading for Attorney General late Tuesday night but the race was too close to call.

Baca-Oehlert expressed her pride in fellow CEA members who joined a national wave of more than 1,500 educators running for office in 2018. Voters in District 59 returned Barbara McLachlan, a retired high school teacher and extremely effective legislator, to the House. “Educators across the state celebrate Barbara’s victory tonight. She will continue to stand up for students and families, and CEA couldn’t be more proud of her powerful voice in the legislature.”

Rochelle Galindo, a head school custodian running for House District 50, and Bri Buentello, a special education teacher running for House District 47, were in very close contests that were too close to call late Tuesday night. Elementary school teacher Debra Gustafson lost in her bid to represent District 1 in the Senate. “CEA is inspired by their bold choice to run for office and advocate for their students,” Baca-Oehlert said.

The loss of Amendment 73 hurts all Colorado students, but several districts took the added step to ask voters for resources their students need in local mill levy and bond elections. CEA congratulates educators in Aurora and Thompson for helping secure community investments for the schools their students deserve. Local funding issues were ahead in several other communities late Tuesday night, including Adams 12, Douglas County, Jefferson County and Westminster.

“These wins are absolutely critical for the kids in these communities to recruit and retain highly qualified teachers, strengthen academics, and provide more counselors and mental health supports for safe learning environments. We have to remember many more Colorado children fell further behind tonight in places where local funding measures did not pass. The unfair burden placed on communities to pass local funding measures divides our children into haves and have-nots and in good conscience, Colorado cannot continue down this path if we want every student to thrive,” Baca-Oehlert observed.
“I am so proud of our thousands of teachers and school support staff who joined the entire education community to energize vast numbers of Coloradans to vote, many for the first time. Colorado is a stronger, healthier state when all voices are heard,” Baca-Oehlert concluded.

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