Four candidates vying for the nomination as the new state representative for House District 12 attended the Boulder County Democratic Party’s virtual candidate forum Wednesday night.
Former Democratic MP Tracey Bernett had previously filled the seat. However, she resigned on Jan. 8, the day before she was due to begin her second term, and was charged with forging her address in order to run and consider re-election in the Lafayette, Louisville, Niwot District.
The candidates who came to speak at the forum were former Congressman David Skaggs, Supreme Trustee Jennifer Kaaoush, Alfredo Alvarado and Louisville City Councilman Kyle Brown.
Boulder Valley School Board District F candidate Kitty Sargent, who previously announced her candidacy for the HD12 seat, has withdrawn from the race, according to Boulder County Democratic Party incumbent chairwoman Amy Weinstein.
In his opening and closing remarks, Skaggs emphasized his past experience as a state and federal legislator and said that if elected he would try to find common ground with other legislators.
He cited getting rid of Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), preserving democracy and barring participants in the January 6 riot from next year’s election as one of his top priorities.
“Ethical failings by politicians have fueled distrust and cynicism,” Skaggs said at the forum. “It’s terribly destructive to the public confidence we need to uphold democracy.”
He called affordable housing “one of the most difficult problems we face”. Skaggs also said he supports stricter enforcement of environmental standards to combat climate change and that he voted for a federal ban on assault weapons.
Kaoush is a trustee for the city of Superior and co-director of Superior Rising, an organization that helps residents recovering from the Marshall Fire.
Kaaoush said she sees Marshall Fire recovery as a top priority that needs to be addressed before other, larger targets for the area can be tackled. If elected, she said she would propose a waiver or rebate of state and RTD use taxes for homeowners rebuilding after the fire.
She said she will lobby for bills to give communities and property owners incentives to provide affordable housing and will also introduce legislation requiring gun owners to attend safety training courses.
“(Gun safety) is a sensitive issue for me,” Kaaoush said. “In my experience as a veteran, guns are tightly controlled items. Even with proper training, a soldier would never be allowed access to weapons in an uncontrolled environment.”
Alvarado, a lifelong Coloradan originally from Pueblo, said at the forum he was a “worker,” not a politician. His priorities include housing, land use, water use and road maintenance.
Alvarado also said he believes the state needs to do more to address mental health, particularly with regard to the unhoused population. He said simply removing homeless people from areas and relocating them elsewhere is not enough.
“It’s not just about calling the cops and throwing them in jail. We have to go beyond that. We need something to help them with mental health issues,” said Alvarado, who lives in Lafayette.
He also advocated removing language barriers in the state and ensuring communities can access the information and resources they need.
Brown is a member of the Louisville City Council and Deputy Commissioner of the Colorado Division of Insurance, who holds a Ph.D. in Genetics from Harvard University. His stated priorities include addressing climate change, affordable housing, universal health coverage and post-Marshall Fire recovery.
“We have to do climate protection. For decades we did little, and now the Marshall Fire has destroyed 1,100 homes and made more than 1,000 families climate refugees,” Brown said at the forum. He vowed to keep fighting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to push for renewable energy.
Brown said he helped Louisville pass the first affordable housing ordinance, which ensured new developments would include a minimum percentage of affordable units. He also said that if elected, he would introduce legislation to prevent rent drops after a disaster. In addition, he said he supports gun safety measures to “protect our children from gun violence.”
A requisitions committee will meet at 1:00 p.m. Saturday to vote on a new representative for HD12.