A local teacher and community organizer has been chosen to fill a state House seat in northwest Denver.
At age 26, he’ll become the youngest member of the Colorado legislature and the first member of Generation Z to serve as a state lawmaker.
Tim Hernández, a former teacher at Denver’s North High School, will soon get to represent the neighborhood he grew up in the state legislature.
“I grew up here two blocks from here, and I've always been very deeply proud of this neighborhood. I love being from here,” said Hernández. “I'm really excited to get to work for folks on the north and west side of Denver.
A Democratic Party vacancy committee elected Hernández to serve out the remaining term of Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, who was recently elected to the Denver city council.
Hernández, who’s also a community organizer, says he never imagined running for office.
But he says the year and a half he spent teaching at North helped change his mind.
“From my experience working here and my experience seeing the issues show up for our young people in the same ways they showed up for me, I decided that you know, nobody's going to come to stop our issues but ourselves,” said Hernández.
Hernández made headlines last year after his contract wasn’t renewed by Denver Public Schools, causing many students to walk out in protest.
“The leaders of my school have labeled me as divisive, and disruptive,” Hernández told Denver7 last year. “The principal of my school has called me aggressive and attacking, coded language that is hurtful and detrimental to men of color.”
The district said it doesn’t comment on personnel decisions.
Hernandez was later hired to teach in Aurora.
He’ll now become the youngest member of the Colorado legislature and the first representing a new generation, which grew up practicing active shooter drills at school.
“We don't have any Gen Z state legislators up in the capitol right now. I'll be the first. And that means that I'm not just speaking for myself, I'm speaking for a generation of young people who lived through mass shootings in schools and were afraid to die because they told us the adults were going to take on gun violence,” said Hernández. “Well now, we're the adults, and we're going to take it on.”
In addition to gun violence, Hernández also plans to make housing affordability and education funding top priorities.
“There's a lot of really important perspective that I think is often missed in the state legislature because of the way that our systems are built. And I'm really passionate about making sure that our government works for everybody,” said Hernández.
Hernández will begin his official legislative duties once he is sworn into office by the secretary of state.