Diversity in the Colorado Legislature: New lawmakers prepare to fight for their communities

State Capitol
Posted at 11:23 AM, Jan 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-13 13:23:11-05

DENVER -- As Colorado state legislators head back to work, several new lawmakers are breaking diversity barriers.

Colorado Democrats now have the most diverse caucus in its history.

But two new members of the Colorado House of Representatives and Colorado Black Democratic Legislative Caucus told Denver7, representation of diverse communities alone is not enough.

They plan to create tangible change.

“What’s really important is to not just hear the voices of our neighbors, but to also hold ourselves accountable to seeing that what they have asked for — or demanded, actually — comes to fruition,” said Representative-Elect Jennifer Bacon of House District 7. “My other priority for this session is to be a part of a team that systematically dismantles the tools of oppression and that would include thinking about a lot of the little regulations and laws that keep people in their place.”

Bacon said she is focused on getting rid of those regulations and laws that block her constituents from due process, affordable housing, and healthcare.

“There is a way to bring people information, bring people into the space where decisions are made, and to setup personal accountability systems,” said Bacon.

Bacon told Denver7 she plans to take the lessons she learned as a Denver School Board member and apply them to her new role.

“We had an opportunity to remove police officers from our schools, Denver Public Schools, and that came from our students and us doing what we needed to do as stewards and partners, to hold open the doors for student voices, to not only enter the space, but be a part of the change itself,” said Bacon.

Denver7 also talked to Colorado’s first Muslim-American Legislator, Representative-elect Iman Jodeh of House District 41, another member of the Colorado Black Democratic Legislative Caucus.

“I think it’s important that the people see themselves in their representation and being the first Muslim and Arab woman in the Colorado state legislature means that 100,000 Coloradans who identify as Muslims will, in fact, see themselves in representation,” said Jodeh.

Jodeh shared her plans for the upcoming session.

“Advocate, be unapologetic for who I am, and make sure that again, marginalized communities, communities that have been traditionally underrepresented, have a voice,” said Jodeh.

Jodeh also wants to make sure that any legislation she sponsors does not have an impact on the budget.

“It is important to me that my legislation has little to no fiscal note, and also making sure that we are drafting very important legislation that is still relevant to the day-to-day lives of Coloradans everywhere,” said Jodeh

Jodeh and Bacon said they expect big things from themselves this session, but they also plan to hold their colleagues accountable and to hold true to the ideal that all people are created equal.