Diversity reigns at legislature with a record

The Colorado Statesman

Friday night’s reception to celebrate diversity at the legislature was so well attended that the venue had to be moved to hold the over-flow crowd. Originally scheduled for a meeting room upstairs in the downtown bank building for an anticipated few dozen, it was instead moved to a larger room at the foot of two massive escalators that accommodated several hundred. And even then it was tough to navigate the crowd of politicos — many whom included elected officials and lobbyists — who gathered at the onset of the weekend to hail the victories made at the legislature.

Rep.-elect Dominick Moreno, Sen. Lucia Guzman, Sen. Irene Aguilar, Sen. Angela Giron, Rep-elect Jessie Ulibarri and Rep. Crisanta Duran wait to be introduced at the reception honoring diversity at the legislature on Jan. 4 at the Wells Fargo building in downtown Denver. The lawmakers are members of the Colorado Democratic Latin@ Caucus.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman

When the House convenes this week, there will be a record number of five blacks and 12 Latinos filling the chairs in the chambers. That’s in addition to a large number of women in the General Assembly — which has always been a Colorado distinction — and a record eight gay legislators in the House and Senate.

State Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo, Rep.-elect Jovan Melton of Aurora, Rep. Angela Williams of Denver and Rep.-elect Joe Salazar of Thornton are members of the diverse 69th General Assembly which was slated to begin on Jan. 9.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman

State Rep. Angela Williams, a Democrat from Denver who will chair the business labor workforce committee and the audit committee at the Capitol, beamed as she and event co-organizer Rep.-elect Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, shared the duty of introducing current and soon-to-be sworn-in members of the 69th General Assembly. There were hoots and hollers as the Democratic leaders from around the state took to a microphone in the front to briefly explain where their districts are and what committees they’ll serve on. But the crowd was so large that on several occasions they were reminded to keep it down so everyone could hear. Rep.-elect John Buckner of HD 40’s southeast Aurora — a former high school principal — was almost successful as he bellowed out his well used command to hush up.

An animated Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia says the black and Latino legislators “bring not just color to the Capitol, but competence. We need to make sure these people know we have their back.” At the right is his wife, Dr. Claire Garcia, and daughter Lola Garcia Prignitz.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman

Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, accompanied by his wife and daughter, said the legislators “bring not just color to the Capitol, but competence. We need to make sure these people know we have their back.”

Members of the Colorado Democratic Latin@ Caucus and the Black Legislative Caucus of Colorado lined up afterwards in an anterior lobby to have their photos taken together.

Ruben Valdez, former Speaker of the House from 1975-76 after Democrats gained control, waves to attendees at Friday night’s reception to honor diversity at the legislature. Also in attendance was outgoing Speaker Frank McNulty, whose Republicans lost control of the House in November.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman

In attendance were numerous citywide officials — Debbie Ortega, Robin Kniech and Albus Brooks from the council; Auditor Dennis Gallagher and Denver Clerk & Recorder Debra Johnson; representatives from the congressional offices of Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet and Rep. Diana DeGette; newly chosen Majority Leader Morgan Carroll of Aurora, former state Rep. and current lobbyist Rosemary Marshall, and Speaker-elect Mark Ferrandino of Denver who carefully shielded his one-year-old foster daughter, Lila, from cameras. Current House Speaker Frank McNulty, who will officially give up his leadership post on Jan. 9, had his picture snapped with former Speaker Ruben Valdez.

Jerome Davis, regional vice president of Xcel Energy in Colorado, greets several hundred people who stopped by the Celebrate Diversity event on Jan. 4. Xcel was one of the sponsors of the pre-session reception.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman

—Jody@coloradostatesman.com

Lynne Lomboard-Hunt and Rep.-elect Jovan Melton pose for a photo after the event.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman