What counties do you represent? If this is a statewide office, please put statewide.
Have you or someone you loved ever experienced a mental health and/or substance use condition?
Question #1: Colorado, like the rest of the nation, is facing a youth mental health crisis. Do you support school policies and funding that increase the availability of mental health services and supports in schools and early childhood settings?
Would you like to explain your response to question #1?
Question #2: Do you believe mental health and substance use are serious issues your constituents are experiencing that deserve legislative attention and action? Please explain.
I began my career as an educator and will always keep students close to my heart. In the Far Northeast of Denver we are experiencing youth violence and reports of self-harm at an alarming rate. When we listen to our youth advocates they tell us clearly — we need mental health support. I believe our youth and I believe that they are not alone in their struggles with mental health issues. I also believe that without adequate mental health treatment, the opportunity for substance use and mis-use increases. I aspire to have a thriving community with a dense network of support for folks to access the therapies and interventions they need in order to feel safe and live a life that is fulfilling to them. Achieving this requires legislative attention and action to address mental health and substance use in our communities.
Question #3: Extreme risk protection orders, also known as red flag laws, allow law enforcement to temporarily remove weapons from individuals at significant risk to themselves or others. Colorado has a red flag law. Do you support extreme risk protection orders?
Would you like to explain your response to question #3?
Question #4: Overdose deaths are at an all-time high nationally and in Colorado. Many believe increasing criminal penalties for people who use drugs is the answer. Do you support increased criminal penalties for people who use drugs? *
(*Please note that we are asking about personal use, not distribution)
Would you like to explain your response to question #4?
We have seen how the ‘war on drugs’ is an ineffective tool for both reducing overdose deaths and supporting people who use drugs. During the 2022 legislative session I challenged my Democratic colleagues on HB22-1326 Fentanyl Accountability And Prevention and ultimately voted no because I don’t believe that the criminalization of drug possession or use is effective policy. I believe that criminalization results in over-policing of non-white bodies and that it unfairly targets people of low socioeconomic status. I believe that we should be making investments in behavioral health interventions and community support rather than in the criminal-legal system.
Question # 5: As a follow up question, did you support legislation in the 2022 session that drastically increased the criminal penalty for possession of any substance over 1g if that substance contains any amount of fentanyl?
Would you like to explain your response to question #5?
I worked with criminal justice reform and substance use treatment organizations in an attempt to change the bill, and ultimately voted NO on HB22-1326 Fentanyl Accountability And Prevention.
Question #6: Do you believe the State should invest more funding for mental health and substance use? If yes, please explain where you would want additional funding to be directed. If no, please explain why.
I am not an expert on mental health or substance use interventions, so I don’t have an exact plan for where and how funds should be directed. However, I believe in the community organizing principle that those closest to the pain are also closest to the solution. With that in mind, I commit to working with mental health and substance use organizations and advocates to determine where and how to best direct funds so that on the ground organizations are equipped with the resources they need to conduct their life saving and life changing work.
Question #7: People needing care, supports, and services for their mental health and substance use often experience discrimination as a result of their health condition. Would you support legislation that would protect people needing care, supports, and services for their mental health and substance use conditions from discriminatory practices?
Would you like to explain your response to question #7?
Question #8: For too long the state’s criminal justice system has acted as a substitute for a comprehensive mental health care system. Would you support policies that would disentangle mental health from the criminal justice system and promote the expansion of programs like Denver’s STAR program?
Would you like to explain your response to question #8?
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Thank you for your consideration. If you have any follow up questions or would like to further discuss any of my responses, please don’t hesitate to reach out!