What counties do you represent? If this is a statewide office, please put statewide.
Jefferson and Adams County
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?
I am a lawyer who specializes in family and juvenile law, and I have seen the devastating effects of a failing mental healthcare system here in Colorado. Mental health care needs to be destigmatized and it should be accessible to people of all ages. In particular, young people are particularly vulnerable because they do not always have the ability to advocate for themselves which is why I am in support of legislation that makes mental health resources more available to them in schools, which is where they spend a majority of their time growing up.
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.
Yes. Currently, there has been an increase in fentanyl use throughout Colorado which has led to a dramatic increase in fentanyl deaths. Mental health and substance use are serious issues that my constituents are experiencing, and we need to act. We also need to focus on harm reduction and making sure that everyone who wants to get help can have access to it.
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?
These protection orders are only temporarily and are in place for people who are at risk of either hurting themselves or others. I support them because the alternative is potentially a dangerous situation that could lead to death. I support de-escalation tactics because it is safer for everyone involved. We need to make sure mental health resources and treatments are more accessible so that these types of orders are used as a last resort.
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?
Increasing penalties is not the solution. We need to stop criminalizing drug users and start offering support and accessible treatment options as personal drug use is a mental health crisis, not a criminal one.
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?
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.
Yes. It should be directed towards treatment centers, rehabilitation clinics, and mental health hospitals. For some, the cost of receiving help is insurmountable, and these places should be accessible and affordable so that anyone who does want to get help can.
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?
I think Denver’s STAR program should be expanded because mental health services are and should be separated from the criminal justice system. We need to stop criminalizing people in a mental health crisis and recognize their humanity and not just see them as criminals who need to be locked up.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
My brother struggled with addiction for many years and continues to be punished by the criminal justice system because of it. I strongly believe that substance use is a mental health crisis and not a criminal one. This is why I will continue to support and strongly advocate for getting people the help that they need because the criminal justice system should not be a catch-all for people who are struggling with a mental health crisis.