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?
Yes, with transparency to parents and by licensed therapists/psychologists that are seeking to help, not exacerbate issues that follow gender identity issues and such.
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, this is a big part of my campaign platform and bills that I’m already working on regarding long-term treatment options that will keep offenders out of jail and off of the streets when arrested for crimes involving their mental illness and/or addiction.
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?
While I support law enforcement’s ability to remove weapons from potentially violent people dealing with mental health, I don’t think this should be law as it is widely abused by spiteful partners and even citizens against law enforcement officers and such. Law enforcement already had this ability with much better discretion prior to the “red flag law” being adopted in CO.
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)
Increased criminal penalties for personal use of narcotics is not the effective method to help persons who use only for personal use. Increased help with addiction so that addicts can “kick the habit” and get their lives on track is the better solution.
Would you like to explain your response to question #4?
As a retired law enforcement member, I have been told by so many that I or “we” saved their lives by arresting them. It was a chance to get clean in jail and even get pushed into treatment by “drug court” and probation mandates to have charges dropped if completed treatment and sobriety.
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 think that there should be a zero tolerance law against possession of fentanyl, to keep that poison off of our streets. Again, an arrestee can have charges delayed and/or dropped if they go through drug court with completing treatment and sobriety.
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.
Absolutely. Colorado is one of the worst states for mental health and addiction treatment. While I worked in law enforcement, we had arrestees suffering from severe mental health issues like paranoid schizophrenia with bipolar disorder that would be waiting evaluation from a doctor to determine if they needed long-term treatment or mental health detention. The only facility is in Pueblo, CO. They’re so overwhelmed that inmates would wait in jail up to 6 months waiting for a bed there, or would be released if they didn’t have charges that could keep them jailed that long. Jail and the streets are not a place for people struggling like that.
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?
I think to some degree. Some discrimination of people suffering from severe mental health issues (medicated or not) can be a safety concern in certain aspects of life and business.
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?
Yes, just like my answer to the prior question about inmates suffering with severe mental health issues.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I have served in both the military (22 years) and law enforcement (10 years) as a victim advocate, suicide intervention professional, crisis intervention team coach, and a mentor for other fellow combat veterans. This is something that I am very passionate about and plan to make a difference in legislation.