What counties do you represent? If this is a statewide office, please put statewide.
Arapahoe and Douglas
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 no expert and would certainly appreciate learning more. But, my mother was a social worker in the 1970’s and 80’s, primarily working with women. I learned at an early age the value of good mental health. It seems to me that too many of my fellow Coloradans are suffering from mental health issues due to a variety of causes. Youth mental health is especially important to me. We have high school age children and am keen to the challenges on a daily basis. I support investigating the methods that can be effectively implemented to help our public schools address the mental health needs of their students. I’m not sure about how funding works, since my understanding is that state and local resources are stretched. I believe mental health may be at the root of the causes for troubles in our public school system and therefore, this should be explored.
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.
Mental health and substance abuse are serious issues for my constituents. I believe that the causes and solutions may be best addressed by groups other than the state legislature, but the state legislature should be facilitating the discussion. I’m not sure what the solutions framework looks like, but I believe this should be discussed and action should be taken. I would be interested to learn what solutions have been identified by Mental Health Colorado, and would consider MHC’s input.
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?
My affirmative answer is really an expression of the notion that I would not support repealing the laws underlying the extreme risk protection orders. I understand there are pending cases addressing the constitutionality of these laws, and I would wait for the courts to make their decisions before considering any other actions. I would also refer to my response to the first question above. Finally, I would note that there are a combination of legal avenues to consider when one is attempting to help our fellow citizens in need. I would highlight all of them and make sure that gaps are addressed.
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?
Another area where I would appreciate learning more. But my personal opinion is that although criminal penalties are a blunt instrument, they are one of the important tools that we, as a civil society, have to address illegal drug use.
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 would refer to my response to question 4, above.
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.
As mentioned above, I understand that our state budget is stretched. I think mental health response is an important issue and may be higher in priority than some of the programs that are currently funded in our state budget. I would investigate whether state initiatives could or should be re-prioritized to more adequately address mental health concerns. I have noted that law enforcement is having to deal with the consequences of mental health disorders and they may not be adequately trained for this task. I also note that other first responders, such as paramedics and fire fighters may be equally ill-prepared. I would look for more comprehensive methods to address this growing problem. I would also suggest that addressing the root causes of the problems may benefit our State more in the long run.
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?
My response is no, only because I cannot say yes without qualification. I would be interested to learn how such protections would be expressed and enforced. I feel very unprepared to respond to this question.
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 would incorporate here my responses contained above.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
No. Thank you.