The 2020 election is heating up in Colorado and there are plenty of races with candidates eager to serve in elected office. Eyes are primarily focused on the presidential election, but voters will also decide the outcome of state representative and senate seats.
Patch asked candidates to answer questions about their campaigns and will be publishing candidate profiles as election day draws near.
Rachel Zenzinger is running for Colorado State Senate District 19.
Party affiliation: Democratic Party
Family: Married. Two teenage children.
Occupation: Teacher 20 years
Previous elected experience: Current State Senator; previously served on the Arvada City Council
Family members in government: No
The single most pressing issue facing our state is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.
My top issue will reflect the highest priority of our community, whatever that may be. After speaking with thousands of constituents at their doors, the most pressing concern that I’ve heard are the challenges we face as a result of the coronavirus. People are concerned about joblessness, housing, economic security, small business, their children’s education, and their overall health. The impact of this pandemic has left no aspect of our lives untouched. My top issue will be to work on legislation that will meet the needs of this moment and help our community recover from COVID-19.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?
The best quality I bring to the state legislature is my ability to collaborate. I have a 100% bipartisan record on all the legislation I passed last session. I make a point of working across the aisle to ensure everyone in our politically diverse district is represented. I am also an effective legislator, passing 47 bipartisan bills last session. And as a member of the Joint Budget Committee, I balanced the state’s budget, even in the midst of a pandemic. Lastly, I am highly accessible to my constituents, regardless of their positions. In sum: Bipartisan, Effective, and Accessible.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
Since early adulthood, I have dedicated myself to projects and organizations that help make our country a better place to live. My job in the Senate has been the most rewarding in that regard. I believe I have had an optimal impact, and I want to build upon the successes I have enjoyed on behalf of my constituents. In areas of public education, transportation, healthcare and more, I can see the evidence of my work, and it is apparent that some of our communities’ most vulnerable populations have particularly benefited. I also served on the Arvada City Council and numerous citizen boards and commissions in my community.
What steps should state government take to bolster economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic for local businesses?
I passed four bills for recovery from COVID, one was Colorado’s version of the PPP (called the Small Business Recovery Loan Program), because so many of our small businesses were not able to use the federal program. The other three bills involved help for energy assistance, housing assistance and help for food banks. Those bills have a positive effect on small business, but we need to be more directly supportive of small business, which means for example that we might have to extend the SBRLP. Also, I think we need to be very careful about additional mandates on business that could drive up costs.
How will you address the calls for racial justice and police reform?
I support our law enforcement officials who conduct themselves within the moral limits of their authority, and I always have. I also believe we should listen to any minority groups who want to make us aware of prejudice, racial behavior or other discriminatory practices. And whatever civil way in which they choose to make us aware, I strongly encourage. We have ignored or minimized the plight of Black, Indigenous and other people of color for too long. I was proud to vote in favor of Senate Bill 20-217 this last session, and I look forward to seeing how we might address other areas that have been touched by racial injustice beyond law enforcement.
List other issues that define your campaign platform:
I have seen that the most effective legislators are the ones who understand it is indeed possible to work on eight or 10 or more bills at one time, with equal amounts of passion. But if I had to choose three areas where I think Colorado can most improve everyone’s quality of life, it’s in the areas of public education, transportation and healthcare. The last item, healthcare, has become increasingly critical this year, as it is affecting so many other tangential issues.
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
I hope if you picked up on just three reasons to vote for me, it’s because I’m bipartisan, I’m effective, and I’m accessible to my constituents regardless of their positions on the issues. Those characteristics have contributed to the dozens and dozens of endorsements I have received from organizations sitting on a wide range of the political spectrum. In fact, groups that may seem quite opposite. For example, I have the endorsement from the Colorado Chamber of Commerce (CACI) and the AFL-CIO (pause); and I have the endorsement from Conservation Colorado and the Colorado Petroleum Marketers. Do they love me because of every bill I have passed? No. It’s because they know I am collaborative, and they know I work hard to find reasonable compromise