(Promoted by Colorado Pols)
POLS UPDATE: Statement from leading LGBT advocate group One Colorado:
“Senator Ulibarrí has been a strong champion for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Coloradans and their families during his time in the State Senate. Particularly, his leadership on the Birth Certificate Modernization Act – a bill that will make it less burdensome for transgender Coloradans to update the gender on their birth certificate – has been remarkable.
“Colorado will be losing a champion for all those whose voices have been drowned out by big money and special interests in politics – his voice will be missed greatly in the State Senate. As a member of the LGBT Caucus, Senator Ulibarrí has consistently made sure that the needs of LGBT Coloradans are represented at the Legislature. We know he will bring these issues to his work at Wellstone Action and wish him the best of luck. He certainly leaves big shoes to fill.”
In a statement posted to Facebook, State Senator Jesse Ulibarri today announced that he would not be running for re-election in Adams County Senate District 21 this November.
Sen. Ulibarri will be taking a position as Vice President of Impact and External Affairs for Wellstone Action, a progressive leadership training organization. Representative Dominick Moreno will seek election to the now open Senate seat with Sen. Ulibarri’s endorsement. No other candidates have entered the race for SD21.
I have some exciting news about a tough, but important decision that I wanted you to hear directly from me.
I will not be seeking reelection for a second term to the Colorado State Senate this year.
Most of you know that, in addition to my part-time position in the Senate, I’ve been working full-time with Wellstone Action, a national nonprofit organization that is dedicated to building a democracy where everyone is in, no one is out, no exceptions. I’ve focused my efforts on helping progressive community organizers, candidates and elected officials to think strategically and take bold action to make positive, concrete changes in our country.
I’ve helped advocates in Kansas to fight back against the Koch brothers’ efforts to defund the state court system, I’ve trained winning progressive candidates in the birthplace of the Tea Party (Orange County, CA), and I’ve led trainings convened at the White House for city officials to think big about their plans to fight for the middle class. From this national vantage point, I’ve been able to see how wealthy and well-connected interests are trying to distort our democracy for their own personal gain, and how real people can make a huge difference when we fight back.
To that end, I was recently offered the opportunity to serve as Wellstone Action’s Vice President of Impact and External Affairs, and I accepted. Late last year, Wellstone Action absorbed two other national nonprofits, Progressive Majority (a leadership development organization) and the New Organizing Institute (an organization that integrates data/digital strategies into community change work). With these additions, Wellstone Action is now the largest training organization in the country for the progressive movement. In my new role, I will be responsible for managing all of our training programs, which will help to strengthen the governance approach for thousands of community leaders, candidates and elected officials across the country.
I want you to know that I did not come to the decision lightly. My four years in the Senate have been the most rewarding and the most challenging in my life.
As you may know, my hometown of Commerce City is surrounded by an oil refinery, multiple landfills, a defunct military arsenal for chemical weapons, a wastewater treatment facility, and a power plant. I spent my earliest years of life in the Lamplighter Trailer Park in Federal Heights, where we were often disparaged by strangers as “trailer trash.” When I was 15, two men tortured Matthew Shepherd and left him for dead on a fence just a few miles north of my home. As a closeted gay kid at the time, his murder left me terrified and ashamed. As a young person, the overwhelming messages I received about myself and our broader community was that we were disposable and without value. I refused to accept those messages, but those early years of life set me on a lifelong path to build an inclusive democracy, which has been my guiding charge in the Senate.
When I took office, I promised my constituents that I would take action on issues important to our hardscrabble community, and I’m proud to say that I remained true to my commitment. Here is a list of just a few of the legislative accomplishments I helped to secure during my time in the Senate:
• a statewide renewable energy standard to reduce dependence on carbon-based energy;
• tax incentives to clean up toxic waste sites;
• an expansion of health insurance coverage to over 300,000 low-income Coloradans;
• free breakfast and lunch programs for all children living in high-poverty areas;
• the largest investment in affordable housing in the state’s history;
• a statewide wage enforcement division to help workers recover wages unfairly withheld by their employers;
• modernizing our election system, making it one of the most secure and accessible in the country;
• civil unions and full marriage equality for same-sex couples;
• enhanced workplace protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people;
• in-state tuition rates for undocumented residents attending state universities;
• a driver’s license program for undocumented residents;
• prohibiting the use of credit scores in hiring/promotion decisions;
• prohibiting the use of solitary confinement for people with mental health needs;
• eliminating debtor’s prisons; and,
• overhauling the state’s foreclosure processes to protect homeowners.
During this time, I learned that building a more prosperous future can be achieved, but it takes hard work, collaboration and an unwavering commitment to our shared values. It takes sacrifice, time and strategy. And most importantly, this work cannot be done alone.
I am incredibly fortunate and thankful to be surrounded and supported by a loving family, friends, staff and community, who have helped me along this journey. I could not have achieved these feats without them or without you. I will deeply miss the people and the work in the Senate, but I’m excited to have a few more hours in the day to spend with my family.
My decision to leave the Senate is rooted in understanding that we can grow our impact in the world, if our struggle is equipped with the tools, training, network and support to take on the big fights. I might be changing titles, but I remain unwavering in my commitment to the movement we’re building together.
I plan to finish my full 4-year term, and help my colleagues recapture the Democratic majority in the Senate this election year. To that end, I’m very excited to share that Representative Dominick Moreno, my friend and our local hero for working families, has decided to run for my seat in the Senate. He is a tested leader who always puts our community first, and I’ve enthusiastically endorsed him for this race. I hope you will help him to victory, as much as you’ve helped and supported me during my time in the Senate.
I know you may have questions or comments about my decision, and as always, I hope you’ll reach out to me directly. You can call me on my cell at 720.434.3747 or by email at Jessie.Ulibarri.Senate@state.co.us.
With deep commitment, love and gratitude,