As the election results came in, it was clear: As a state, Colorado is trending blue.
Jared Polis, a Democrat, became the first openly gay governor in the state’s history. Democrat Jena Griswold unseated local Republican Wayne Williams for the secretary of state seat. Democrats also won the state treasurer position and the attorney general’s office. Democrats Tony Exum, Pete Lee and Mark Snyder will go to the General Assembly from El Paso County.
But the much-anticipated and much over-hyped blue wave fell short in El Paso County. We’re still a solid Republican county, and Doug Lamborn will once again represent the 5th Congressional District in Congress. Republicans chalked up wins for county assessor, clerk and recorder, the two open county commissioner seats. Bill Elder is the sheriff for another term — his last, reportedly. And Republicans won surveyor and treasurer spots as well. Teri Carver and Larry Liston will return to the General Assembly.
So what’s next?
County officials must work with their state counterparts to do the work their constituents put them in office to do. They can’t play partisan politics — nor can they engage in the hateful, divisive rhetoric that plays out on the national stage. It’s not good for Colorado, and it certainly isn’t good for El Paso County. Politicians on both sides of the aisle need to come together to create jobs, solve transportation woes and find ways to create more affordable housing for the state’s workers.
We’re the second-largest population center in the state, and we need to have a role that fits our size. As the region grows and changes, it’s imperative that we reach across the aisle — and all the way to Denver — to make sure our voices are heard and the Pikes Peak region’s needs aren’t overlooked by the majority party in Denver. Mayor John Suthers has worked with Democratic colleagues throughout his time in both state and local offices; the rest of us need to follow his example.
Colorado Springs, El Paso County and our residents should come first; partisan politics should not be part of the conversation in Colorado. It’s time we led the country to show them how people of different parties can work together — instead of tearing each other down. As we compete in an ever-changing global market, as we figure out infrastructure needs for a growing area of the state, as we work to develop transportation that meets the needs of every resident, it’s going to take every one of us to solve the problems of workforce, of education funding, of figuring out the mess the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights created.
Local leaders, state senators, state representatives and our congressional delegation need to work together to address the needs of Colorado: public land protection, water rights, wildfire mitigation, workforce development, education and a host of other issues.
The time to join in the ridiculous political accusations and false claims at the national level has run its course. It’s time to work together now. Our future economic prosperity depends on it.