THE PODIUM | The election was a mandate; voters now expect action

Author: Ron Ruggiero - November 21, 2018 - Updated: November 20, 2018

Ron Ruggiero

The 2018 election cycle was a clear victory for working families across the state. We successfully elected candidates statewide that have committed to stand up for issues working families care about like lifting up wages, affordable quality healthcare, racial justice, immigrants’ rights, climate justice and the right to organize.

While pundits may attribute this election to a “blue wave” or declare that the outcome was inevitable — this doesn’t tell the whole story. These election victories were made possible by the countless volunteers, organizations, and unions coming together to talk to voters on the issues that matter and get out the vote.  I’m proud that Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 105 members joined them by the hundreds and volunteered thousands of hours to contact tens of thousands of new and existing voters. I was moved to see members give up needed extra shifts at work or coming out in the morning after working all night, to volunteer.

In addition to thousands of volunteer hours, SEIU members from all across the country contributed significant resources in get-out-the-vote and communications efforts in Colorado. Many of these workers were campaigning and exercising their right to vote for the very first time.

Through all these efforts, SEIU played a significant role in electing candidates with progressive values like Gov.-elect Jared Polis, Congressman-elect Jason Crow and Senate and House members across the state.

All of these efforts added up to Coloradans coming out in historic numbers to support candidates who will fight for working families and develop an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few.

Races at every level around the state were dominated by these pocketbook issues. That’s because at a time when all voters hear about is the state’s low unemployment rates and booming economy, many families are still struggling to make ends meet.

A recent poll released before the election shows that despite a growing economy and low unemployment rate, almost half of general election voters indicated that they are just getting by or financially struggling.

When you break that number down by key voting groups such as women, people of color and independents, that trend only gets worse.  Hardworking Coloradans across the state are asking many of the same questions. How many jobs do I have to work just to get by? Will my children be able to afford to attend college? Will I be able to access healthcare in the event of a medical emergency? I’ll never forget a member who recently told me what it meant to him to have to work two jobs to survive, “It means I get four hours of sleep every night.” Surely, we can do better in our “booming” economy.

What our elected officials need to understand is that the “blue wave” election is a mandate from voters that they want the many crises to be addressed that prevent the working and middle class from getting ahead.

In the upcoming session, lawmakers need to take bold action on behalf of the people who fought so hard to get them elected and get to work building an economy that works for everyone. We need and have worked for bold solutions to wage stagnation, racial injustice, protecting immigrants, addressing climate change, skyrocketing housing costs and the other issues that face Coloradans. Whether we are black, brown or white, we should all be able to thrive in our great state.

Ron Ruggiero

Ron Ruggiero

Ron Ruggiero is the president of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 105 in Denver.