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Politicos tell CoPo what they’re thankful for

Author: Colorado Politics - November 21, 2018 - Updated: November 22, 2018

(Photo by skynesher, istockphoto)

The electric buzz of election season has fizzled to mere white noise. But as of Thursday, the hustle and bustle of the holiday season picks up. You might think that some Colorado politicos — especially those of the blue persuasion — have more to be thankful for than others this time of year.

Not so.

Every mover and shaker Colorado Politics spoke to found something — often many things — to be grateful for this season. No licking of wounds planned from the folks we talked to. Licking of spoons this Turkey Day? Maybe.


Stapletons sustained by faith, friends and music

Republican candidate for Colorado governor Walker Stapleton, left, watches the results from his hotel room along with his family including his wife Jenna and their three kids, Colette, 6, left, and Olivia, 4, who sit on his lap along Craig,10, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Denver on June 26 in Denver. (Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette)

Jenna Stapleton hoped to be the first lady of Colorado, but Election Day didn’t go as planned for her husband, Republican gubernatorial nominee Walker Stapleton.

“As Walker pointed out at the end of this governor’s race, we are sustained by our family, our faith and our friends,” she said. “That is what we are thankful for. And, we are thankful for all of the blessings that life in Colorado has provided for us: amazing family trips to the mountains, Rockies baseball, concerts at Red Rocks and Mile High sunsets.

“Walker and I are also blessed to have had amazing supporters, a gritty and brilliant team and tireless volunteers. Without them, Walker couldn’t have gotten as far as he did. We are also beyond thankful for our military and our nation’s freedom and for being able to participate and serve in this wonderful democracy.

“Our favorite song right now is “Still Out There Running” by Nathaniel Ratliff. Music always gets us through our highs and lows.”


Griswold ready to serve, string up some lights

Colorado Secretary of State-elect Jena Griswold reacts to the audience during the Democratic watch party in downtown Denver on Nov. 6. (AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via AP)

Jena Griswold was elected Colorado’s secretary of state this month — the first Democrat to win the post in 60 years and the first Democratic woman in state history.

“I am thankful for all the new friendships that I’ve made over the last year and for quality time with family. I am humbled and honored at the opportunity to serve the people of Colorado! (Also as a Griswold, I am extremely thankful that the holiday season is here — time to hang some lights!)”





Williams thankful for ‘expanded’ family, friendships

Secretary of State Wayne Williams, standing center, and his wife, El Paso County Commissioner-elect Holly Williams, seated center, are surrounded by their children and their families. (Photo provided)


Secretary of State Wayne Williams won widespread acclaim for making Colorado the safest state to vote in the country, but voters denied the Republican a second term.

“I’m grateful for the love and support of our expanded friends and family. Over the last few years, I’ve made so many friends across this great state.

“I’m adopted, and this year I connected for the first time with both of my birth parents. We met my birth father this fall and over Thanksgiving, we will meet my birth mother. I’m grateful for the decision they made to bring me into this world and to place me in a loving home where I could be raised by the two wonderful parents who adopted me.”



Emerge leader thankful for the blue wave and Touchdown

Michal Rosenoer
Emerge Colorado executive director Michal Rosenoer poses with her partner, Patrick Massaro. (Photo courtesy of Michal Rosenoer)

Michal Rosenoer was named the executive director of Emerge Colorado in March. The organization helps Democratic women prepare to run for and serve in public office.

Rosenoer had been a Front Range strategist and organizer for Conservation Colorado, the state’s largest environmental organization, since 2014. She hails from Marin County, California, and has a degree in environmental policy and development from Berkeley.

“I am thankful for my puppy, Touchdown, who loves the Broncos but is deeply disappointed in their season record so far. Nevertheless, she’s sweeter than I am, so she still has some hope left in her for Vance Joseph. I’m also deeply thankful for my longterm partner, Patrick Massaro, who makes me comfort food anytime I start to have a meltdown about the pressures of election season or family holidays. And … I am sure lots of folks are deeply thankful for the Blue Wave and voters that made it possible a few weeks ago.

“I am especially grateful to all those who voted in exceptional women candidates at all levels of government, including 19 Emerge Colorado alumnae, so I could keep my job in 2019 (ha!). But, really, to everyone who put themselves out there and ran for office for the first time, ran despite people telling them they were too young, too progressive, too female, too … anything — and to all the people who supported them — thank you for your work to make our state a better place. Finally, the reason I love living in Colorado is because we can access the high desert, mountains, world-famous rivers, and beautiful public lands within just a few hours’ drive; I am incredibly grateful to get to live — and play — here.”


Kelly Maher thankful for family, friends, farm and ‘interesting times’

Kelly Maher, right, and Bella, one of her goats, mug for the camera. (Photo provided)

Compass Colorado executive director Kelly Maher agitated from the right this year while at the same time alerting social media followers to her growing and picturesque menagerie.

“This year I’m most thankful for my beautiful family and unique friends. Although I lost my Dad unexpectedly this spring, which will make the holiday hard, I am deeply thankful for the time I had with him. We started a little farm in April, and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to add this new element to our lives. Between the wallaby, the Labrador, the goats, guinea fowl, ducks, and quail — our life is an adventure. The Chinese blessing and curse ‘may you live in interesting times’ is alive and well at our house and in my work. In politics, despite major Republican losses, I am grateful for the lessons and for the opportunity to rebuild a new party. I am most thankful Democrats have no self-control and will overreach so dramatically that I can say ‘I told you so,’ and hold them accountable, for the next two years.


Priola thankful for daily miracles, big and small

Kevin and Michelle Priola take in a Broncos game. (Via Facebook)

State Sen. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, is the vice chairman of the Senate Education Committee and sits on the chamber’s Business, Labor and Technology Committee.

“In the ongoing endeavor of raising our children my wife and I work to cultivate gratitude … our best efforts arise from slowing down in order to reflect and to comprehend the miraculous nature of existence, especially in relation to our experiences in an ordinary day.

“For instance, the sun which warms your skin, what a simple pleasure and the same sun also melts the frost from the trees … or the feel in your chest as your heartbeat quickens in response to the beauty around us — whether that is found in a majestic mountain view or the simple dew drop. Or perhaps the way it feels as you move your body to music during a vigorous work out. We’re grateful to rise each new day and have the chance to learn, grow, and to participate. We are grateful to be here, now, together.”


For the new speaker of the House, being thankful is about family … and a strong Democratic majority

House Majority Leader KC Becker in January 2018. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Rep. KC (stands for Kathleen Collins, in case you were wondering) Becker of Boulder will become the speaker of the House when the General Assembly convenes for the 2019 session on January 4. She will be the third consecutive woman serving in the speaker role, following predecessors Crisanta Duran and Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, both Democrats. Becker will preside over a House that will be majority women for the first time in history, with 25 women in the Democratic caucus (out of 41 total) and eight in the Republican caucus (out of 24 total).

“I”m thankful for my two awesome kiddos, who are growing up too fast; my devoted husband; my entire family; and for the support of friends.

“This year I’m especially thankful to the women and people of color who ran for office and everyone who worked so hard to fuel a Democratic victory at the ballot box. I’m thankful for my new and departing colleagues who are committed to protecting the Colorado way of life and expanding opportunity; for my constituents and neighbors in Boulder who placed their trust and confidence in me to help lead our community and our state forward.

“I’m thankful to get a quick break and time with my family in — maybe even a few turns in on the slopes if we’re lucky — before the legislature gets to work and am truly grateful to live in a state where there’s no limit on what we can accomplish when we work together.”


Suthers sees purpose in public life, family and Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers. (Nadav Soroker, The Gazette)

John Suthers is the mayor of Colorado Springs and former Colorado attorney general. This year the city was named the second-best place to live and the most desirable place to live by U.S. News & World Report. He’s nearing the end of his first term as mayor and plans to run for a second.

I am most thankful for my wonderful wife and family. Their love and support provides the life balance that helps me succeed in other endeavors.

“I’m also very grateful for the short but intense influence of my parents. While they died when I was young, they helped shape the values that have guided my life and career.

“I feel privileged to have held several public positions that have given great meaning and purpose to my life. While my current job of leading a large city is difficult, I am grateful to have the opportunity, together with an incredibly dedicated group of city employees, to help shape the future of a great city.

“I’m very lucky to have been able to live in Colorado Springs all my life. I discovered it was the most desirable city long before U.S. News and World Report named it as such. Yes, we have challenges that stem from the growth that vibrant cities undergo, but I embrace those as opportunities for leadership. I am ever grateful to spend each day in pursuit of our community’s quest to continue the legacy of William Palmer to build a city that matches our scenery.”


Walker thankful for organizers, resisters

Eric Walker, the communications director for the Colorado Democratic Party, has been responsible for some of the year’s zestier barbs but said he wanted to make a serious point for Thanksgiving.

“I’m thankful for a lot of people, but most of all, the folks who do the hard work of political organizing and resisting on a volunteer basis. They made the difference in this election.”


Skorman grateful for decades of opportunity

Richard Skorman and Yolanda Avila celebrate winning races for City Council District 3 and District 4 respecively in 2017. (Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette)

Richard Skorman is Colorado Springs’ City Council president; he also served on the council from 1999 to 2006. Alongside his wife, Patricia Seator, Skorman owns Poor Richard’s Restaurant, Little Richard’s Toy Store, Rico’s Cafe and Wine Bar and Poor Richard’s Books and Gifts downtown.

“First, I am grateful to all four of my grandparents, who had the courage to leave Russia during the Pogroms against Jews, to immigrate to the U.S. where their hard work ultimately afforded me privilege and opportunity.

“Patricia and I are very thankful to have such wonderful businesses that have made us and many others a living over four decades. We are blessed with many devoted customers and employees who care about the businesses like it is their own.

“I am grateful to be trusted to be a city leader and to work with so many dedicated public servants at all levels of local government.”

But my biggest appreciation is for my wife and business partner, Patricia, who has supported me in all of my endeavors and kept me laughing every day. I am so grateful that we happened to meet in New York City in 1986, and that she is my constant partner in life and business since.”


Silverii’s cornucopia of thankfulness runneth over

State Sen.-elect Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, and Ian Silverii, executive director of ProgressNow Colorado. (Photo provided)

Ian Silverii, executive director of ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s most vocal progressive advocacy organization, had plenty to celebrate on election night this year, when Democrats ran the table in state elections and his wife, state Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, won a swing Senate seat.

“This year I’m thankful for a lot of people in my life who supported me and Brittany (Senator-Elect Pettersen!!!) through the toughest campaign we’ve ever been through. My mom and dad who, though they are in New Jersey, are a constant source of love and encouragement for us in everything we do. Brittany’s brothers, Jamie and Bryan; their wives, Brooke and Lolly; and their ever-growing family; our nieces, Charlie, Ellah and Sophia; and our brand new nephew, Jack. My brother Alex and his wife, Regina, their two amazing kids, Leon and Remi.

“I’m grateful for the wisdom of the Colorado electorate in seeing through the shams of Proposition 109 and Amendment 74, and in their banning of predatory payday loans and finally abolishing slavery in our state constitution. Further, the good people of this state delivered progressive victories up and down the ticket in every level of office, so I’m grateful for the opportunity for progressives to show the voters what we can do when entrusted with their government.

“I’m thankful the overpaid #copolitics right-wing hack army are truly and now demonstrably terrible at their jobs, and, having learned nothing from this blue avalanche, are outwardly confused and oscillating between whether to embrace the rot that is Trumpism or return to a conservatism that isn’t wildly problematic and offensive to a majority of voters in the state.

“Most of all I’m grateful and thankful to have the best job in the best state at the best organization with the best staff in the entire world. Running ProgressNow Colorado has been the great joy of my life, and look for us to make even bigger moves in the future, and score bigger wins for the people of Colorado than even 2018 brought.”


Democracy, family and dreams for Snyder

Pete Lee, left, and Marc Snyder greet each other after the polls close at the El Paso Democratic Watch Party in the Gold Room in Colorado Springs on Nov. 6. (Photo by Kelsey Brunner, The Gazette)

Marc Snyder is the representative-elect for Colorado’s House District 18. He previously served as the mayor of Manitou Springs.

“We should all be thankful that we live in the world’s greatest democracy and that we can have hard fought elections and accept the results. We should all be thankful that we live in Colorado where every vote matters and is properly counted. I am humble and thankful for the he opportunity to continue my public service as state House representative and to serve all of the wonderful people of HD 18 and the state of Colorado.

“However, I am most thankful for the love, health and happiness of my wife, Kelly, and our two incredible daughters, Cassidy and Riley. I am thankful that we have a roof over our heads, food on the table and the freedom to pursue our dreams. Finally, I am thankful for the opportunity to work tirelessly to ensure that this is true for everyone. Happy Thanksgiving.”


Kafer loves Bacon

Krista Kafer
Denver media personality Krista Kafer greets children on the street in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Krista Kafer is a prominent voice in Colorado politics, both on the air and in print. Her latest show on the radio is “Caplis and Kafer” from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays on 630 KHOW.

She also is a columnist for the Denver Post and a contributor to Westword, as well as a regular guest panelist on Colorado Public Television’s “Colorado Inside Out,” among other media appearances.

“Each day, I thank God for my dog Bacon, my friends and family, opportunities to travel abroad, and even the naughty kitten that is systematically destroying my house plants. I’m grateful for all the opportunities I have to write, teach and contribute to the marketplace of ideas.

“I’ve learned to be content in lean times and plenty, and I appreciate how hard times have made me both tougher and more compassionate. Even so, I am grateful that at this moment the sun is shining.”

Gardner reflects on the nation’s values

Amazon Gardner
In this 2014 file photo, Rep. Cory Gardner delivers a speech to Republican delegates at the state GOP Congress, in Boulder. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner of Yuma led the campaign effort that helped expand the Republican majority in the Senate during a challenging political climate this year. And now he must focus on his own re-election campaign for 2020. His thoughts for the holiday seemed far from politics, however, focusing instead on gratitude, sacrifice and democracy.

“Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the many blessings bestowed upon our great nation and with a grateful heart give thanks to God,” Gardner said in a statement. “As we spend time with family and friends it is important to honor the men and women in uniform who defend our freedoms and sacrifice so much for this country who will not be home with their families this Thanksgiving.

“We are all fortunate to live in a democratic nation where we are free and have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I am grateful to serve the incredible people of Colorado and my family and I wish everyone across the state and the country a happy Thanksgiving.”

Colorado Politics

Colorado Politics

Colorado Politics, formerly The Colorado Statesman, is the state's premier political news publication, renowned for its award-winning journalism. The publication is also the oldest political news outlet in the state, in continuous publication since 1898. Colorado Politics covers the stories behind the stories in Colorado's state Capitol and across the Centennial State, focusing on politics, public policy and elections with in-depth reporting on the people behind the campaigns — from grassroots supporters to campaign managers and the candidates and issues themselves.