By Eric Heinz
Since the departure of Rep. Serena Gonzales- Gutierrez from the Colorado House District 4 seat after she won an at-large seat on Denver City Council, three people have filed to replace her.
In Colorado, vacant state legislature seats are filled by a group of party officers from the party who held the seat and not by special election. A selection process is set to take place for the three Democrats on Aug. 26 at Regis University’s Claver Hall.
The doors open at noon with the vacancy committee meeting at 2 p.m., which will also be available on Zoom. Delegates from the party will choose the successor to Gonzales-Gutierrez.
Cecilia Espinoza is a former immigration attorney and judge who has participated in local politics for years, and after she retired from the Department of Justice, she became involved in the Denver political scene. She has also served as the Denver Democrats HD4 captain.
“I want to continue to work on gun safety, and I also believe that it’s important that we continue to work on the housing crisis that we have and the state,” Espinoza said. “Immigration would probably be a third issue because we have a large population of vulnerable immigrants.” Espinoza said she worked for years enforcing the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and providing transparency in government is something she’s been “very committed to personally.” “I have the background and experience, and my political commitment has been demonstrated by my work in the party, and my knowledge of northwest Denver,” she said.
Tim Hernández is a teacher who worked at North High School until his contract was not renewed, sparking a walkout by students in 2022. He is currently planning to work with Urban Peak. Hernández said his background in education as well as his work with Sen. Chuck Schumer’s office in Washington, D.C., gave him the necessary tools to be a qualified replacement.
“I know exactly what’s happening in our schools and how significantly underfunded we are,” he said. “When we talk about the sues of school funding, I’m intimately aware of what’s happening in our schools and what we need to change.”
Hernández said he also wants to focus on housing issues as well as gun control measures. He said he wants to expand “things like an assault weapons ban and making sure that we can actually tackle the cultural issue and the root cause of gun violence, which is often housing and education. I think there are a lot of ways that we can have intersectional conversations of gun violence that lead into issues of community safety as well.”
Rocelle Galindo is a former state representative from Weld County who moved to the north Denver area in the last few years.
Galindo said one of her main accomplishments in her first tenure in the Legislature was sponsoring the creation of the Office of Just Transition, which helps communities try to transition from coal burning as an energy source.
“I tend, though, not to focus on the past but instead on all of the other policies,” Galindo said. “I still want to drive forward to advance racial, gender, climate and economic justice. There’s just so much work yet to be done.”
Galindo said she also wants to work on issues related to helping immigrants and help tenants stay in their homes, as well as continue to advance racial and gender equity issues.
“I hope that I might continue to advance our shared progressive values in the halls of a capital that too often shies away from them with inaction and half-measures that fall short of the justice that all of our people need,” she said.
More information about the vacancy selection process can be found at denverdemocrats. org.