NEW STATE SENATE LEADER NAMED
Pueblo Democrat calls for higher professional standards.
The next president of the Colorado state Senate called for higher standards and “common-sense solutions” Thursday, signaling a new tone for a legislative body that has been bitterly divided by partisan politics and sexual assault investigations.
State Sen. Leroy Garcia, a Pueblo Democrat and former Marine, was unanimously selected by his peers to lead the state’s upper chamber after Democrats won a 19-seat majority. Republicans previously controlled the chamber by one seat.
“It’s my hope to bring back a new energy and standards to the Senate,” Garcia said. “Because my success is your success, and ultimately the success of this great state.”
The shift in power in the Senate gives Colorado Democrats complete control over state government. After voters opted not to approve tax increases for roads and schools, state lawmakers and Gov.-elect Jared Polis will be forced to tackle these perennial issues.
“We’re going to face some tough challenges,” Garcia said. “The state faces tough challenges. But I’m absolutely confident with this dynamic caucus, with these leaders, we’ll be able to represent every Coloradan, we’ll be committed to finding common-sense solutions to move our state forward.”
Garcia, who was previously minority leader, will lead the Democratic caucus along with state Sens. Lois Court of Denver and Steve Fenberg of Boulder. Court was elected president pro tempore and Fenberg majority leader.
The top leaders are subject to confirmation by their respective chambers when the legislature resumes business in January.
Republican senators also selected their leaders. State Sen. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, will be the minority leader. State Sen. John Cooke will be assistant minority leader.
In a statement, Holbert, who was majority leader the last two years, warned Democrats against abusing their power.
“The people have spoken and our Democratic colleagues now have control of the state Senate, which gives them an advantage in terms of getting legislative action approved,” he said. “But that’s not a license to run roughshod over the 46 percent of district residents in Colorado who didn’t support their candidates or ideas but still need to be heard, represented and respectfully treated at the statehouse.”
Other lawmakers selected for leadership in the Senate are:
• Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, assistant majority leader.
• Faith Winter, D-Brighton, caucus chair.
• Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, whip.
• Dominick Moreno, DCommerce City, Joint Budget Committee.
• Rachel Zenzinger, DArvada, Joint Budget Committee.
• Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, caucus chair.
• Dennis Hisey, R-Fountain, Joint Budget Committee.
The parties also selected their House leaders Thursday.
On the Democratic side, Rep. KC Becker of Boulder was elected speaker and Rep. Alec Garnett of Denver was chosen to replace her as majority leader.
State Rep. Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, was reelected House minority leader, and Rep. Kevin Van Winkle, R-Highlands Ranch, is the new assistant minority leader.
Other lawmakers selected for leadership in the House are:
• Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood, assistant majority leader.
• Edie Hooton, D-Boulder, caucus chair.
• Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City, deputy caucus chair.
• James Coleman, D-Denver, co-whip.
• Jeff Bridges, D-Greenwood Village, co-whip.
• Lori Saine, R-Firestone, caucus chair.
• Perry Buck, R-Windsor, whip.