Pue­blo Demo­crat calls for higher pro­fes­sional stan­dards.

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Nic Gar­cia

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.

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