Jensen For Colorado

Annmarie Jensen

Candidate for Colorado State Senate District 17



Dear Vacancy Committee Member, 
 I seek your vote to fill the vacancy in Senate District 17,
 Throughout 2018, I have run as a strong progressive candidate with 30 years of public policy experience with the Governor’s office and both Houses of the Colorado legislature, and a long list of legislative accomplishments. (see below.)  When I spoke with many of you earlier in the year Mike Foote was running for Boulder County DA and I had no opportunity to contrast my views and accomplishments with his. Some people have asked what distinguishes me from Mike and why they should choose me over someone who has already served our community. I respect Mike. However, I am the best candidate because: I will do a better job of protecting our neighborhoods and climate from oil and gas; because of my legislative accomplishments; and because of my focus on equity and opportunity for all. Additionally, as I explain below, my work on criminal justice better reflects the values of this district.  
My Accomplishments - I Get Things Done. Those who know my 30 years of working with the legislature will tell you I get things done. I saved the budget line item for affordable housing, created recycling programs, improved our air, improved tenant's rights and the rights of low-income people. I donated my time to under-served arts and culture organizations and secured $12 million in funding for small community arts programs like the Longmont Museum, WOW Children’s Museum, the Louisville Cultural Council, Cleo Parker Robinson, PHAMILY, and Su Teatro.   I have been a leader in the Boulder Democratic Party for 30 years. I have served as Precinct Committee Person, Area Coordinator, Budget Chair, Vice Chair, and twice as Truman Dinner Chair, and on the State Central Committee.  I appreciate all the hard work you do as volunteers.
Diversity in Representation – Supports Equity and Opportunity for All. As a grandmother, looking back on my experience as a single mom who raised two children in Boulder County while struggling to pay the bills and founding and running a small business, I realize this type of experience is too often missing from the discussions at the capitol. A diverse set of voices is key to public policy that supports the many, not the few. I know the struggles of women and I recognize the hardships faced by people of color, the disabled and the LGBTQ community.  In Colorado men are still paid 30% more than women. What kind of society are we when half of us are paid 2/3 of what the other half receive? Many in our community simply cannot get ahead because the high cost and low availability of childcare and health care, and affordable housing. In our County, 32% of Latino children live below the poverty line. Where has the leadership been on these important economic issues?  
Democrats won the recent elections because we committed to policies that promote equity and opportunity for all. We can no longer support the status quo. Now is the time for bold action. I support single payer universal health care, child care assistance reform, public preschool throughout Colorado, affordable housing for all, increased funding for public education, and letting teachers teach!  I will not rest while 32% of Latino children in our county live below the poverty line.  If we want to keep our majorities, we need to deliver for the state and our district.
Oil and Gas/Climate Change -Time for Bold Action.  Yesterday, at a meeting of oil and gas activists, many of them told me they would leave the party if the new Democratic majority can’t deliver on this issue. As a former lobbyist for neighbors who are threatened by oil and gas, I know these issues well. * For too long, the oil and gas lobby has refused any reasonable measure to safeguard our communities and our planet. * Economic inequality leads to environmental injustice. People with money can hire attorneys to fight oil and gas development. Low-income people cannot. * Our climate change goals have been too modest and too narrowly focused. We all contribute to the problem of climate change and it is time for creative approaches. The legislature must create incentives for behavior that protects our planet. It is time for new leadership to work to protect our communities and planet.

Criminal Justice Reform – More Equity and Opportunity for All.  Mike and I have different views on criminal justice. My views are more aligned with progressive organizations. I ask you to consider these legislative positions taken by Mike, that do not reflect our district or progressive, evidence-based public policy.
HB 15-1025—Juvenile Competency to Proceed. Mike’s was the deciding vote to kill this bill in committee. The bill would have allowed the age and developmental issues of juvenile offenders to be more fully considered when courts consider their competency to stand trial. The bill was the product of several years of work by the bipartisan Committee on the Continuing Examination of the Mentally Ill in the Criminal Justice System. It had broad-based support, a long history of research into best practices, and many years of stakeholder meetings. Mike was the only Democrat to oppose this bill in committee, and he sided with Republicans to kill it.
HB 17-1322—Domestic Violence Reports by Medical Professionals.  Mike opposed this new law that allows medical professionals to refer survivors to a victim advocate instead of law enforcement when the survivor believes a referral to law enforcement would create danger. Mike was one of only three Democrats to vote against this bill. Mike opposed the bill, in spite of pleas from victim advocates, and in spite of research evidence that shows victims are in the greatest danger when the perpetrator is confronted. We must listen to women. We must trust women. We must respect survivors. The House Vote was 58 – 7 in support, with Mike voting against it.
HB 17-1302—Juvenile Sexting Crime.  I helped lead the successful effort to remove the felony penalty for juvenile sexting. Unfortunately, Mike and the Colorado District Attorney’s Council forced a compromise that substituted a civil penalty for juvenile sexting. I worked with a coalition of organizations, including One Colorado, the ACLU, the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Colorado Youth Matters, and others, who objected to the civil penalty because young people, fearing the penalty, will be less likely to seek help in a high-risk situation. Stories abound of young people committing suicide and self-harm after someone shared their images. Young people should not be afraid to confide in a trusted adult. The penalty should be removed and we should educate young people about the dangers of sexting and the permanent nature of shared digital sexual images.
These three examples demonstrate that Mike has sided with conservatives even when there is strong disagreement from Democratic and progressive organizations. His positions have not been consistent with a progressive agenda or the criminal justice concerns of this district.
Sentencing reform is critical to creating equity in the criminal justice system. Mike has shown little leadership on this crucial issue in his six years in office. I will lead on sentencing reform and here is why:

  • Colorado doubled all criminal sentences in 1985 to be “tough on crime”.

  • Data shows that Colorado’s criminal justice system imposes longer sentences on people of color and those who can’t afford private legal defense. This injustice has too long been ignored.

  • Many crime victims experience traumas that demands counseling and support.  These needs are not being met and sentencing reform will help create a pool of funding for survivors.  

  • We should review Colorado’s statutory sentences and reduce them unless it is shown that public safety would be compromised. The money we save should be used to expand programs for survivors.and offenders.

Much is at stake, it’s time for a bold progressive agenda to support the many, not the few. My lifetime of service and accomplishment demonstrates my commitment to equity and opportunity for all and makes me the progressive choice for this district.  

For a good discussion of the issues in this Senate Vacancy, see my interview by the Longmont Observer.

Annmarie Jensen – Sampling of Recent Legislative Accomplishments as a Public Interest Lobbyist

  • Saved the budget line item for affordable housing, when Bill Owens tried to delete it and supported additional funding for affordable housing 

  • Banning oil, tires, electronic waste and batteries in our landfills 

  • Supported tax credits for alternative fueled vehicles

  • Passage of Universal background checks for firearms

  • Passage of a bill to keep federally-prohibited domestic violence offenders from possessing weapons

  • Created a tax credit for the purchase of recycling equipment and machinery

  • Passage of tenant's rights legislation

  • Passage of police reform bills, that includes, a ban on chokeholds, additional racial harassment training, ban on racial profiling, opening of employment records so officers can't resign in lieu of termination. 

  • Created the Address Confidentiality Program to safeguard law enforcement, witnesses, and survivors of domestic violence and stalking

  • Created the first-ever state appropriation for housing and program services for survivors of domestic violence

  • Created the Recycling Resources Economic Opportunity Program and renewing the program

  • Created Colorado’s Paint Stewardship Recycling Service

  • Decriminalization of juvenile sexting

  • Supported efforts to protect neighbors from oil and gas companies. This included the local control bill, the liability for the actions of operators bill, and the school setback bill

  • Passage of a bill allowing local governments and developers to enter into contracts to provide affordable rentals 

  • Passage of a bill to create the opportunity for sexual assault victims to do anonymous rape kit collections 

  • Passage of a bill to allow domestic violence victims to get medical care without police interaction, when the victim made that choice

  • Passage of improvements that made it easier to claim the child care tax credit

  • Passage of legislation to require gun owners to pay for background checks instead of taxpayers

  • Creation of Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, for addiction and crisis mental health services (Law enforcement refrains from arrest and sends people for help)

  • Marijuana reform that included addressing illegal home grows and organized crime problem