Four jockey to replace departing state senator

Daniel Kagan's resignation launches scramble for post

Posted 12/15/18

Arapahoe County Democrats are gearing up to pick a replacement for Daniel Kagan, who announced his resignation from the state Senate in early December. Kagan's resignation, announced on Dec. 5, takes …

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Four jockey to replace departing state senator

Daniel Kagan's resignation launches scramble for post

Posted
Four candidates are vying to take state Sen. Daniel Kagan's seat in Senate District 26.
 
Kagan's resignation, announced on Dec. 5, takes effect Jan. 11 — a week after the Colorado General Assembly convenes on Jan. 4. His departure opens up his Senate seat, which includes Littleton, Englewood, Cherry Hills Village, Greenwood Village, Sheridan and part of Aurora.
 
Kagan, a Democrat, did not respond to requests for comment.
 
Kagan's replacement will be decided by a vacancy committee composed of Arapahoe County Democratic Party precinct captains meeting on Jan. 5 in Englewood, said Ken Ohmstede, the party's Senate District 26 chair.
 
Littleton City Councilmember Kyle Schlachter announced his candidacy to Colorado Community Media on Dec. 15. 
 
"I have a unique range of experiences to serve the people of this district," Schlachter said in a statement. "My educational background is in researching environmental change, and I've taught in Japan and also at the University of Denver. I've worked in the public sector for almost a decade, supporting and promoting Colorado small businesses. In Littleton, I was elected to City Council and I enjoy working to bridge political differences to enact change that improves people's lives."
 
Schlachter said he would likely step down from Littleton City Council if chosen.
 
"I'll cross that bridge if the vacancy committee were to choose me," Schlachter said.
 
State Rep. Jeff Bridges was the first to announce a bid, Ohmstede said. Bridges currently represents House District 3, which includes Englewood, Greenwood Village, Cherry Hills Village, a small part of Littleton and the Cherry Creek neighborhood of Denver.
 
“This vacancy comes down to three questions: who can pass our progressive agenda, who's the most Democratic choice, and who can win the most competitive State Senate (race) in 2020 to hold our Democratic majority,” Bridges said in an emailed statement. “I have two years of proven success in the legislature, tens of thousands of (Senate District 26) residents have already voted for me to represent them, and I've won the most competitive State House race twice — this last time by more than 20 points.”
 
Two other candidates officially joined the bid in the week after Bridges, Ohmstede said: Angela Engel, a public education activist and author who previously ran for the state House, and Iman Jodeh, the spokesperson for the Colorado Muslim Society and the executive director of Meet the Middle East, a group that seeks to foster relationships between the United States and Middle East.
 
Engel, the founder of Uniting4Kids, an education advocacy nonprofit, said jumping into the state Senate wouldn't be a leap for her, considering her track record of advocating for public policy.
 
“I'm a 25-year children's advocate,” Engel said. “Time and again, when working on public policy, I find myself in a room filled with corporate paid lobbyists. Parents, teachers and students are absent. I'm angry at schools and kids getting a smaller percentage of the budget pie.”
 
Jodeh said she feels a seat in the state Senate would allow her to represent the district's diverse ethnic and religious groups.
“It speaks to who I am as a woman of color,” said Jodeh, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants. “It's important to have that understanding and deep roots in this district.”
 
Jodeh said she had been considering a run for Kagan's seat in 2020, but decided to jump on the opportunity when it came up this year.
 
“I hope to go to bat for marginalized groups,” Jodeh said. “I can recognize when and how policy is going to impact single mothers, children, and people of color.”
 
The vacancy committee will meet in Hampden Hall in the Englewood Civic Center on Jan. 5. Kagan's seat is next up for election in 2020.
 
Two eye Bridges' post
 
Meanwhile, at least two other candidates have their eye on Bridges' seat in the House, should it come up for grabs. If Bridges is chosen to succeed Kagan, the Arapahoe County Democrats will convene another vacancy committee to choose his successor on Jan. 7, said Mary Ellen Wolf, the party's county chair.
 
So far, the two officially declared candidates for the seat are Meg Froelich, a former Greenwood Village city councilmember who ran in the primary for the seat in 2016, and John Stone, a union organizer who spent much of 2018 supporting Democratic candidates for public office.
 
Froelich said she sees the House District 3 seat as an opportunity to further her progressive goals around the environment, LGBTQ rights and reproductive rights.
“Colorado is a progressive leader in the West, and that's an exciting place to be,” Froelich said. “We can be a bit more forward-thinking than some of our neighbors.”
 
Froelich is also a Democratic Party precinct captain, she said, and will likely sit on the vacancy committee that will choose Kagan's replacement. She said she doesn't see her role as a conflict of interest, and wouldn't say whether she'll vote for Bridges, whose election would free up the seat she's seeking.
 
John Stone, a union organizer who served as campaign manager for Kerry Tipper, who won the House District 28 seat in November, is the other declared candidate. Stone said he hoped to advocate for organized labor from the House District 3 seat.
 
“Worker power can bring about positive change,” Stone said. “I've had a lot of jobs: pizza delivery driver, carpenter, retail clerk, line cook — I understand what blue-collar workers are going through, and I've worked hard to organize them to make sure their voices are heard.”

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