Editor’s note: This represents the opinion of The Denver Post editorial board, which is separate from the paper’s news operation. Read more endorsements here.
Colorado received a new seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in large part because of the Front Range’s booming growth, so it is fitting that the new district be centered on the sprawling suburbs north of Denver where blue-collar Coloradans have flocked for lower-priced housing, job opportunities and a more suburban and rural quality of life.
We hope voters from Commerce City to Greeley will support Yadira Caraveo to be Colorado’s next congresswoman – a strong voice in Washington, D.C., for all of Colorado, but especially the district where she has lived since second grade.
Caraveo is not a typical politician. She is a pediatrician who, after her residency in New Mexico, returned home to work at a private practice in Adams County that predominately serves low-income patients on Medicaid. She took an interest in politics while advocating for health care policy, including Obama’s Affordable Care Act, and collective bargaining for health care workers. She tried advocacy from the outside with organizations like the Early Childhood Partnership of Adams County and a governor-appointed commission on mental health transformation.
“Despite that advocacy, what was getting really frustrating for me in clinic every day was how difficult it was for families to really live the life I had lived growing up,” she said, noting her father was able to provide for her family with a single construction job. “It was regular conversations with patients in clinic about their parents working three to four jobs and how difficult it was to have kids during that, whether they had health insurance with their work and if not, if Medicaid was going to cover them when it was constantly being slashed in funding.”
She successfully ran for Colorado state House District 31, representing Thornton, in 2018, saying she was ready to fight against the insurance industry and other health care systems that she said had repeatedly failed her patients.
As a state lawmaker, she successfully pushed for mandatory sick leave policies and a nicotine tax that helped fund a universal preschool program about to be launched statewide.
But it wasn’t just about health care policy; Caraveo said at her practice, she could tell by the air quality and visibility whether there was going to be a rush of patients suffering asthma attacks.
In the legislature, she was a prime sponsor of Senate Bill 181, which overhauled Colorado’s regulation of the oil and gas industry, including methane emissions and venting and flaring. It’s that legislation that makes her most vulnerable in a district where the oil and gas industry is a major employer and revenue generator.
The Denver Post editorial board supported the legislation in 2019 because we thought it returned balance to the state-wide regulation of oil and gas operations, a heavy industrial process that was increasingly taking place adjacent to suburban neighborhoods in Congressional District 8 and beyond.
It’s a policy that puts her sharply at odds with her opponent, Colorado State Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, who opposed Senate Bill 181 and is a champion of the oil and gas industry, noting its importance for the economy in her district, the state, and national security.
Kirkmeyer is a fiscal conservative who is right to be concerned about government spending, the debt, and the deficit. Her track record as a Weld County commissioner of getting the county out of debt and shoring up the pension is impressive.
However, we were disappointed she didn’t bring concrete examples of how she would help right the fiscal ship in Washington, D.C. There’s no doubt, however, that Kirkmeyer would be more likely to oppose spending bills, particularly on Medicaid, than Caraveo would, emphasizing that reduced spending is one of her top priorities along with securing the southern border.
Finally, Caraveo impressed us with her commitment to reproductive freedom for women in America.
Kirkmeyer described herself as a pro-life Catholic woman who believes life begins at the moment of conception and said her priorities would always be with protecting unborn children.
“To me, it is about saving lives,” she said, adding that she could support an abortion ban at 20 weeks rather than at the moment an egg is fertilized. “I’m not an all-or-nothing person.”
Caraveo might be the polar opposite on the issue, saying she thinks Republicans have forfeited their right to demand a middle ground on the issue, having driven the end of Roe v. Wade which was the compromise allowing abortion restrictions at the point a fetus would be viable outside the womb but protecting a woman’s right to end a pregnancy before that point.
We need a voice in Congress like Caraveo’s, whether it’s fighting for reproductive freedom or for the health and quality of life of the hardworking residents in her district.
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