Bob, why are you running? Why are you doing that to yourself, again? I know all candidates are asked similar questions and especially when running for reelection or another office. For me, the answer is that public service presents unexpected opportunities to make a real difference in the lives of people in our communities. Many run for office on a specific platform and I am certainly no exception. I am committed to conservative values—limited government, lower taxes, less regulation, freedom of religion and conscience, and protection of life and traditional families. These things matter and I fought for all of them during my eight years as a State Representative—and I pledge to continue to do so as your State Senator.
But, I also have to honestly say that some of the most rewarding work that I was able to do in the State House were the unexpected opportunities to make a difference. As with so many things in life, it was not the things planned, but rather the unexpected opportunities that are most valuable. For me, this was the chance to enact significant legislation for the rights of crime victims and to work closely with the advocates for crime victims.
My very first year as a legislator, advocates for the rights of crime victims approached me with a significant issue. At that time in Colorado, victims of violent crimes were required to petition the court for information regarding changes to their assailant’s prison sentence or parole. Imagine how overwhelming it must have felt for a victim, plying the court for information about their attacker’s sentence, all the while wondering if they were in danger. This was a compelling issue and one that as a legislator, I actually could begin to change. Through close cooperation with Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance, colleagues from both sides of the aisle, and input from courageous victims, we were able to pass legislation giving victims the right to notification of changes made to their assailant’s sentence or parole. Helping victims gain greater rights to information was the first milestone on this path of victim’s rights advocacy and one which helped inspire future legislation.
I recall first learning that more sex offenders are on probation than incarcerated and of the many challenges our probation departments face to keep the public safe. Our Department of Corrections has a responsibility to safely monitor and manage the reintegration of these probationers into our society, but we have to make sure they have the necessary tools to fulfill this obligation. With near unanimous support, my colleagues and I successfully passed legislation that established the Sex Offender Management Board within the Department of Corrections, and laws that required registration for sex offenders with no fixed residence and from other states.
In my eight years as a legislator, I was privileged to work with crime victim advocates to pass a total of eight bills that added protections and strengthened victims’ rights. Like the vast majority of my constituents, I believe victims’ must be given rights and protections in their cases that are equal to those granted to the criminal defendant. When I was first elected, the rights of crime victims was not something on the forefront of my agenda. I believed in them, of course. But, this was truly an issue that “found me” and it has made all of the difference in my career as a legislator. It was unexpected opportunity to make a difference for Colorado as well as an unexpected legacy, for which I am forever grateful.
Why am I running? Because with effective conservative leadership, we can make a difference for the people of Colorado—and that’s what makes legislative service so rewarding.