Friday night’s reception to celebrate diversity at the legislature was so well attended that the venue had to be moved to hold the over-flow crowd. Originally scheduled for a meeting room upstairs in the downtown bank building for an anticipated few dozen, it was instead moved to a larger room at the foot of two massive escalators that accommodated several hundred. And even then it was tough to navigate the crowd of politicos — many whom included elected officials and lobbyists — who gathered at the onset of the weekend to hail the victories made at the legislature.
When the House convenes this week, there will be a record number of five blacks and 12 Latinos filling the chairs in the chambers. That’s in addition to a large number of women in the General Assembly — which has always been a Colorado distinction — and a record eight gay legislators in the House and Senate.
State Rep. Angela Williams, a Democrat from Denver who will chair the business labor workforce committee and the audit committee at the Capitol, beamed as she and event co-organizer Rep.-elect Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, shared the duty of introducing current and soon-to-be sworn-in members of the 69th General Assembly. There were hoots and hollers as the Democratic leaders from around the state took to a microphone in the front to briefly explain where their districts are and what committees they’ll serve on. But the crowd was so large that on several occasions they were reminded to keep it down so everyone could hear. Rep.-elect John Buckner of HD 40’s southeast Aurora — a former high school principal — was almost successful as he bellowed out his well used command to hush up.
Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, accompanied by his wife and daughter, said the legislators “bring not just color to the Capitol, but competence. We need to make sure these people know we have their back.”
Members of the Colorado Democratic Latin@ Caucus and the Black Legislative Caucus of Colorado lined up afterwards in an anterior lobby to have their photos taken together.
In attendance were numerous citywide officials — Debbie Ortega, Robin Kniech and Albus Brooks from the council; Auditor Dennis Gallagher and Denver Clerk & Recorder Debra Johnson; representatives from the congressional offices of Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet and Rep. Diana DeGette; newly chosen Majority Leader Morgan Carroll of Aurora, former state Rep. and current lobbyist Rosemary Marshall, and Speaker-elect Mark Ferrandino of Denver who carefully shielded his one-year-old foster daughter, Lila, from cameras. Current House Speaker Frank McNulty, who will officially give up his leadership post on Jan. 9, had his picture snapped with former Speaker Ruben Valdez.