Cynthia Martinez for Adams County Clerk and Recorder!

Cynthia Martinez has a long and demonstrated history of fairness, integrity, strong work ethic and putting the interests of the broader community first. All of which makes her the ideal candidate for the Adams County Clerk and Recorder position that Karen Long must vacate, due to term limits, after her long and distinguished role in the position.
Cynthia currently serves on the Brighton city council, where she has earned a reputation as a bridge builder and consensus seeker. Her history of seeking solutions in the best interest of all bodes well for what Adams County citizens can expect from her if voters choose her to run the County Clerk and Recorder office.
Let’s face it – not a lot of policy decisions get made in the County Clerk and Recorder’s office. The overwhelming amount of the work performed day-to-day is dry administrative tasks like collecting fees in exchange for license plates and making sure the voter rolls are in order.
As far as the day-to-day operations of the office are concerned, Karen Long has the place running like a high-end watch.
Cynthia Martinez is the right candidate to step in and keep things moving smoothly. And that’s in the best interest of everyone in Adams County – the kind of solution Cynthia would be proud of!

Judy Solano For Colorado Senate!

Residents of Thornton, I have great news! If you want a Senator who is a tireless advocate for a first-rate public education for all of Colorado’s children, then you’re in luck! Judy Solano is running to replace the venerable Lois Tochtrop as your Senator. And if her eight year record in the House is any indication, Judy will bring common sense to the Senate chamber while standing in there every day for working families in her district and across Colorado.
Judy’s experience, reputation and relationships down at the Capitol will allow her to step into the Senate as one of the more esteemed and respected members. Judy Solano could end up being one of the most effective Senators in the 2015 session.
During her tenure in the Colorado House from 2005 to 2012, she won various awards for her dedication to causes close to her heart: teachers, recycling and veterans are just a few examples.
I first met Judy Solano on the 2006 campaign trail. I was trying to ingratiate myself with Speaker Andrew Romanoff, and he said something to the effect of “my seat is pretty safe, perhaps you can help Judy Solano up in Brighton.” Andrew was right about the security of his seat. It was something like 80% registered Dems. I think he had the safest seat in Colorado.
Then-Representative Judy Solano, on the other hand, had one of the toughest. The old HD56 encompassed Brighton, a little of Thornton, and some outlying rural areas. Today, HD56 is more reliably Republican. (Good luck to Vicki Snyder, carrying the Democratic party banner this year vs. Kevin Priola for this solidly red house seat.) In 2006, it was a true swing seat, the type of race a party must win to claim a majority and hold the reigns of power in the legislature. I can’t imagine the pressure a candidate on either side feels when running in one of the few truly-up-for-grabs districts. Like Andrew Romanoff is doing this year in CD6.
Judy pulled it out and carried that swing district for the Democrats not once, or twice, but four straight times, including the GOP wave election of 2010, until she was ultimately termed out. 4-0 in a swing district is an impressive record.
You might think electoral success of this magnitude might go to her head. Not at all. Quite the opposite, Judy Solano may be the most selfless person I know in politics. She is always out helping others. She will make a fantastic Senator!
FULL DISCLOSURE: I have had the honor and privilege of calling Judy and Manny friends of mine for years now. I consider myself lucky to know them. We have hosted fundraisers together. Although they have yet to invite me over for a beer…

Don Quick for Attorney General

Don Quick was an excellent prosecutor here in Adams County during his eight years as District Attorney. He always stood for justice.
Don has all the qualities you want in an Attorney General. He’s even handed and hard-working, a no-nonsense leader more concerned about results than publicity. And don’t forget the strong sense of justice.
Don likes to say he may be the second smartest attorney in his home but the smartest in this race for Attorney General. And he’s probably right! His wife Kerrie Boese certainly has the chops and pedigree and intelligence to make this a compliment to Don.
Now we’re seeing an environmentalist side of Don Quick the DA’s office never afforded him.  This is fantastic, not just the stance, but the emphasis. The expanded environmental protection Don Quick will provide Colorado is yet another example, for those who say both parties are the same, where I argue no, the two major political parties have significant differences, it’s all a matter of degrees. The protection of our land, air and water is needed on all fronts.
Speaking of protecting our air, land and water, if Don is elected Attorney General, expect his office to function similar to that of Ken Salazar. Don is clearly proud of Ken’s enthusiastic endorsement. And he should be. Former Attorney General and Senator Salazar has such a stellar and strong reputation in national circles, he is widely cited as a possible Vice-Presidential candidate. Also deservedly so.
Don Quick will be a great Attorney General for Colorado, just like Ken Salazar was!

Joe Neguse for Colorado Secretary of State

Joe Neguse will make a great Secretary of State for Colorado because he possesses a keen legal mind, and more importantly, he understands the importance and sanctity of the voting process in our republic.
Joe’s work in the critical area of protecting the right of the people to vote has earned him national recognition.  I can’t think of a better way to salute someone who’s worked hard to protect and expand voting rights than casting a vote for them as Secretary of State!
It was great to see Joe Neguse out campaigning hard the night of September 25, helping the Hickenlooper/Garcia ticket. He was as energetic and frenetic as always, and those are just two of the dozens of lovable qualities of Joe Neguse. Joe has been involved in Adams County Democratic Party circles for years now. Let me take a minute to tell you the Joe Neguse I know.
First, I need to start with a congratulations to Joe and his fiancée, Andrea, on their recent engagement! Best wishes to you both!
Joe has served on the CU Board of Regents for six years now. For the first two years, part of his district was in Adams County. It wasn’t much, maybe 15%, but he came to all our meetings and events and he was always accessible.
Joe always has a fiery, can-do attitude and it is infectious. Regardless of the outcome of the 2014 Secretary of State’s race, Joe Neguse has a bright future in politics.
Joe can be counted on to grab the mic at a slumbering meeting of Democrats and rouse the “crowd” with a boisterous and energetic intro. We need more of that in our leaders. Part of being a good political leader is moving the people who hear you, and Joe gets that, and he’s good at it, and that’s important.
Colorado hasn’t elected a Democrat Secretary of State since 1958.* Yeah, ’58. In other words, Eisenhower was President the last time a Dem was elected to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.
For more on Joe Neguse, Westword wrote up a detailed bio on him.
Last minute update: Joe’s opponent, currently the County Clerk in the right-wing bastion of El Paso County, is now running ads on TV. Please help Joe to respond, a donation of any size makes a big difference for a grassroots campaign like Joe’s.

For more information, visit Joe’s official campaign site:
* The esteemed and honorable Bernie Beusher, a Democrat from Grand Junction, did serve as Sec of State from 2010 to 2012, but he was appointed to the position and lost when up for re-election in 2012 to Scott Gessler.

Westminster, You Gotta Have Faith!

Faith WinterFaith Winter represents all that is good about electoral politics.
She is people focused, hard working, she listens to her constituents, she is loyal to her base, she’s in it for the cause and not herself, and when necessary, she will buck her party.
Diligent and sincere, compassionate and intelligent, firm about her convictions, people who know Faith love her and her style of representation.
Faith is currently a city councilor for the great city of Westminster. She has been out walking almost every night, talking to the voters of HD35 as she seeks to replace Representative Cherilyn Peniston, a woman who deserves a tribute blog post of her own. (Rep. Peniston is “termed out” after having won the last four elections in HD35.)
Like all but the biggest city city councilors, Faith earns very little money serving the people of Westminster dutifully at long hours. Of course, she doesn’t complain. She will actually beam at you while telling you about her encounter with a constituent concerned about a local park. This is because Faith understands retail politics. She knows this is how you win elections. Faith knows that politics is a contact sport, so you have to get out and contact the people. And she loves every minute of it.
Faith Winter was elected to Westminster City Council with more votes than any other candidate ever. I’d call that a seal of approval. (Update: Faith informs me Emma Pinter surpassed her total, making Councilor Pinter the top vote getter ever. Records are made to broken! And hey, Emma Pinter is no slouch!)
In 2013, Faith was recognized by the Denver Post as a “young gun” for good reason – she works hard and had raised a lot of money. And knowing Faith, I’m sure she was ecstatic to be honored with a comparison to a metal shaft designed to fire bullets at deadly speeds.
I love Faith for a number of reasons. I love Faith for her unabashed embrace of all-things environmental. I love Faith for her undying passion for liberal causes. I love Faith for dedicating her life to an industry – political organizing – notorious for really awful, practically non-existent pay checks. (Faith’s day job is Executive Director for Emerge Colorado where she recruits and trains women to run for political office.)*
I once asked Faith which woman she thinks is best qualified to be Governor of Colorado. Faith is a never-ending font of smiles and can-do attitude, but one thing that gets under her skin is an old-boy network. No greater old boy network exists than the history of Colorado guvs.
She was a little offended at the question. To her, it’s obvious that Cary Kennedy and Betsy Markey are already qualified to be Colorado’s executive – do their resumes require a male moniker at the top? Morgan Carroll and Judy Solano also popped to mind in the first 10 seconds. And Faith is right. All four of those women would make fantastic governors. With all due respect to Governor Hickenlooper, a pretty damn good Governor in his own right.
Faith has endured a pregnancy while in office. I probably shouldn’t use the word “endured.” She would never characterize it as such. To her, the way she is, you don’t complain about a blessing of this nature. You show up at work at 7 PM on a Tuesday night while 8 months pregnant and listen as citizens criticize your work and your colleagues prattle on and on. You’ll never hear her complain, although God knows, she has every right to.
It would be too easy and too cliche to say that Faith is the “do it all” or “have it all” woman with the great job, a perch of an elected office and a beautiful family in her lovely new home. Somehow that feels like a cop-out, and for a couple of reasons. First, Faith would never be one to hold herself out in that manner. Second, it’s not fair, it’s too high a bar to hold anyone too.
Most of all though, it feels sexist. No one expects our male elected officials to hold down day jobs and raise their kids all at the same time. And the last thing I want to do is salute one of my favorite women leaders with a sexist double-standard.
Westminster, you gotta have Faith! Vote for Faith Winter in HD35!

* Emerge Colorado is a branch of Emerge America. Faith was the individual responsible for getting the Colorado chapter up and running. Women interested in learning more about running for office – I was thinking of you – should click here to learn more:

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree.



Watching the national stories I am finding a disconnect from the voting record of Cory Gardener and Mike Coffman and what their campaigns are running on. They both are part of the most do nothing congress in the history of the United States. I guess that is the dilemma for them both. They can’t run on shutting down the government or repealing the ACA over 50 times. How about immigration, oh ya they have done nothing there either. How about impeaching the president? Well that didn’t set well with the public last time and polls show the people won’t stand for that now.   There is always the personhood amendment. Last time, that went down in flames. So this is the dilemma for both. The obvious answer is they have nothing, and how appropriate is that? In their ravenous appetite for the far right vote and Koch brother approval, they have built a box they are having a hard time breaking out of. So lets put out a TV commercial that has women talking about issues, which they have done nothing with, and avoid talking about women issues. Next, they will have an advertisement with Latino’s talking about issues and avoid talking about immigration.   They must think that Coloradoans are stupid. I am sure their next plan will be another manufactured scandal. Can you say Bengasi?


This game plan goes all the way to the local level. The fact is Republicans do not get voted in Adams County unless there is a perceived scandal. If there are none they must manufacture one. So goes with Eric Hansen, Brigitte Grimm and Stan Martin. On August 26th. Commissioner Eric Hansen made a statement on social media and a press release asking for an internal audit because of errors on a tax report. You may ask if Hansen notified the other commissioners of this. The answer is no, because that would have devalued the perception of a scandal and Hansen the savior of the county. There is no scandal and Hansen you are no savior. Later it was found that errors were from the incompetent Republican Treasurer having not added in new property assessments. Moving on to Stan Martin, who sued Cynthia Martinez for not being a resident of Adams County. The courts found that Mr. Martin failed to provide enough credible evidence to support his frivolous suit, which shows how truly desperate he is to lie in his weak campaign.   Good try to all, but as you can see the apple does not fall far from the tree, especially if it is rotten. Let’s try to talk about issues and avoid theatrics. Adams, your vote counts. These Republicans don’t deserve to be rewarded for conspiracy theories, negative campaigning, and desperate attempts to get attention.


Adams County and Education Reform- Part 4: Portfolio Assessments

A portfolio is defined as “a set of pieces of creative work collected together to show someone’s ability.” (1) For our purpose a portfolio is the collection of student work that shows they’ve met Colorado state academic standards. Basically, teacher and student at each grade level collaborate to choose the student’s best work that demonstrates that he/she has achieved the standard with the exception of local and state approved tests like the ACT or SAT’s that are automatically placed in the portfolio. Students are still assessed or evaluated based on an authentic spectrum of work and ability.

Portfolios follow the student from grade to grade. An electronic version would be a rubric that compiles student data such as attendance, teacher commentary, grades for each subject, local and corporate made test scores that measure basic skills and subject matter skills, extra-curricular activities, interests/hobbies outside of school, social-emotional score, 21st Century Skill/Workplace Readiness score, problem-solving/critical thinking, and samples of student work that show the best the student was able to accomplish. The rubric would then crunch the numbers that combine to prove a student’s abilities given a certain point system for each category. The total score would determine if a student was ready for the next grade level.

Teachers use portfolios to hold parent conferences that speak to each skill, domain, and student demonstration of critical thinking and problem-solving. Conversations surround the student’s total cognitive, affective, and kinesthetic abilities than just around a test score. The whole child is assessed using the portfolio system and in evaluating that child’s readiness for the next grade level. It is a system that is efficacious and authentic because it captures the student’s abilities in real-time and not just one time like on a standardized test.

An example of a portfolio is a student collects his/her work for each semester and consults with each teacher about the work evaluated in each class. The student then works with an academic advisor to mark and analyze his/her work in a rubric that calculates the demonstration of skill or the successful completion of student work in a given category. Let’s say that a student participated in Student Council, Basketball, and completed outside service hours. These interactions or extra-curricular activities would be weighted in to the score of the rubric along with the academic components such as subject matter tests, weekly quizzes, and student created work such as term papers, projects, and group work. A school district may use standards from the 21st Century Workforce Readiness standards and the Common Core Curriculum to measure student academic achievement along with the social-emotional and critical thinking aspects of human relations involved in public school.

Schools that already use the portfolio system of assessment to analyze student skills and abilities are Sheridan School District, Falcon School District and Vantage Point High School in Adams 12 Five Star Schools. The portfolio assessment is cost effective, time-saving, and involves the student throughout the entire process. Whereas standardized testing is costly, time-consuming, and only involves the student at one point in time: the test date.

Millions of dollars of taxpayer money are thrown away each year on standardized testing that is only used to measure the growth in math, reading and writing for comparison between school districts. These measurements fail to evaluate the entire school program and total student experience within an academic year. Now, using Senate Bill 191, standardized tests will be used to measure teacher effectiveness based on a student’s performance on a single testing system known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) test. According to the PARCC creators they have successfully piloted the test and are ready to roll it out in our state next year. The Colorado State Senate wanted a metric to grade teachers to get that Race to the Top money. We must ask if any thought was given about the ramifications of using a one-time standardized test to measure a teacher’s performance? What are the costs on instruction time? What is the impact on children’s learning? The test and the curriculum may cause more problems and cost the districts more money to carry out the curriculum than getting limited amounts of Race to the Top funds. Teachers may have helped create the test and the Common Core Curriculum but they did not create Colorado’s Senate Bill 191.

The cost of implementing PARCC and the Common Core Standards includes outside consultants, training and development of teachers, working with teacher professional organizations and unions to affect a fair and balanced teacher evaluation system, training administrators and all other relevant staff, parent education and awareness or public relations needed to tell parents about PARCC, purchasing the test and computer software, upgrading hardware to contain the software, and purchasing the paper-and-pencil version. School districts and taxpayers are burdened with the heavy cost of standardized test costs and in the long run these tests aren’t used for any real purpose other than for a testing company and its “partners” to make a profit. The student loses and the corporation that created the test wins.

Tests should measure student ability only and that score should be used to move the student to the next level of their education or for entrance into the college or career of their choice. Instead this test is used to punish schools and misrepresent the hard work of good teachers.

Portfolios are used by students to present their work to a future employer and college/university upon successful completion of the secondary academic level. This system benefits students. They are an authentic evaluation of the interactions between student and teacher. Finally, they are cost efficient to the school district that uses them and to the tax payer that relies on them to promote their children’s academic success.

1.) Oxford American Desk Dictionary & Thesaurus (Third Edition)