When Speaker Julie McCluskie addressed the House this morning, she asked all members entering their final term to stand and be recognized. There were only six of us, out of sixty five.
So many of my colleagues who started this journey with me six years ago have moved on to the Senate, run for another office, or gone on to other pursuits. That means I’m one of the most senior members of the State House, which is strange to say the least. I feel like I just got here!
But then again, as I look back at all of the work we’ve done over this time, it’s amazing that we were able to do it all in only six years.
This experience has also given me a new perspective on the work. The same themes I talked about on my first campaign–cost of living, climate change, education funding, civil rights, and more–continue to resonate today. We’ve made tremendous progress in every category, but the amount of work that remains speaks to the ongoing challenge of governing. No problem is every 100% solved. Crises and other societal changes present new angles to existing challenges. A democracy requires constant maintenance.
The idealistic grad school student I was 15 years ago would perhaps be disappointed, but the reality is that we have indeed made big changes that have made people’s lives significantly better. And we have to keep making those changes, every year. As with so many aspects of life, in public service we must focus more on the journey than on the destination.
The journey that lies ahead this session is just starting to come into focus. Voters were crystal clear last November that they want leaders who roll up their sleeves and solve real problems, not ideological crusaders who are all noise and no substance. As such, they elected historically large Democratic majorities of 46-19 in the House and 23-12 in the Senate.
I feel so honored that I will be serving as Speaker Pro Tempore of the House of Representatives for my final two years as we take on the work with which voters have entrusted us. In this position, I will be helping guide the legislature in the great work of governing for all of the people of our beautiful state.
We are going to build on our previous work to make housing, health care, and child care more affordable. We’re going to address the pressing air quality concerns that are negatively impacting the health of our residents and the depletion of the Colorado River and other river basins. We’re going to invest as heavily as we can in K-12 and higher education. We’re going to do everything we can to reduce the scourge of gun violence that takes too many lives in this country every single day. And we’re going to make sure that Colorado remains a state where women know they can access abortion care without government interference.
There’s much more to talk about, and I look forward to sharing more with you in future newsletters and town hall meetings. Until then, thank you again for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime in four consecutive elections. This work is the most meaningful I’ve ever done, and I’m going to give it everything I’ve got for another two years.
P.S. You may have noticed I’ve started officially using my new last name, deGruy Kennedy (pronounced like “degree” Kennedy). Kyra and I got married over two years ago, but I only made this change official after the 2022 elections. Guess I didn’t want to order new yard signs…