An Interview with State Rep. Leslie Herod
Elected in 2016, Herod advocates for her community
Recently, a writer with The Sentry sat down with State Rep. Leslie Herod to discuss her tenure in the legislature. Herod represents Colorado House District 8, which encompasses parts of central and Northeast Denver and is centered in Five Points, Whittier, Cheesman Park, and City Park. Herod was first elected back in 2016 with an overwhelming 84 percent of the vote. Since then, Herod has been a strong advocate for her community in Colorado’s State House. Following her electoral win, Herod held her seat with overwhelming support and created the Herod Victory Fund to help elect more women, LGBTQ+ people, and people of color to office.
Herod made history as Colorado’s first LGBTQ+ African American in the Colorado General Assembly. Since becoming a representative, Herod has become the Chair of the House Finance Committee, as well as the Chair of the Committee of Legal Services. Herod also has a long list of accomplishments, sending 68 bills to the governor’s desk. These bills have ranged from a variety of issues such as criminal justice reform, mental health, youth homelessness, renewable energy, and more. Herod also helped to champion the Caring 4 Colorado ballot initiative, which created the state’s largest mental health foundation, raising $35 million for mental health and substance abuse treatments in Colorado in Denver. Herod also sits as the organization’s Board Chair.
Herod is a graduate of University of Colorado Boulder. Before being elected, Herod worked closely with former Governor Bill Ritter and worked on former President Obama’s 2012 campaign. In terms of the political spectrum, Herod aligns more on the progressive end of the spectrum, but nevertheless, she has been praised by assembly members from across the aisle. Herod has struck a balance between both fighting for progressive issues and seeking bipartisan solutions.
OS: First off, what committees and caucuses are you a part of?
LH: I am the chair of the Black Legislative Democratic Caucus, a member of the LGBTQ Caucus, the Women’s Caucus, and, of course, I am a member of the Democratic Caucus.
OS: Which district do you represent and what does it encompass?
LH: I represent House District 8 which is in central and Northeast Denver. So it includes Cheeseman Park, Park Hill, and Five Points, that area.
OS: What was your background before getting involved in politics?
LH: I have been in politics basically since I graduated college from CU Boulder where I was also in student government. I was president of the legislative council there, so I have kind of been doing this for a while actually, to be honest with you. Before officially running, I was Gov. Ritter’s senior policy advisor, and I was Obama’s deputy political director in Colorado for his 2012 campaign, so I have done a lot of work in the Capitol. I was also at the Gill Foundation, which seeks to secure funding for efforts to secure full equality for members of the LGBT+ community.
OS: And what piqued your interest about politics, as a whole?
LH: Just the ability to get things done for the community. Y’know I believe in legislative change, and so that’s something I am really focused on.
OS: I know you have worked on several bills, including a bill that ended qualified immunity and sought to enhance the integrity of Colorado’s law enforcement, do you have any specific acts or pieces of legislation that you are particularly proud of that you have worked on?
LH: Y’know, that’s a hard question. Depending on the day, I am really proud of a lot of them, to be honest with you. There’s a few that I didn’t really think would make it or didn’t know if Colorado was ready for the conversation, but I am really proud of the Law Enforcement Accountability Act that we passed. I’m also proud of working on drug de-felon-ization and the college kickstarter fund, which allows for every student to open a bank account for $100 to start their college journey. By the time that money adds up and they add to it, they could be well on their way to having their tuition ready to go for their first year of college by the time they turn 18. I’m really proud of that work, and I am really proud of this budget that we have recently put together.
OS: What other issues do you hope to tackle with your time as a representative in the State House?
LH: I think continuing on the work that we focused on: criminal justice reform, equity, and really setting up our communities for success.
OS: I know that recently your name has come up at an event protesting the state’s restrictions surrounding COVID-19. At the event, County Sheriff Steve Reams referred to you as a ‘terrorist’ against the citizens of Colorado. Do you have any response to Reams’s statements?
LH: I think he is just trying to use me to boost his career.
OS: Also, do you have any other ambitions for higher office or are you focusing on your career in the State House for now?
LH: For now I am focusing on the State House. We will see where the community wants me to go.
OS: What advice do you have for any young people/students who are considering getting involved in politics?
LH: I’d say do it. Just remember that politics is about not just leading, but that you’re fighting for a cause that people want to fight with you for. So, it’s not as individual of a sport as people might think it is. It’s really a team effort, and you got to work together to create the best policies for community change. The best thing to do to get involved is definitely volunteer on a campaign or for a cause that you really care about. There’s a lot of different areas of public service; you might want to be an elected official but want to be chief of staff. You might discover that you excel in communications, so you could look at being a communications director. There’s a lot of different roles and the best way to understand what those roles are and where you might see yourself fit is with volunteering.
This is a selection from the April 14 issue. To view the full issue, visit: https://online.flippingbook.com/view/46245145/