Chantell Taylor, Candidate for CU Regent
Which office are you running for and where?
I am running for CU Regent At-Large, which is a statewide race. The Board of Regents consists of seven seats representing each of the Congressional districts, and two at-large seats representing the electorate statewide.
When is your election day?
Technically my first election is the Democratic primary on June 26, but my campaign is focused on a long-term strategy to win in the general election on November 6, 2018.
Why did you decide to run for public office? Did someone encourage or inspire you? If so, who?
I have devoted my career to political advocacy and public service (launching and directing nonprofit organizations, serving on boards, volunteering on political campaigns, working for state government, etc.), but I have never served in elected office. This election cycle, I could no longer sit on the sidelines.
I have been helping Colorado candidates get elected since 1996 when I served as a field organizer for Congresswoman DeGette in her first election. Since then, I have helped countless candidates as a volunteer, campaign finance lawyer, advisor, fundraiser and organizer. I am especially passionate about getting qualified women in public office, which is why I served on the founding boards of Emerge and Blueflower. My inspiration to run comes from each of the candidates I have helped along the way; all of whom worked tirelessly to serve our communities and advance progressive policies that stand for women, equality, diversity, health care, affordable quality education, the environment and making the world a better place for future generations. Many of these candidates have become personal friends and mentors, including women like Congresswoman DeGette, Former Lt. Governor Gail Schoettler, Cary Kennedy and State Representative Faith Winter. They have always encouraged and inspired me to pursue elected office. But perhaps my biggest inspiration for this particular seat are my two teenage daughters. I shared their devastation in 2016 when the possibility of our first woman President was stolen by a candidate that could not be more contrarian to women’s rights, and I feel a responsibility now more than ever to set an example for them and advocate for their futures. I want my daughters and all Colorado kids to have the opportunity to earn a college education, but without the crippling burden of student debt like I had; the opportunity to learn in a safe, diverse learning environment that prepares them for thriving futures.
What did you do before you decided to run? Where did you go to school? Tell us a little about your resume.
I am a proud alum and product of the CU system I now want to serve. In order to attend college, I had to cobble together private loans, Federal Pell Grants, and work-study to pay my way. Thankfully, the work-study program allowed me to gain work experience at the University of Colorado Environmental Center where I ran the student chapter of the Rainforest Action Network. I’ll never forget how proud my parents were on the day I graduated – the first in my family – cum laude in geography.
After I graduated, I worked as an organizer on Congresswoman DeGette’s first campaign then moved to Washington, D.C. to work on fair trade issues for a nonprofit founded by Ralph Nader. That experience gave me the desire to pursue my law degree and take my professional pedigree to the next level.
During law school, I worked for the ACLU, Earth Justice and served on the board of the Public Interest Law Group. As a young attorney, I served on the Board of Directors of Colorado Common Cause and built a law practice specializing in non-profit, public policy and government relations. I was eventually recruited to launch a nonprofit government watchdog group called Colorado Ethics Watch and later went on to serve as General Counsel for the Public Interest Network and Environment America.
Along the way, I became a mom, and with that, I developed a deeply rooted resolve to provide them with the best possible opportunities -- a future like the one I built for myself from the first day I walked on to the CU campus.
What are your top 3 key initiatives/policies?
I will develop forward-looking, collaborative solutions to state funding shortfalls without shifting costs to students. While continuing to advocate for increased state funding, I will look for opportunities to expand on-line learning, deepen partnerships with 2-year colleges, protect federal research grants, promote open source textbook access, combat predatory private lending and jumbo student loans, and stand up for students and working families so that the CU system serves all Coloradans.
As a public institution, the CU system is ultimately accountable to the people of Colorado. As your next Regent, I will always advocate for transparency, good governance, and fiduciary responsibility. Coloradans deserve a world class public university system that is accessible to students throughout all four corners of the State.
In order to attract, retain and prepare our students for 21st Century careers, the CU system must lead in innovation from curriculum to faculty, cutting-edge research to apprenticeships, access to thought-leaders and technological advancements in learning. As your next Regent, I will promote forward-looking policies that keep our public institutions competitive, relevant and enriching.
Tell us about a day in the life of your campaign or tell us your favorite story from the campaign trail.
Unlike other statewide offices, the role of CU Regent is a part-time, voluntary position. That means I still support my family with a full-time day job as a lawyer. A day in the life of my campaign looks hectic, but exhilarating. I start my mornings at 4am with a work-out before my daughters wake up. After I get them to school, I focus my attention on work. I reach out to active Democrats by phone during the lunch hour and after hours, I attend events in the evenings between carpooling my kids to gymnastics and soccer, and I spend weekends jumping between personal fulfillment (time with my girls, exercising or getting outside, preferably all at once!) and talking to voters about why I’m running. I love talking to politically active voters in all parts of the state, particularly outside our metro centers. These voters are less likely to hear from candidates and I learn so much from listening to their perspectives.
What is the biggest challenge you face as a candidate? Are there challenges you face that are unique to you as a woman candidate?
There are two key challenges to this race, both of which are related to the other: (1) helping people understand what a Regent is and why they should care, and (2) getting people to donate when there are so many other races that draw more attention. These issues are not unique to women, but huge challenges nonetheless. Probably the biggest challenge to being a woman this year is trying to figure out which talented woman to support when they run against each other!
What can women do to help you?
So much! First, talk about the importance of the Regent’s race and urge people to vote all the way down the ballot. Second, volunteer for my campaign by visiting my site at www.TaylorForCU.org. Third, DONATE! I have to get my message out to voters all around the state and this takes financial resources. I can use any donations, big or small. You can donate at my website, www.TaylorForCU.org.
Share a fun fact or two with us!
I have been a certified fitness coach for over 20 years! I still coach indoor cycling, bootcamp and CrossFit. I thrive on motivating others to be the healthiest versions of themselves. I’m an avid backcountry skier and cyclist and love exploring our beautiful state.
Any additional thoughts?
I’m so inspired by the FoundHERs and members of InvestHER and look forward to working with all of you during this campaign and for years beyond.