Monica Duran, Candidate for Colorado House District 24

 
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Which office are you running for and where?
I am running for House District 24, which encompasses Wheat Ridge, Edgewater, Golden, Mountview, Fairmount, Lakeside, and a tiny portion of Arvada.

When is your election day?
Tuesday November 6th, 2018

Why did you decide to run for public office? Did someone encourage or inspire you? If so, who?
I have been encouraged and inspired by many strong women my entire life. Starting with my grandmother and mother. As a proud daughter and granddaughter of migrant workers, I watched my family march alongside Cesar Chavez and Delores Huerta, fighting for fair wages, better working conditions and the right to unionize. And as a domestic violence survivor and once homeless single mom, I pulled from the lessons and examples I had learned as a child to help me through those difficult times.

 In 2015, I helped lead a campaign for Wheat Ridge Issue 300, a grassroots uprising of citizens pushing back against out-of-control development that was threatening our community’s quality of life. We stop Wal-Mart and won. I currently serve on the Wheat Ridge City Council, and previously served as a Director of the Wheat Ridge Fire Protection Board. My community experience also includes serving as a board member for the Jefferson Center for Mental Health, the Wheat Ridge Planning Commission, the West Metro Veterans Resource Network, Heading Home, an organization dedicated to ending homelessness. I am also a member of the Jefferson County Democratic Latino Initiative and an Emerge 2013 Alumnae, an organization that trains and inspires women to run for office. 

My decision to run for HD24 started for so many reasons.  My family and community encouraged me to follow my dream.  In particular, one person lifted me as she lead, that person is Rep Jessie Danielson. I will forever be grateful for her support.  She encouraged me every step of the way, and that helped me face the challenges of running for HD 24.

What did you do before you decided to run? Where did you go to school? Tell us a little about your resume.
Before I ran for office I was a busy mom raising my sons. I am a dental assistant by trade, but with hard work and the ability to lead, I managed a downtown dental practice for 25yrs. through that experience I learned once again about the importance of collaboration, teamwork, and bringing out the best in everyone. You lift as you lead.

What are your top 3 key initiatives/policies?

First: Protecting Jeffco's neighborhood public schools is one of my top priorities. My kids grew up going to Jeffco public schools. Those schools created opportunities for my sons. I will fight the Betsy DeVos agenda of privatizing our education system, and I will fight for better teacher pay.

 Our schools need better support to prepare kids for the 21st century economy. For a lot of kids, college is the right path. But kids who aren't going to college deserve the same support and attention. I will expand vocational and technical training programs so that every student is on the right path to a good-paying job. 

 Second: Trump and Washington Republicans are trashing our health care system and saddling us with double-digit premium hikes. My plan is to let any Coloradan purchase health insurance through the state's Medicaid program if it's a cheaper public option for them.

 I have been endorsed by pro-choice organizations because I will be a champion for the rights of women. We need leaders who are willing to stand up and fight Republican efforts to restrict abortion and outlaw emergency contraception. 

 Third: You never feel more alone then when you are alone with an abuser. I know that firsthand. Holding abusers accountable and getting justice for victims is critical. But I’m going to do more, by leading the way in the legislature to create pathways for victims to escape abusive relationships and providing the tools needed to become financially independent.

Tell us about a day in the life of your campaign or tell us your favorite story from the campaign trail.
My day starts at 7am and can go to midnight. I have continued to work in Arvada (dental practice) and meet my weekly city council responsibilities. So the last year and half has been filled with many challenges. Sticky notes and my Google calendar are my best friend. As challenging as its been, I couldn’t have done any of this with out the support, love, and understanding of my husband and family.

What is the biggest challenge you face as a candidate? Are there challenges you face that are unique to you as a woman candidate?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced is overcoming stereotypes before the campaign started. They have ranged from a perception that a Latina couldn’t win this seat or some have criticized that I was a domestic abuse survivor and a once homeless single mother.

 I’m proud to have been the first Latina to win a primary for this seat. The community embraced my candidacy and welcomed me with open arms. Domestic abuse is a major problem not just in this district, but across Colorado. I will always fight for the abused.

What can women do to help you?
Women are natural collaborators. Working together there is nothing we can not accomplish. I am surrounded by talented, strong, amazing women running for office. So many of them have been there to inspire me, support me, make me laugh when I took myself too seriously, and most importantly, creating a network I can count on.

Share a fun fact or two with us!
I actually was a very shy child. My dad was in the military and we moved every couple years. Every move resulted in a new town, new school, and having to make new friends. That experience forced me out of my shell and the rest is history. I am also a huge Elvis Presley fan and have quite a collection of memorabilia.

And I still dream of having my own band and being a rock star someday!

Any additional thoughts?
Thank you for this opportunity to share my story, and to be part of the InvestHER family.