Tammy Story, Candidate for Colorado Senate District 16
Which office are you running for and where?
I am running for State Senate District 16, a geographically large district compared to most Front Range senate districts. SD16 includes the mountains of Jeffco from the northern boundary with Boulder, to the southern tip of Jeffco, to the western boundary. The eastern boundary of SD16 in Jefferson County generally follows C-470 from Morrison to the south and U.S. Highway 93 from Golden north towards Boulder. The district also includes a southern swath of Boulder County, including Superior, Eldorado Springs and Eldora, all of Gilpin County, and the southwest corner of Denver County (half of House District 1, near Bow Mar).
When is your election day?
Election day is November 6, 2018.
Why did you decide to run for public office? Did someone encourage or inspire you? If so, who?
The path that I took to my candidacy was a long one. I have spent the last 20 years focused on public education, especially Jeffco Schools. My efforts have included school-based and district level accountability committees, membership and leadership on a team to urge legislative support for bills that would best serve kids, campaigning for school board candidates and education ballot initiatives and more.
When I was recommended for the Emerge Colorado candidate training program I knew the experience would help me support the election of strong public education advocates and ballot initiatives designed to help public education thrive. My Emerge trainers Faith Winter and Jenny Willford both encouraged me to consider running for office, but I initially declined. I felt the work I was already doing was too important.
In my two decades of activism, I learned that the greatest challenge school districts face is the pressure to do more with less. This same pressure can also be found in efforts to address our pressing transportation needs, healthcare, senior services, protecting and preserving our precious environment and public lands, affordable housing and so much more. I came to understand that relief from much of this pressure lies underneath the Golden Dome.
All of these life experiences led me to believe that I had much to offer to the people of Colorado in the ongoing struggle to improve our quality of life now and well into the future. These experiences led me to run for state office.
What did you do before you decided to run? Where did you go to school? Tell us a little about your resume.
I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Communicative Disorders and worked as a speech pathologist for Head Start and in the public schools in southwest Virginia.
After moving to the Colorado foothills and having two children, I became a passionate advocate for public education, and especially for Jeffco Schools. For 18 years I worked in an advisory capacity for school boards and school administrators. I worked on school board campaigns and education ballot initiatives. I was the Mountain Area Coordinator for a very successful mill/bond campaign, at a time when Jeffco Schools was desperate for funding. When rogue reformers had claimed the majority on our school board, I was the Mountain Area Lead for the successful Jeffco School Board recall.
As a member of the Jeffco Associations Legislative Forum, I visited the State House countless times, and learned how to work effectively with legislators from both parties. I discovered much about how the system works on Capitol Hill.
In 2016, I ran for Colorado House District 25. Though I was unsuccessful in my effort to secure the seat, I came the closest a Democrat has ever come to winning in the very conservative district, despite running in a tough election year for Democrats. I outperformed everyone’s wildest expectations and closed the average gap between the two parties by about 14 points.
All of these life experiences have prepared me to run for office again in a highly targeted race. Winning this seat is important for Senate District 16, but also to the entirety of Colorado, as it is key to securing a Democratic majority in the state senate.
What are your top 3 key initiatives/policies?
In speaking with constituents, three issues continually come up: public education, transportation and the environment.
Public Education: I have seen the challenges firsthand that school districts face because of insufficient state funding. It is abhorrent that Colorado ranks near the bottom in per pupil funding, despite having the most robust economy in the country. Colorado spends around $2,000-$2,400 less per pupil than the national average! Coloradan students are also hurt by an ongoing teacher shortage amounting to 3,000 open positions across the state. The teacher shortage is likely influenced by the fact that Colorado ranks at the bottom for teacher pay compared to the rest of the nation. Today, 40% of Colorado’s school districts have turned to a 4-day school week as a cost saving measure. The fact that this is all true while Colorado is ranked among the wealthiest, youngest and most educated states in the nation is appalling.
Parents in Colorado need to know that their children are career and college ready upon graduation. But due to the current funding deficiencies, we are failing to deliver on this promise. Our kids deserve better!
Transportation: In order to provide for the varied transportation needs across the state, we need a flexible, sustainable funding source that provides for all Coloradans. We have a backlog of transportation needs, from fixing our existing roads and bridges, to providing safe routes to school for kids. We have an obligation to provide an infrastructure network that can move people and is flexible enough to meet the needs of our varied communities. Colorado is known for its innovation in many ways, and we have a chance to innovate on transportation funding, multimodal systems, and a network of infrastructure that works for all Coloradans.
Environment: Coloradans want to preserve and protect our public lands and open spaces. We don’t want to see public lands sold to the highest bidder. Conservation of our land and wildlife is also the protection of spaces for sport and play. We need to ensure we have clean air and water by focusing on affordable clean energy and implementation of Colorado’s Clean Water Plan. We need to expand our use of renewable energy. We need to improve and update our transit options to eliminate carbon pollution. Even in the face of growth, we must work to retain the character of our communities and maintain our Colorado way of life.-
Tell us about a day in the life of your campaign or tell us your favorite story from the campaign trail.
My most memorable stories are from talking with people at their doors. I am grateful for how friendly and receptive people have been when I stop by. Many voters are open in sharing their thoughts and feelings and want to be heard. As a candidate and future legislator, I need to understand what the district’s constituents count as their top issues.
I spoke with one senior woman who wished for expanded transportation options so she could maintain independent living in her home. Another resident was discouraged that she needed to live with her daughter’s family because of a lack of affordable housing. I’ve talked with young mothers who debated going back to work, knowing childcare was going to take most of their current paycheck. I’ve talked with teachers who hold down three jobs, just to make ends meet. These are compelling stories of people who need change so they can achieve a lifestyle that allows for independence, financial stability and the opportunity to save and invest in their future.
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 greatest challenge in any campaign is identifying the appropriate strategies and implementing them at the right time to connect with voters and earn their support. I know I am the right candidate for the job and I will work with my staff and volunteers to be certain my campaign performs well enough to secure a win on election night.
Electing more women and having more women at the table will change the way we face many challenges. As we approach the 2018 Election, I believe our country is in a place where it is more favorable for a woman to run for office and get elected than perhaps at any time in our history. I believe being a woman running for office at this time is an asset. I look forward to being part of the legislative team working to move Colorado forward.
What can women do to help you?
Women can help me by recognizing that sitting on the sidelines is not an option. If we are going to move Colorado and our country forward, we must be engaged and active to ensure we have great leaders from the White House to the State House, and in countywide and municipal offices.
There are so many ways to positively impact a campaign. If you are interested in getting involved in my campaign, you can start by visiting my campaign website and learning more about my candidacy (Story4CO.com). Once you’ve learned about my campaign, you can share information about my candidacy with your friends and neighbors. “Like” and “follow” the campaign on social media (FB: Tammy Story for Colorado, Twitter: Tammy Story @Story4co). Commit to volunteering and help us build a strong ground game by knocking doors and calling voters. And, finally, contribute financially to the campaign (ActBlue: Story for Colorado Senate) to help get messaging out to more voters and host a house party/fundraiser and invite friends and neighbors to meet me. This is the kind of help that will ensure I win in November and claim a Democratic majority in the Colorado State Senate.
Share a fun fact or two with us!
I was raised in a military family and changed schools nearly every year when I was growing up. In my younger days, I was a raft guide and a cabinetmaker too!
Any additional thoughts?
I pursue my work with relentless enthusiasm and passion. I do my homework. We have challenges in public education, preserving and protecting our natural environment and pressing transportation needs. I don’t believe everyone gets a fair shake in today’s world. I believe we need to provide opportunities to expand the pool of working class families who earn a living wage, with financial stability and the chance to save and invest in their future. I’d like to level the playing field, especially for working class families and their kids in Colorado.
As my campaign progresses and I work towards election for State Senate District 16, I will work tirelessly to earn your confidence, your trust, your support and your vote.
Whether you live in Senate District 16, or not, I urge you to join my team and help me win! Winning this seat is a key to securing the majority in the State Senate, so winning this seat matters for ALL Coloradans!