KUSA — Among the newest faces of the legislature are more people of color.
Colorado leaders say this election cycle breaks the record for the highest number of Latino legislators ever.
Joelle Martinez is the director of Latino Leadership Institute. She’s in the business of preparing the next generation of leaders.
“I’m really excited to have a much broader voice at the Capitol as we tackle really important complex issues for the state,” she said.
Martinez is confident in the expertise of the new class of Latino legislators. She says the biggest value they bring is the diversity of thought.
“They’re going to be able to bring their experience in education, in health care, but also a deep appreciation for what policy implications are for the community,” she said.
Here’s a list of the 2019 Latino legislators:
• Leroy Garcia (D), Senate President Elect
• Robert Rodriguez (D), business manager
• Julie Gonzales (D), Yale graduate
• Dominick Moreno (D), Georgetown graduate
• Yadira Caraveo (D), pediatrician
• Kerry Tipper (D), attorney
• Dave Williams (R), manufacturing executive
• Adrienne Benavidez (D), attorney
• Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez (D), career in human services
• Sonya Jaquez Lewis (D), community activist
• Alex Valdez (D), business man
• Monica Duran (D), grassroots activist
• Donald E. Valdez (D), farmer
Senator-elect Julie Gonzales recognizes and honors the shoulders she stands on.
“I have so much love and respect for our elders who have served in office,” Gonzales said, saying they’re the ones who paved the way for her to run for office.
She went back through records to find the largest Latino class of the Colorado legislature. Her search took her to 1991.
Gonzales counted 12 Latino legislators in both parties from 1991.
“We are not the first Latinos to serve in elected office, but this is certainly the largest group of candidates,” she said.
Right now, Latinos make up 21 percent of the population, according to U.S. Census data. The 13 Latino legislators elected right now make up 13 percent of the general assembly.
The state house does not reflect the Latino population, but at one point, it did.
In 1991, there were 12 Latino legislators and 12.9 percent of the population was Hispanic according to the Census.
More Latinos Running
Two races that are still being counted are for state representatives in Greeley and Pueblo.
Latina Rochelle Galindo is leading the race in Greeley and Bri Buentello is leading in Pueblo.
If they both win, they will add themselves to the list of Latino legislators, bringing the total number up to 15.