For state reps, city councils were proving grounds

Former city councilors repping North Metro districts in legislature

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Former Northglenn and Westminster city councilors are headed to the state Capitol for the upcoming legislative session.

Kyle Mullica, Shannon Bird and Jenny Willford won races, respectively, for Senate District 24 and House Districts 29 and 34. Mullica served on Northglenn’s City Council from 2013 to 2017. Willford has beenon Northglenn’s council since 2017 and will resign.

Bird served on Westminster’s city council from 2015 to 2019.

“(Being) a city council member gave me relationships with not only all of the people who make our city work, but also all community stakeholders,” Bird said.

All three are Democrats, though Bird, and also Willford, said their experiences at the city level helps them pay attention to solutions to problems and tune out “partisan bickering.” Both said they value hearing opposing sides before making final decisions.

“On city council, it doesn't matter if you're a Democrat, a Republican, unaffiliated, a constitutionalist, Green Party, Libertarian,” Willford said. “What matters is that we are making people's lives better, finding solutions to problems, and we're implementing policy.”

Bird plans to reach across the aisle in the legislature, when the session begins in January. 

“We live in a state with a diversity of opinion, diversity of ideas, and when you're willing to come together with people who might see a path forward a little bit differently and learn from them, in some cases, I think it dials down the animosity and ultimately leads to a much better solution,” she said.

Mullica was unavailable for an interview due to a stomach bug.

In the past, Bird hosted town halls with subject matter experts and residents regarding issues facing her constituents. A productive dialogue between them helped gauge a better understanding of different topics.

“Being able to engage people in those deeper conversations brings people along and helps constituents actually be part of making necessary change,” she said. “I can cast votes at the Capitol, but fundamentally, we don't make real change unless the public understands and supports what we're doing.”

Willford wants the same. 

“I don't want to just talk at people doing town halls, I want to hear what's working, what's not working, what they're excited about, what they need, what their hopes and dreams are,” she said. 

She also listed her phone number and email on her website for residents to contact her and would like residents to come to the Capital and observe the process.

On the issues

For the 2023 session, Bird’s priorities are housing, crime and education.

She said Colorado needs more housing and the state is lacking in supply. To accomplish that, she wants to fix the rules so developers can build more housing stock that’s affordable to rent or buy. 

Balancing that with available resources, like water, is important, she said.

She also wants to make education a priority investment in the state. She was glad to see the governor’s budget prioritizing K-12 public education. 

Additionally, she plans to work with the Attorney General’s Office to increase penalties for motor vehicle theft. Specifically, making it a felony to steal any car, not just cars above $2,000. 

“$2,000 or less, you're only charged with a misdemeanor and what's so problematic about that is most people have $2,000 really means there are no ability to mitigate the damage if they're a victim of theft,” she said. 

Willford said she will stay consistent with what she talked about on the campaign trail, which are lowering the cost of living, education, improving air quality and helping seniors.

Shannon Bird, Kyle Mullica, Jenny Willford, Northglenn, Thornton, Westminster, issues, Colorado Legislature

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