This Women’s History Month, I’ve taken some time to reflect on the women I’ve known, admired, and aspire to be. I’ve been thinking a lot about the road that was paved for me by prior …
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This Women’s History Month, I’ve taken some time to reflect on the women I’ve known, admired, and aspire to be. I’ve been thinking a lot about the road that was paved for me by prior generations of women and what I can do to make that road smoother for the women who will follow me.
I grew up knowing that I could be anything that I wanted to be because of the women who came before me. Women who challenged norms, women who broke barriers, women who spoke truth to power and who kept speaking long after they’d been told to shut up and sit down — these women inspired me. Because of them I knew that I could start my own law firm, I knew that I could run for office and win, and I knew that I could do all of this while maintaining what’s most important to me — my family. Now, little girls like my cousins get to see the first woman Vice President of the United States serving her country, and hopefully, soon they’ll see the first woman President of the United States too.
Here in Colorado, the House Democratic caucus is made up of 68% women, and I couldn’t be prouder to serve alongside every one of them. Every day they come to work under the gold dome with the goal of making Colorado a better place for everyone. Issues like job creation, small business support, education funding, and balancing the state budget are just some of the things that these women work on daily.
I didn’t always want to be a legislator. Growing up, I wanted to be a soccer player. Around fourth grade, I decided I also wanted to be a lawyer. I didn’t know what lawyers did, but I remember watching an episode of Law and Order and being excited at the prospect of a career where you could argue for a living.
My dreams came true. I went to college on a soccer scholarship and because of that scholarship I was able to get my first job in politics with former Congressman Bruce Braley soon after. That initial experience catapulted me to former Senator Tom Harkin’s office, and eventually, to the White House where I worked under the Obama Administration’s Domestic Policy Council.
As a lawyer who started my own law firm right after law school, I learned quickly that I needed to be “politely persistent” to get ahead. I couldn’t stop people from calling me ‘honey’ or ‘sweetie,’ and I couldn’t stop people from discounting my talent because of my appearance. But what I could do was advocate on behalf of my clients to the best of my ability, and to me that meant never stopping until I got what I needed to represent my clients. I encountered plenty of resistance, but I knew that if I held my ground I could do good, even if it made some people uncomfortable.
Throughout my years of practice in family law, I saw hundreds of families who needed not just the help of a tenacious attorney, but the help of the state. I knew that I could do more for the families I worked with on a daily basis, which is why I decided to run for office.
Thankfully, there was already a strong precedent of women running for office, and winning, in Jefferson County. My own seat was held by former Representative Tracy Kraft-Tharp who, in her eight years at the General Assembly, passed bipartisan legislation that helped thousands of Coloradans not just in House District 29 but across the state. When I decided to run for office, I wanted to carry on my predecessor’s tradition of working across the aisle. I knew that I wanted to be an effective advocate for my constituents just like I am for my clients.
I talked to many of my constituents while I was campaigning. I listened to what they had to say, and I can say with certainty that – by and large – we all want the same things. We want to build a stronger Colorado. We want a thriving economy. We want well-funded schools, and we want access to affordable healthcare. We have critical work to do, but we are too often gridlocked in party politics; gridlock has become the status quo. We cannot let old habits and conventions stop us from achieving the goals we all agree on, and I am committed to doing what it takes to make progress.
This Women’s History Month I want to recognize the thousands of women who made history before me. As a woman, to achieve is to transgress, and these women’s transgressions gave me the confidence to pursue my goals. I grew up seeing myself in professional soccer players; I grew up seeing myself on TV; I grew up seeing myself on the international political stage. We take it for granted that jobs that were once unheard of for women are now perfectly plausible career choices, and we have many politely persistent women to thank for that. I hope that I and my female colleagues at the Capitol can continue that tradition of challenging conventional wisdom and making this state better for everyone. As Shakespeare once wrote, “nice customs curtsy to great kings” – or was it “great queens”?
Democrat Lindsey Daugherty is the elected representative for Colorado House District 29 representing Arvada and Westminster.
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