Colorado Ballot Measures: Live Pro & Con Primers
4 & 11 October 2020 | 5:00 pm - 6:15 pm
This coming election, Coloradans have a daunting list of ballot initiatives about which to make informed decisions. The Colorado Yale Association is offering two informational Zoom sessions on consecutive Sundays devoted to six state ballot initiatives with notable pro and con advocates in a fast-paced format.
This project was inspired by a political “odd couple” friendship between Sue Damour and Joe Smith ’88, who began regular discussions about political issues, after several years of talking politics at CYA holiday parties. They have put together a line-up of experts whose pairings are sure to create a few sparks, and their mutual friend, recent senatorial candidate Andrew Romanoff ’89, will be the moderator.
Session #1, October 4th, 5:00-6:15 pm: Income Tax Reduction: Chris Hansen & Jon Caldara; TABOR: Chris Hansen & Michael Fields; Gallagher Amendment: Chris Hansen & Linda Gorman
Session #2, October 11th, 5:00-6:15 pm: Reintroduction of the gray wolf: Ted Harvey & Rick Ridder; National Popular Vote (NPV): Scott Gessler ’87 & Stu Zeiger; Paid Family/Medical Leave: Linda Gorman & Ashley Panelli
Jon Caldara is the President of the Independence Institute, Colorado’s libertarian think tank. He is well-known as the host of radio talk programs on 630 KHOW and 850 KOA as well as his current affairs television program, Devil’s Advocate with Jon Caldara, on Colorado Public Television Channel 12. Caldara started his political career in 1994 when he was elected to the Board of Directors of the Regional Transportation District, later becoming Chairman of the board. As president of the Independence Institute, he has actively worked to restrain government spending and on voter registration legislation.
A community activist, Sue Damour has had a political career working for the Obama and Clinton administrations, Congressman David Skaggs and Governor Richard Lamm. She currently volunteers for State Senator Chris Hansen. Sue has also been privileged to work for the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and The Bell Policy Center. Her husband, Tim is Yale ‘64; her daughters Lisa, Yale ‘92 and Kristin ‘93 are proud graduates as well.
Michael Fields works as the Executive Director of Colorado Rising Action. Previously he served as the State Director for Americans for Prosperity – Colorado and as a policy aide at the Colorado State House and worked as a press aide for the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Fields is a former middle school teacher, as well as a former Governing Board president at a charter school in Aurora. He appears as a political analyst for Fox31. Michael Fields was a 2014 Republican candidate for District 37 of the Colorado House of Representatives.
Scott Gessler ’87 is the former Secretary of State of Colorado. Gessler began his law career as a federal prosecutor for the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. He served as a reservist in the United States Army for sixteen years and has served overseas in locations such as Bosnia where he ran a Civil-Military Cooperation Centre. Moving to Colorado, Gessler joined Hackstaff Gessler LLC, a Denver-based private practice law firm, where he still works today. Gessler has taught election law at the University of Colorado Law School. Gessler is also a past president of CYA.
Linda Gorman is Director of the Health Care Policy Center at the Independence Institute, a libertarian think tank in Denve. With a PhD in economics, she studies and provides commentary on health care reform in Colorado and the United States. She was a member of Colorado’s Blue Ribbon Commission for Healthcare Reform and a co-author of one of the Commission’s minority reports. She was previously an economics professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.
Chris Hansen is the State Senator for Colorado Senate District 31 and was formerly the Representative for House District 6. He was selected as one of fifteen leaders from across the country to join the NewDEAL (Developing Exceptional American Leaders), a selective national network of rising state and local elected officials. Hansen serves as the Co-Founder and Director of Programming at the Colorado Energy & Water Institute and as Co-Founder of the Colorado Science and Engineering Policy Fellowship. He was author of the legislation for the repeal of Gallagher.
Ted Harvey was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives representing the 43rd House District in 2001. Elected in 2006 to the Colorado Senate, he represented Senate District 30. He began his political career as a staffer in the Reagan White House. Harvey serves as Chairman of the Committee to Defend the President, a pro-Trump super PAC. He was a Colorado delegates to the 2020 Republican National Convention.
Ashley Panelli is the Paid Leave Campaign Manager with 9to5 Colorado advocating for accessible paid family and medical leave policies across the state. She began her organizing work as the chair of the Denver DSA Socialist Feminist committee and prioritizes centering women and people of color in the fight for economic justice. Prior to working at 9to5, Ashley was a Qualified Intellectual Disabilities Professional for developmentally-disabled women with psychiatric disorders.
Rick Ridder is President and Co-Founder of RBI Strategies and Research. A former presidential campaign manager and a senior consultant for six other presidential campaigns, Rick has consulted for numerous U.S. Congressional, gubernatorial, and state and local initiative campaigns and has worked in over 23 nation, including the successful campaigns of seven heads of state. For his work in electoral reform, Rick was recognized with the “Award of Achievement” from the Gleitsman Foundation at the Harvard Kennedy School for “commitment and leadership initiating social change.”
Andrew Romanoff ‘89 is an American politician, attorney and academic. In Colorado, he worked for Congressman David Skaggs and was a senior policy advisor to Governor Roy Romer. He was a member of the Colorado House of Representatives from 2000-2008, serving as Speaker from 2005-2009. Romanoff ran for Congress in 2010, 2014, and 2020. As an academic, he has taught government at University of Colorado/Denver, Metro State and Red Rocks Community College. From 2015 to 2019, Andrew served as President and CEO of MentalHealth Colorado.
Joe Smith ’88 was a conservative student leader at Yale in the late 1980s, chairing the largest conservative party in the Yale Political Union. At law school at the University of Chicago, he was president of nation’s largest chapter of the Federalist Society. Smith has been on the board of the Independence Institute for the last 20 years and currently chairs the board of ACE Scholarships, which promotes school choice. He typically represents commercial plaintiffs. although in 2000, he was on the trial team representing George W. Bush against Al Gore.
Stu Zeiger and his wife Olga moved to Denver seven years ago from Philadelphia, where they were both active in the Democratic Party. Stu Zeiger has been a Precinct Committee Person for House District 6 and serves as an Election Judge in the Signature Verification Department. He was active in the promotion of SB 19-042 to have Colorado join the National Popular Vote Agreement. Zeiger’s career was in Information Technology: first as the Director of Product Management at ADP Financial Services and then as Vice President of IT at the National Headquarters of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
Each session will start at exactly 5:00 pm.. After introductions, each advocate will have 5 minutes to present their case followed by 7 minutes of questions for both presenters. Questions must be pre-submitted or submitted using the chat function during the event. Attendees will be on mute. The events are free but you must pre-register. Email Stephanie Grilli: email@example.com
You will receive the Zoom address before the date. Please read the ballot initiatives before each event. You can find them in the Bluebook you received in the mail or on Ballotpedia.