Every person running for office will tell you that they grew up middle class, whether they’re Paul Ryan or Nancy Pelosi, whether they grew up with a trust fund and buildings at college campuses named after their family or they were actually in a modest 2-story house with parents who worked 9-to-5 jobs. I, however, did not. I grew up somewhere between working class and poor, depending on the time. My parents are the heroes of my upbringing. My dad worked 80-hour weeks in factories, starting out as a line worker before he was able to put his mechanical genius to work as a maintenance man and move up through skill and incredibly hard work. He still worked 80 hour weeks (still does) but got paid a little better. My mom worked retail jobs that never paid her what she was worth, and it seems like every day she would come home with another story about a shoplifter or a horrible customer, but she was always there for us. There were layoffs that would land us on welfare and food stamps. There were lean times where jobs were harder to come by, especially in the 90’s when manufacturing took a big hit. My parents went without for more birthdays and Christmases than they’ll ever tell me so that their kids could have a good life. One of the Army values is “Selfless Service”; my parents are the absolute embodiment of that. They are heroes to me and my brothers. They taught us to respect everyone on the content of their character and that’s been our guiding light for our entire lives. That and a love of dogs.
I went on to college through a ROTC scholarship where I met Mary Katherine, and she’s been my best friend and partner ever since. She’s stuck with me through deployments and hard times, through wars and grad schools (both of us) and this campaign. She’s tough. Really tough. And I love her with all my heart.
I deployed to Iraq in 2007 as a Cavalry Scout during the Surge and got blown up by a rocket (technically two rockets but the first one didn’t do much). It gave me serious back, hip and knee problems but I continued to serve for another 9 years until repeated airborne jumps and ruck marches finally led a doctor to pronounce that I was one bad jump away from being in a wheelchair. That led to my medical retirement. In that time I also led tactical PSYOP Detachments, including in Afghanistan with Marine Special Operations Command. One of my last jobs was to establish the Headquarters Company for 1st Special Forces Command, which involved bringing together a massive number of Special Operations Soldiers from various branches conducting operations on 5 different continents.
When I retired from the Army I moved back to Colorado and settled here in Denver. We got involved in local movements and causes and made it to rallies and marches and neighborhood meetings. Mary Katherine got a job with Girl Scouts of Colorado working with underprivileged girls. I enrolled in grad school at University of Denver using the GI Bill to get my Masters in Public Policy. I also worked in the Capitol during the 2017 session and saw the Legislature in all its dysfunctional glory.
I don’t have a specific moment that prompted me to run for office. Instead it’s a conglomeration of various reasons and moments and facts that when taken together made it necessary for me to stand up and put myself out there. I’m tired of politicians who just speak in platitudes and condescend to the voters but don’t actually stand for anything. I’m tired of seeing bills with 90% public approval being shot down because lobbying groups are paying legislators to kill the bills. I’m tired of our government not representing the people and politicians being unwilling to align themselves with what they believe in because they’re looking out for future careers instead of the needs of their constituents. That last one is a big one for me. This is the election I care about. I’m not trying to become a U.S. Congressman down the road, or mayor or governor or Secretary of State. I am running for Colorado House of Representatives for District 5. I’m interested in doing what’s best for my people, not in trying to hedge my bets on what may be better for my future political aspirations.
So that’s who I am, that’s where I come from. I don’t have a distinguished pedigree of politicos, I don’t have a big name or a recognizable dynasty. I’m a regular Coloradan who lives in a working class neighborhood who loves his city and his state. I grew up with a working family and I know the struggles of our low income Coloradans. I’ll work to make life better for those at the lower end of the economic spectrum and safeguard the gains we’ve made for the middle class, because that’s where we all want to be. Thanks for getting to know me. Hopefully I can get to know you.