Editor’s note, 5/7/20: Lorena Garcia failed to collect enough petition signatures to make it onto the primary ballot. 

Resume: Activist and community organizer; currently serves as executive director at the Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition; previously worked for NAMLO International, Colorado Youth Matter, and Wyofile, among other nonprofits

Party: Democrat

Give me your 30-second elevator pitch: Why are you running?
Lorena Garcia: I’m running for Senate because I think the nation and Colorado are calling for a dramatic shift in our leadership. And that means who we send to office, what their background is, what they want to accomplish. I think I’m that change. 

What sets you apart from the other Democratic Party candidates?
I’ve dedicated my entire career—and even before I entered professional life—to working with and working in communities. I’ve worked with directly affected communities in developing policy and solutions to the issues they face that have actually become law. The fact that I can do this and be successful in it, without being a legislator, sets me apart. 

What is your top policy priority?
My top policies are rooted in economic justice. That means everything from health care to education, focusing on campaign-finance reform, focusing on a Green New Deal, where we see transition from the fossil fuel workforce, while we create thousands and thousands of amazing, safe jobs. When we work on these issues as a systemic whole, we can create a more equitable and just society. When we can achieve economic justice, everyone has the opportunity to succeed, and the chance to be able to pay for what they need to, pay their bills, and still maybe go to the movies. 

How would you ensure Colorado’s interests are met in Washington, D.C.?
When you are of the community, when you are from the community, you have a deep commitment to the community. I’m a seventh-generation Coloradan, and so my heart is Colorado. All the work I’ve done in the nonprofits I run is about specifically making sure that we’re able to build consensus among coalitions across the state, with diverse opinions and perspectives so that we can make sure that what we bring forward as a policy solution really, truly reflects Colorado. That type of work I’ve done is exactly how I intend to make sure that Colorado’s needs are represented in the Senate. On top of that, have town halls. Be in the community; be accessible. If you’re doing what you commit to, there should be no reason you should be afraid to have a town hall. 

How would you work with an increasingly divided Senate?
When we’re asked that question, we assume that, across the country, the Senate is going to still be the same, except for Colorado’s senator. And that’s not true. We have progressive candidates running across the country. If we can all get behind these candidates, we can all get behind my candidacy, we can actually see dramatic change. We are going to see a difference in representation in race and gender and background and experience. And then we can bring back the premise of what the Senate is for, which is that we are working to create a society that works for everyone.

On top of that, we need to get away from party politics. We need to start making people [and solutions] the center. When we start talking about people-centered policy instead of party-centered policy, we can start to bridge the divide that exists. 

What is something voters might not know about you?
I think a lot of voters don’t know that although I haven’t served in office, I have been directly responsible for a lot of laws that are in place today. I have written bills and pushed policies that affect Colorado families. For example, I was the architect of the 2010 ban of the practice of shackling pregnant and laboring inmates. I was the architect of the 2013, first comprehensive sex ed law that Colorado saw. I helped lead the coalition that made it possible for parents to take time off work to attend school-related activities. And that’s just some of the things that I’ve done. Imagine what I can get done in office.

Now for the lightning round….Pick one: 

Broncos or Rockies?

I-25 or I-70?

National Western Stock Show or a show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre?
Red Rocks

Coors Banquet beer or a Colorado craft brew?
Colorado craft brew 

Hike a fourteener or raft the Arkansas River?
Raft the Arkansas 

Fall foliage or wildflower season?
Fall foliage

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve or Rocky Mountain National Park?
Sand Dunes 

Wyoming or Utah?

Editor’s note: Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Erin Skarda
Erin Skarda
Erin is a Denver-based writer and the former digital editor for 5280.