Lately, I’ve found myself vacillating between abject hopelessness and tempered optimism when it comes to politics. There’s no need to enumerate the reasons for the former here; as for the latter, just a few weeks ago I was buoyed by the swearing in of the U.S. House of Representatives, which is far more female and far more diverse than it has ever been. One day later, Colorado’s legislative session began with an even more heterogeneous set of lawmakers, including more women, Latino, and LGBT representatives than ever before. These historic legislatures signal that something unusual and potentially exceptional is stirring in the political sphere—the notion that voices which have long been underrepresented in positions of power are finally being heard. State Representative Leslie Herod isn’t new to the Capitol, but the Park Hill resident is emblematic of the change that’s come to the Colorado General Assembly—and to the U.S. Congress. Herod, who is black and gay, first ran for office in 2015. But, she told 5280 articles editor Natasha Gardner, “I wasn’t going to be elected despite my sexual orientation. I was going to be elected. Full stop.” As Gardner details in “State Representative Leslie Herod Has A Story To Share,” the rising Democratic star has championed progressive issues, but she’s also worked to draft bipartisan legislation—some of which has been signed into law. (It can be done!) Gardner’s insightful portrait of an elected official who isn’t afraid to talk about her family’s struggles, who oozes authenticity, and who doesn’t see “compromise” as a bad word provides a much-needed dose of hope when it’s exceedingly easy to be pessimistic about politics.