Voters in three of Colorado’s congressional districts on Tuesday chose their representatives to the University of Colorado Board of Regents.
Regent Irene Griego, D-Lakewood, will retain her seat on the nine-member board, as she won election to her first full, six-year term. She will be sworn in on a date to be determined in January, as will two new board members who won seats being vacated.
John Carson, R-Highlands Ranch, won the seat now held by Regent James Geddes, R-Sedalia.
Linda Shoemaker, D-Boulder, won the seat now held by Regent Joe Neguse, D-Broomfield.
(Note: Vote totals and percentages are according to the Secretary of State’s election website as of noon Wednesday.)
In the 7th Congressional District, Griego won with 59 percent, or 116,398 votes. Libertarian challenger Steve E. Golter had 41 percent, or 80,590 votes.
Griego came to the board in 2011 as an appointment of Gov. John Hickenlooper after the resignation of Regent Monisha Merchant. Griego then won the 2012 election that determined who would serve the remaining two years of Merchant’s term. In January, she and the two new regents will begin six-year terms.
Griego has 38 years of experience in education, from pre-K to university level, as a teacher, principal, administrator and university instructor. She earned her bachelor’s degree at CU-Boulder and doctorate at CU Denver, with a master’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado in between. She is the recipient of numerous school and community awards.
“What’s important for me is the ability to continue my support for all students in the state of Colorado and beyond,” Griego said Wednesday. “I truly believe in collaboration, and the need to be accessible and visible in our community.”
Griego said she’ll continue to emphasize the importance of collaboration across the university, and the need to support the state and nation’s diverse populations.
“We also need to ensure that attending CU is affordable for students,” she said. “We need to do whatever is possible to see that we retain our students and see that every one of them becomes a graduate of the university.”
Griego also pledged her full support to CU faculty and staff. “As regents, it’s important not only that we work together, but that we support the people who serve and support our students.”
In the 6th Congressional District, Carson won the seat with 57 percent, or 128,521 votes, defeating Democrat Naquetta Ricks, who earned 43 percent, or 98,831 votes.
Carson was president of the Douglas County Board of Education from 2009 to 2013, and served on that board beginning with his election in 2005. He earned bachelor’s and law degrees at CU-Boulder and a tax law degree from Georgetown. The Greenwood Village attorney also served in the Marines and has extensive experience working on Washington’s Capitol Hill.
“It’s exciting to be getting back involved with the university after being a 1987 law school graduate and a 1983 political science graduate,” Carson said Wednesday. “It’s exciting to be a part of the institution. I plan to support the continued great work of faculty and staff on behalf of our students, and the people of Colorado, as we continue to build a great university. It’s a critical part of our state and I look forward to being a small part of it.”
Carson said affordability was the main issue that came up while he campaigned, especially among in-state students.
“I think we really need to address the affordability issue, and make sure we’re doing the best job we can to keep tuition under control and affordable,” Carson said. “I also want to make sure we’re offering students a wide range of diversity in viewpoints and dialogue on campus. And I want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to improve the university and build on the legacy of all the work done in the past to make CU a great university.”
In the 2nd Congressional District, Shoemaker took 50 percent of the vote, or 150,456. Republican Kim McGahey had 43 percent, or 128,109 votes; Libertarian Daniel Ong received 7 percent, or 21,333 votes.
Shoemaker is a former journalist and attorney who devoted the past 20 years to advancing quality public education in the state. A CU-Boulder alumna, she was elected and served as president of the Boulder Valley School District Board of Education, was founding board chair of the Bell Policy Center, and currently serves as president of the Brett Family Foundation, which she co-founded with her husband, Steve Brett.
“I’m thrilled. It’s a dream come true for me,” Shoemaker said Wednesday of her election. “It’s a perfect place for me to serve, to try to maintain that excellent reputation that CU has despite this incredibly difficult funding environment. I’m looking forward very much to getting to know the other regents and figuring out ways we can work together to make CU better and more affordable at the same time.”
Shoemaker said she was inspired by her experience as a citizen adviser during the creation of CU-Boulder’s new College of Media, Communication and Information; she hopes CU can identify more interdisciplinary academic opportunities across the university.
“I really think the faculty and staff at CU are outstanding,” Shoemaker said. “Virtually everyone who works for the university is doing an excellent job, and my role on the board is to support the faculty and staff on the campuses to get their work done. I look forward to learning more about how I can do that.”
Shoemaker said she wants to work to boost funding for scholarships, especially at CU Denver and UCCS. Her perspective as a woman – she’ll be the third on the current board – informs her interest in issues of discrimination, harassment, sexual assault and student safety, she said.
Because the two major parties retained their seats – with new electees – the board will continue with a Republican majority (5-4).
“It’s important for all of us as CU regents to be able to work together on behalf of the university,” Griego said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or Republican; what matters is what you can do for this university. We’re going to leave politics at the door.”
Shoemaker said she has seen that philosophy at work among board members.
“I’ve observed a lot of board meetings, and I believe there’s great cross-partisan cooperation,” Shoemaker said. “It’s not nearly as contentious a place to serve in the minority as some other examples that we see nationally.”
Carson said he looks forward to working with colleagues on the board, as well as with the administration and faculty. While it’s important for the board to share a unified voice, he said, “I also think it’s important to realize we have a unique system in Colorado of elected regents, who are elected by party, and that gives the voters an important voice in the operations of the university.”