Donovan: Farewell, but not goodbye |

Donovan: Farewell, but not goodbye

Kerry Donovan
Valley Voices

Eight years ago, when I was elected to serve as the state senator for District 5, I never imagined the blessings and lessons that this job would bring me. I ran on the promise to bring the voices of the High Country into the halls of the Capitol and represent rural Colorado in a place that often feels like it has forgotten about us. I was inspired by my parents and grandfather, who taught me that serving your community is the highest honor, but often means serving the greater good even when it’s hard.

Kerry Donovan

Over the years, your thoughts, concerns, questions, and support have accompanied me to every meeting, negotiation, and committee that I have sat in, and I have contemplated how to best advocate for the needs of a district that holds such a diverse and often complex range of needs. From the folks who work in agriculture, to the ones who keep our ski towns alive, I have learned so much from you.

In both of my campaigns for this office, I focused my efforts on one-on-one conversations with voters, talking with thousands of you on your doorstep or over the phone. No matter the person’s background, many of you made the same request of me: Stick up for rural Colorado, take on the special interests, and don’t back down from a fight. Your support and encouragement inspired me to do just that, and I’ve made friends and built relationships on both sides of the aisle to get things done for our communities.

It has, at times, been a challenging journey. I am so proud of the work that I have accomplished with the support of my colleagues and, of course, my constituents. We’ve accomplished so much, like expanding broadband, providing economic relief to distressed rural communities, creating the Keep Colorado Wild Pass, funding rural school districts, and advocating for Western State University, CMC, and Technical College of the Rockies. We’ve built a better future by investing in new ranchers and farmers and establishing telehealth. I’ve carried bills to tackle climate change, protect wildlife and address drought. Numerous times your support resulted in policy that was the first-of-its-kind in the nation, like ensuring the voices of our Tribes are heard and recognized in the Capitol.

I’ve carried my bills that will have multi-generational positive impacts on the lives of all Coloradans. One is the first-in-the-nation public option for health insurance. This groundbreaking legislation will cut the cost of health insurance and increase choice in the marketplace, piggybacking on our success cutting health insurance rates in the high country by nearly 30% using a mechanism called reinsurance. Another is the creation of a portable benefits plan for workers whose employers don’t offer a retirement package, helping people save money for retirement and plan for their future — a meaningful policy change in a state made up of service workers, seasonal employees and agricultural workers. Another bill more simply established our state’s Public Lands Day, a key element of bringing the Outdoor Retailer show and its $45 million annual economic impact to Colorado while also loudly declaring our support for the wild spaces that define our character.

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I have proudly served in leadership roles, serving two years as majority whip before stepping into my current role as president pro tempore and sitting as the chair of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. As one of the few women to have held a leadership position in the long history of the Colorado Senate, I have remained committed to making sure women across the state have a seat at the table. This has meant years of standing up for equal pay and access to reproductive health care. The women I work with every day serve as a daily reminder of how important it is that we continue to show up for all of Colorado’s women and push past the final glass ceilings in Colorado — governor and senator.

Time and time again, it’s been a privilege to stand up to the special interests and reject politics as usual to get big things done that protect our special Colorado way of life and make living out here just a little bit easier. As I plan my next steps, and return to life as a rancher and everyday resident of Eagle County, I will never forget the countless lessons that I have learned from each of my constituents. My work doesn’t end here. As my parents and grandparents did before me, I will continue to find new ways to serve my community and uplift the voices of rural Coloradans. Thank you for your trust and support on this remarkable journey.

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