It's beautiful and sunny on the first day of May (the International day of La Resistance) — a stark change from the previous week's weather, and perfect symbolism for the ups and downs of the recent political climate. The first 100-plus days of the Trump administration have dished out an onslaught of executive orders, instilling the progressive voice with an urgency to act that gains momentum daily. The air is crisp, energy is high, and no one is more brightly optimistic than Rev. Dr. Stephany Rose Spaulding. In a historic move to represent southern Colorado in D.C., Spaulding tells the Indy that she is in the exploratory phase of a 2018 candidacy for Congressional District 5.
Yes, Doug Lamborn's current seat. And it's about time.
District 5 encompasses a vast (thanks to 2011 redistricting), very diverse populace, including El Paso, Chaffee, Park, Teller and Fremont counties. We need a voice who can represent that variety and is sensitive to the needs of the differing demographics — both the working class and marginalized.
Spaulding states: "As candidate, I desire to have a robust campaign by authentically engaging southern Coloradans of each county represented in the district. I have already begun developing some of these relationships through the Democratic and progressive groups present in the areas. CD5 is not merely El Paso County, so any candidate must spend face-to-face time in every county, listening and learning from as broad a base as possible." If she wins the election, Spaulding will be the first Democrat, first black and first woman to hold this office, a space blockaded by white Republican males since it was created in 1973.
In 2014 Democrats Irv Halter and Leslie Summey vied for the office, but were unsuccessful, Spaulding says: "Irv Halter ran a financial campaign; Leslie jumped into the primary in January, which did not provide her the time to adequately fundraise. My strategy is to have a balanced friendraising and fundraising campaign. I do not wish to be a representative out of touch with the people of CD5, but I am also not naive about the financial costs of a congressional race."
Seeing her in person, Spaulding is a well-put-together, down-to-earth woman who seems to have two sides to her personality: infectious enthusiasm and calm, cool ferocity. She is fully prepared for this landmark decision, and has statewide and national support.
Spaulding is no stranger to beating the odds as a black woman. She's a reverend in the Baptist tradition, a doctor and accomplished academic who has worked hard to obtain senior track positions. She's an accomplished author, and an associate professor of Women's and Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. But mostly she is a public servant. About Lamborn, Spaulding states: "I think the district itself has had failed representation for a while now. When I think about this seat, this office, and representing this office, I see people, segments of the population, that have been disregarded and disrespected through the words of the incumbent, saying [he] only represents those who voted for [him]. That is not how this works. The point of being a congressional representative is to represent all of the constituency, and that is what I will do."
There has been no accountability to represent a diverse population in CD5, and the constituency has to do something differently. When we have a candidate who represents diversity, and the change we have cried out for, we need to support them. If we don't, we'll continue to get more of the same.
Asked her political views, Spaulding says: "I align with the Democratic Party in regards to social and policy issues. I would say that some may view me as fiscally conservative, which in my perspective is not a 'Republican' value. I don't think anyone wants to continue with the kind of debt we are in as a nation. So, as one raised in a working-class environment, being fiscally wise is paramount to how I would function as representative."
Her message to those who want to help: Volunteer, donate, spread the word. Reimagine this space, talk about it over coffee, in your living room, discuss it with your friends, then act. Those who want to get involved during this exploratory phase can contact either Ethan Wade at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dawn Haliburton-Rudy at email@example.com.
(Disclosure: Ethan Wade is a former Independent columnist.)