I was born in Detroit in 1950. My father, a lawyer, was a veteran of World War II and my mother was a gym teacher. I went to the University of Michigan from 1967-71, and studied Economics and Political Science.
Being Jewish and born only five years after the Second World War, I grew up with a profound interest in the holocaust. U.S. intervention in Vietnam fundamentally shaped my world view. These events led me to believe that history does not automatically turn out well and that if one has an interest in public policy one needed to take personal responsibility and action.
I moved to Colorado after I graduated from Boston University with a law degree in 1975.
My first job was as a Colorado Public Defender. My clients were low-income residents of our state, and many were minorities. I treated everyone I came into contact with respect and fairness.
After I left the Public Defender's office, I had my own law practice for 14 years. I continued to do trial work and volunteered my time doing pro bono work. In 1988, Westword magazine gave me their "Pro Bono Attorney of the Year" Award.
In 1992, I was elected to the House of Representatives. I ran for office because I wanted to help protect the environment. I knew that Colorado had a history of resource extraction-mining, oil and gas, and now real estate development-and I was concerned that if legislative campaigns were financed in large part by contributions from these special interests, it would be difficult to protect Colorado's awesome beauty.
For this reason, I made campaign finance reform a major part of my campaign. I was the only candidate that year-in either party-who did not take campaign contributions from the political action committees (PACs) of special interest groups. I have never taken a PAC contribution since then, and I will not take any in this campaign.
In the legislature, I have been in one leadership job or another for most of my 14 years, including the Minority Leader in the House, Senate Judiciary Chair, and my current job of Senate Majority Leader.
I am most proud of the work I did as part of the bi-partisan team that proposed Referendum C. This measure was necessary to preserve higher education and also provided resources for primary education, the health care safety net and transportation. Democratic legislative leadership worked with moderate Republicans and Governor Owens to pass Ref C, and I organized a walk from the Wyoming to the New Mexico border, down the front range, to draw attention to the need for its passage. Referendum C is a model for accomplishing a task by working with both Republicans and Democrats. It shows us that accomplishments come from bipartisan cooperation.
I have been blessed with two great children. Windy is a teacher in Denver Public Schools and gave birth to a daughter (my granddaughter), Aubrielle, on August 4th. My son Ben just graduated from New York University. My girlfriend, Betty Lehman, is the executive director of the Autism Society of Colorado. My former wife and the mother of my children, Helen Shreves, mediates family law issues.
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