There is a Mexican saying: “Dime con quién andas y te dire quien eres.” This translates to, “Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are.”
At Voces Unidas Action Fund, we proudly endorse candidates who align with our values and policy goals. Before we endorse, we do our homework. We test candidates -- in meetings, in interviews, and via our candidate questionnaires. Any candidate we’ve endorsed has gone through our process and answered questions about local, state and even federal issues like reproductive justice, immigration reform, and affordable housing. Drawing wisdom from that Mexican saying, we seek to learn whom candidates count as “friends,” such as those who have endorsed them or donated to their campaign.
We engage in this thorough process because we need champions that will help us address the needs of our communities once elected. For example, we supported successful efforts in the Legislature this year to strengthen protections for mobile-home park residents via House Bill 1287. Despite the bill’s passage, rent stabilization, a key lever to address the 80% increase in annual lot rent, was stripped from the bill before it became law. This was devastating to the residents of more than 79 mobile-home park communities in our region, the overwhelming majority of whom are Latino.
HB1287 was supported by Democratic Sen. Kerry Donovan and Reps. Dylan Roberts, and Julie McCluskie. It was opposed by Republican Sen. Bob Rankin and Rep. Perry Will.
As a local, community-created 501(c)(4) advocacy nonprofit organization, we invest our time, energy and resources to support our endorsed candidates. We volunteer, knock on doors, make phone calls, and raise money from local community members. We do this because we believe that when our neighbors and communities come together to support leaders who share our values, we can affect the change we need. This is what we are. We are a local organization participating in our local and regional civic life and our democratic systems. We live here, so we engage here.
So we found it interesting that these three Denver-based organizations — the Colorado Chamber, the Colorado Association of Home Builders, and the Apartment Association of Metro Denver — are deploying their money and endorsements in the Democratic primary for House District 57 in rural Colorado.
This is similar to what’s taking place in a Democratic primary for House District 6 in Denver, as recently reported by 9News. That story reported that the Colorado Chamber “generally supports Republican candidates” and that the associations might "not normally be interested in Democratic politics."
So, why are these Denver-based organizations spending money in a Democratic primary on the Western Slope? What could they possibly want?
Perhaps they want property-owners — particularly of mobile-home parks — to be able to continue their unchecked and astronomical rent increases? Perhaps they want to fend off or minimize efforts to provide more affordable housing so they can build more luxury apartments and vacation homes?
While we may never know for sure, we do know this: They are not from here. We are. They haven’t spoken to residents of the Appletree and King's Crown mobile-home parks, which saw 40- to 80-percent lot-rent increases during the pandemic while the corporate owners made millions in profits.
These trade associations, their affiliates, and the out-of-state corporations who run many of the mobile-home parks in the region have little regard for our working families, and put one thing above all else -- profits.
The Apartment Association of Metro Denver is a regional chapter of the CO Apartment Association (CAA). The CAA opposed rent stabilization and HB1287 until that provision was removed. The Colorado Chamber also officially opposed HB1287, a position they maintained even after lot rent stabilization was removed.
Obviously, rent stabilization is not the only issue these groups care about -- but it should serve as caution to voters.
When you look at organizations who’ve endorsed a candidate, ask yourself where they’re from and whether they are looking out for your interests, or their own?
And when we choose to associate ourselves with a candidate, you bet that the person is going to be aligned with our values.
Click here to see our list of endorsed candidates.