DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado’s General Assembly will look very different next year.
The state House is losing 15 members who are either term-limited or running for a different office.
The Colorado Senate is losing nine lawmakers.
The departures include Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran, Senate President Kevin Grantham and Gov. John Hickenlooper, all of whom are term limited.
“Every day I go into that capitol and walk up the beautiful stairs in our building and go to my office there are days that I’m just humbled,” Duran told CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd in an interview this week.
Duran is a trailblazer. She is Colorado’s first Latina Speaker of the House, and her rise to one of the most powerful positions in state government is an against-all-odds kind of story.
“My grandmother Eva, she only had a 3rd grade education. … There were times that she was embarrassed because she couldn’t read, she couldn’t write, she couldn’t drive,” Duran said. “And as a little girl I used to bring my books to her to teach her how to read.”
“I think about her all the time because she would have never imagined that her granddaughter would have the opportunity to go to college, to go to law school and become Speaker of the House.”
Duran is actually a sixth-generation Coloradan, and she has Native American, Mexican, French and Spanish ancestry. When she was a child her family briefly had to rely on food stamps.
“Only in America could a shy little girl from Northglenn and Arvada, Colorado, grow up to break glass ceilings and serve as majority leader at the Colorado House of Representatives,” she said in 2016.
Duran’s ascendancy came at a historic time in Colorado history. It was the first time in more than a century that state lawmakers expelled one of their own.
Duran came under fire for giving state Rep. Steve Lebsock, the accused lawmaker, a committee chairmanship after a colleague said he had sexually harrassed her.
“Would you have done anything differently in hindsight?” CBS4’s Shaun Boyd asked Duran.
“No, I don’t have any regrets,” Duran said. “I followed her wishes of how she wanted the matter to be resolved and then when there were additional issues that came forward I did ask Rep. Lebsock to resign.”
“He felt that was unfair. He felt it was a rush to judgement, that he didn’t have due process at that point,” Boyd said.
“I think it was the right thing to do,” she said. “The challenges, the barriers facing women in politics are real and no women should feel they have to endure inappropriate behavior to do her job.”
Duran’s job has involved forging compromises with a Republican-led Senate in areas that include transportation funding, education reform, construction defects litigation and the hospital provider fee.
Her time as Speaker will go down as among the most productive at the state capitol in decades.
“At a time when there is so much divisiveness in politics … we were able to show in Colorado that there is more that binds us together than will ever divide us,” Duran said. “It has been the honor of my life.”
Duran is officially in office until the new legislative session begins next January. She told CBS4 she plans to teach a politics class at the University of Colorado after that.