Rochelle Galindo, Tim Hernández and Cecelia Espenoza speak at a candidate forum ahead of a vacancy meeting to appoint a new representative to House District 4. (Sara Wilson/Colorado Newsline)
Teacher and activist Tim Hernández will represent Colorado’s House District 4 during the 2024 lawmaking term, a committee of district Democrats decided Saturday.
Hernández, 26, is replacing former Democratic state Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez. The seat became vacant when Gonzales-Gutierrez was elected to an at-large seat on Denver’s city council earlier this year.
He grew up on Denver’s north side, something he repeatedly referred to during Saturday’s candidate forum and vacancy committee vote.
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“We need not just somebody from this neighborhood who knows this place, who knows our history, who knows our issues, but more importantly somebody who is going to fight for them — who can win on our issues, who can build collaborative tables, who can work and pass legislation that improves the lives of students and families and workers and women and black folks and brown folks and people of color an indigenous people,” he said.
Hernández received 39 votes, just over 57% of the 68 total votes cast. He needed a simple majority to win.
Three candidates were vying for the seat: Hernández, retired appellate judge Cecilia Espenoza and former state Rep. Rochelle Galindo. All three are Latino. Espenoza received 27 votes and Galindo received two votes.
A vacancy committee convenes to select a new representative or senator when a lawmaker vacates their office. The committee is made up of members of the former lawmaker’s political party in the district. In this case, the committee was made up of Democrats who live in House District 4.
State Sen. Julie Gonzales nominated Hernández for the seat.
“I believe in intergenerational leadership. I believe that we should be working to ensure that we have folks who are working alongside a breadth and depth of community. I believe that we should have more renters representing us in the Colorado Legislature. I believe that Tim has demonstrated his willingness to ensure that we all live up to our democratic values,” Gonzales said.
Hernández spoke during the candidate forum about his policy priorities of reducing gun violence, increasing housing density and including more young people in the political process.
House District 4 includes parts of west and northwest Denver, bordered by Sheridan Boulevard to the west, Interstate 25 to the east, Interstate 70 to the north and Ohio Avenue to the south. The district strongly favors Democrats, with Gonzales-Gutierrez winning reelection last year with over 82% of the vote.
Hernández will serve the last year of Gonzales-Gutierrez’s term and will need to run for the seat in 2024 if he wants to continue to serve. He will be among the youngest state legislators.
“It’s going to take all of us after we get done with this process,” he said. “I’m really excited about diving in, hearing from folks that are impacted in ways I don’t understand and making sure we can build a better HD4.”
He joins two dozen current lawmakers who were appointed by a vacancy committee, according to an analysis from the Colorado Sun. That includes a handful appointed after the most recent election in 2022, including Democratic Rep. Kyle Brown, Republican Rep. Ron Weinberg and Democratic Rep. Lorena Garcia.
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