Our Chat with Speaker Crisanta Duran gave us just the energy we need to get through the midterms. She shares how she overcomes the challenge of being a double minority in politics and gets her voice heard. Below you’ll find a few Chat highlights. Hope to see you at our next event.
A bit of background information:
Crisanta Duran decided to run for state house at age 29 based on frustration and anger that elected officials didn’t have the right priorities and many issues were not coming forward in a meaningful way.
“When I think about how I ended up as Speaker of the House, one of the things was being willing to take a risk. Put myself out there and ask for support. The first position I ran for was majority leader and it was a very competitive race against colleagues. As it relates to being able to take a risk and build relationships with those around me, that’s what helped me win… Make sure we’re delivering results to the people of Colorado and focused on problem solving. We check our egos at the door and put people first.”
What have you gleaned in your professional life as a woman? What would you say about the challenge of being a double minority and getting your voice heard?
It has been the honor of my life to be the first Latina speaker in Colorado, and also in the country. You’ve been working on Climate Change in Colorado. Educating women will help. Anything to say on that topic?
What is inspiring to me is seeing so many women getting involved in the political process. Helping each other, running for office, being passionate about issues like climate change… It’s inspiring to see the momentum and I hope we keep moving in that direction. When I think about this issue and so many others, women’s leadership will lead us in the right direction. The more we can support women in positions of power, it’s important not because it’s politically correct but because I believe we get better results. Having women in those positions in power and at the table means there are issues that come forward that wouldn’t see the light of day otherwise.
As a woman in politics, what strategies have you used to get your voice heard. What strategies do you want to use in the future?
I can’t stress enough how important I think it is for people to get involved in the process, how to get involved and how to engage. The more we have opportunities to get off Facebook, Twitter and other social – have real life conversations and not just watch the heads on your nightly news – and have person in person interactions and conversations it’s such a key part of building communities in a positive way.
As for next steps – I’m trying to figure out where I can be most effective. Taking the time to figure out what that could be. It’s been wonderful to serve in this role and we’ve gotten a lot accomplished, but at the same time I think about where can I use the skills to continue that. There’s a lot you can get done in the spotlight, but there’s also a lot you can get done behind the scenes and I think that’s where I’ll be most effective.
What piece of legislation in CO politics do you think is most critical?
For me, the most important thing we can see in this election is to ensure people who are problem solvers get elected and work beyond partisanship to get things done. Partnerships and collaboration make all the difference.
How hard do you feel it is to be politically correct as a politician in your life?
The only way I think we can accomplish it is by leading by example and making sure we have people in elected office who work to not demonize each other. It makes it so difficult to problem solve. Small groups like this matter a lot. Even just to talk about life. The way those connections are built is through a sense of understanding and empathy, and being vulnerable enough to have those conversations that build connections. A lot of the hatred was covert over the years, not as overt as it is now. The silver lining is if we can chart a new path to address these issues head on.
How have you built bridges?
Relationships really matter. There are a whole lot of things I disagree with my Republican counterpart on, but we have breakfast every other week to build a relationship. Being able to build that relationship meant there was an understanding of trust and integrity was very helpful. I truly believe who is in power matters a lot and if there’s a willingness to build bridges. For some people it’s harder than others.