Gazette Endorses Bernie Herpin

State Sen. Bernie Herpin is a new kind of legislator and the kind we need for progress. He crosses the partisan aisle without hesitation when it may result in a better outcome for the public. Herpin doesn’t embrace doctrinaire special-interest political agendas. He cares about jobs, public safety, school choice and liberty.

With enthusiasm, The Gazette endorses Herpin to continue serving Senate District 11.

Rewind a few years and The Gazette’s editorial board would not have anticipated this recommendation. Herpin had served on the Colorado Springs City Council, and we had differences. We thought his compassion for public employees, for example, went too far at times.

No longer on the council, Herpin’s fate changed in 2013 like the Colorado weather. State Senate President John Morse went off the rails, and voters initiated a recall. With the powerful Democratic senator’s continued service in question, District 11 precinct leaders chose Herpin to run as his replacement.

Herpin, a political moderate, was the perfect candidate to represent a diverse area of well-educated voters who are mostly interested in good outcomes. They didn’t want a firebrand right winger and had grown tired of a senator who would not take most phone calls, return emails or listen to the pleas of law enforcement officers who wanted stricter punishments for child molesters.

Herpin was elected into a political chamber controlled by the other party, whose members were understandably miffed about the man who would replace the highest-ranking legislator in their party. We expected almost nothing from Herpin during this year’s legislative session.

But Herpin wasn’t about to sit as a place holder. He immediately broke through the partisan divide and showed the majority his desire to work toward common goals. Most notably, he set aside any desire for a Republican version of Jessica’s Law — a bill that increases penalties for the most monstrous predators who sexually violate children — and worked to pass a Democratic version. Had he not done this, Colorado might have remained among a handful of states that have refused this law. Strict party loyalty had kept multiple Jessica’s Law proposals from reaching the governor’s desk for years.

Herpin also used his first term to do what few other politicians want to see. He pushed for more transparency in government. He co-sponsored a bill to include the public in more process leading up to highway construction. He pushed to strengthen shield laws for reporters who protect sources needed to better inform the public about matters that would otherwise remain secret.

Mostly, Herpin made himself accessible. He held regular constituent hours. He returned emails and phone calls — from people who actually live here. Best we can tell, he had no phone conversations with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who can’t resist trying to buy Colorado’s political process with part of his $34 billion fortune.

Herpin’s opponent, Michael Merrifield, recently worked for Bloomberg as state director of an anti-Second Amendment campaign. Unlike Herpin, an unabashed supporter of parental choice in education, Merrifield prefers the one-size-fits-all school monopoly of days gone by. We can’t get over his email that says: “There must be a special place in hell for these Privatizers, Charterizers and Voucherizers. They deserve it!”

Merrifield: Good man; controlling politician. Herpin: Good man; good public servant. That’s why we hope voters of District 11 repeat their wise decision to put Herpin in the Senate.


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