A very pleasant surprise

By Tom Turner


I pay pretty close attention to politics for a couple of reasons: first of all, democracy requires an informed electorate, and I personally see it as a civic responsibility; and secondly, in my position at Community Options, it is extremely important that I develop and maintain positive relationships with local and statewide elected officials who have a direct impact on our funding and our statutory and regulatory environment. As much as I try to pay attention however, every so often I get a big surprise, and that happened recently.

Community Options is a member of Alliance, an organization of community centered boards and service provider agencies, and every year that organization holds a large conference attended by about 300 people. That conference was held June 12-14 in Breckenridge, and I was privileged to attend. During an awards luncheon at the conference, Alliance awarded our Legislator of the Year to Senator Rachel Zenzinger, who played a major role in our system being allocated resources to bring 550 people off of the waiting list into services this coming year. I knew that she serves as the State Senator from Arvada and is a member of the powerful Joint Budget Committee, but I had never met her and didn’t know much else about her.

In Senator Zenzinger’s acceptance speech (which was terrific by the way), she thanked her mother for coming all the way from Montrose for the luncheon, which obviously peaked my interest. She introduced her mom as “AJ”, and I quickly recognized her as AJ Smith, who my wife and I know from musical connections with her husband Norman, and many of you probably know from her many years of teaching school.

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