Senate District 29: Longtime lawmaker Fields faces GOP newcomer Chunn

Both candidates are looking to take over the seat held by Democrat Morgan Carroll, who is term-limited and running for Congress. The diverse district holds a a large minority population that already leans Democratic.

sd29

State Democratic Rep. Rhonda Fields will face off against newcomer Republican Sebastian Chunn for Aurora’s Senate District 29 seat. Both candidates are looking to take over the seat held by Democrat Morgan Carroll, who is term-limited and running for Congress. The district holds a a large minority population that already leans Democratic.The district is 32 percent Hispanic, 18 percent black and 5 percent Asian.  It runs roughly from East Colfax Avenue south to East Mississippi Avenue, and the Denver/Aurora border east to the border between Arapahoe County and Elbert County.

Incumbent Fields to battle newcomer Chunn for SD29 seat

By RACHEL SAPIN, Staff writer

State Democratic Rep. Rhonda Fields will face off against newcomer Republican Sebastian Chunn for Aurora’s Senate District 29 seat. Both candidates are looking to take over the seat held by Morgan Carroll, who is term-limited and running for Congress.

Rhonda Fields
Rhonda Fields

Fields said she would like to raise gas taxes to provide more financial support for Colorado road improvements and maintenance.

“Gas taxes have remained flat since 1993, which is the main funding source for our roads,” she said.

Fields was the first African-American woman elected to serve House District 42 in 2010. She became active in state politics after becoming involved in victims rights and criminal justice issues after her son, Javad Marshall-Fields, and his fiancée, Vivian Wolfe, were gunned down in 2005 just days before Marshall-Fields could testify in another shooting.

Fields said her greatest accomplishment this legislative session was passing a bill that will grant more time for justice to be served in sexual assault cases.

Last year she also sponsored a bill that was signed into law criminalizing cyber bullying.

Fields is a supporter of the state’s gun safety measures and has been an important part of controversial gun-control legislation passed in 2013 after the Aurora theater shooting and Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

She said fracking as it relates to local control should remain under the state’s purview.

“The current law provides flexibility for communities to lend voice to existing regulation,” she said.

Fields said she would like to see a change to Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR, which says the state government can’t spend tax money collected under existing tax rates if revenues grow faster than inflation and population.

“While some states operate with some tax or spending limits, TABOR is the most restrictive limitation in the nation and has impaired the state’s ability to address priorities and respond to crises,” Fields said. “Therefore, I would support proposed legislation to re-write the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, allowing voters the right to vote on tax increases and lessening state budget restrictions.”

Sebastian Chunn
Sebastian Chunn

Chunn said he supports TABOR and that the state government already spends too much. 

“We need to be able to manage our finances much better and start cutting taxes,” he said. 

Fields said she also believes the state should look at legislation that would allow unaffiliated Colorado voters to participate in a presidential primary. Colorado currently uses a party-run caucus system to select candidates for the general election.

Chunn said the state’s caucus system should stay the same.

Fields said to increase student performance in the state, lawmakers should look at the way schools are funded.

“Our current model of funding is tied to property and local tax wealth,” she said.  “I would advocate that we as lawmakers adopt a more equitable model such as student based funding, that incentivizes innovation, boosts student achievement, and fulfills the promise of equal opportunity.”

Chunn said he would also like to see the state’s fuel tax put towards improving and expanding the state’s roads. 

“The state charges us an extra 22 cents per gallon of fuel. We need to make sure that this taxed money gets to the roads,” he said. “We also need to start making sure that we aren’t giving friends favors. Our government needs to be unbiased when it comes to handing out contracts on our roads.”

Chunn said he also supports current regulations surrounding fracking and oil and gas businesses that operate safely.

Chunn said state lawmakers should repeal gun laws passed in 2013 that now require universal background checks and ban magazines that hold more than 15 rounds, and focus on improving mental health services as it relates to gun-related crimes.

“All we do with these outrageous gun laws is make every day citizens criminals and limit their rights,” he said. “Let’s instead invest in mental health research and help get rid of the stigma surrounding mental health issues. Addressing mental health will allow people to get the help they need and hopefully allow more people to realize that there is nothing wrong with seeking help for mental illness.”

Chunn said when it comes to education, Colorado is over-testing students.

“Instead of spending tons of money on these test each year, let’s let teachers do what they are passionate about and actually teach students,” he said. “If we focus on building our students skills, instead of just testing them we would likely see much better results as students graduate.”

Chunn is president of The Colorado Panthers, a Minor League Football Team that plays at Cherokee Trail High School. He is also the managing director of a telecom sales company in Denver.

Chunn is president of The Colorado Panthers, a Minor League Football Team that plays at Cherokee Trail High School. He is also the managing director of a telecom sales company in Denver.

Fields was the first African-American woman elected to serve House District 42 in 2010. She became active in state politics after becoming involved in victims rights and criminal justice issues after her son, Javad Marshall-Fields, and his fiancée, Vivian Wolfe, were gunned down in 2005. 

Would you vote to end capital punishment in Colorado? No. Unless it saved taxpayer dollars.

How should the state pay for substantial expansion of state roads? By starting to use tax dollars responsibly. The state charges us an extra 22 cents per gallon of fuel. We need to make sure that this taxed money gets to the roads. We also need to start making sure that we aren’t giving friends favors. Our government needs to be unbiased when it comes to handing out contracts on our roads.

Should the state cede some local control of fracking to counties and municipalities? How much? No. Fracking is a major part of our economy — without it we could head for a financial crisis in our state. We need to stop attacking businesses. As long as they are operating safely and treating employees fairly, we should reward them.

Should Colorado repeal gun-control laws from 2013? Yes. All we do with these outrageous gun laws is make everyday citizens criminals and limit their rights. Criminals are criminals because they don’t follow the laws! Let’s instead invest in mental health research and help get rid of the stigma surrounding mental health issues. Addressing mental health will allow people to get the help they need and hopefully allow more people to realize that there is nothing wrong with seeking help for mental illness.

Would you support a bill to ban red-light traffic cameras? Yes.

Would you support a measure to ask voters to re-write the Taxpayer Bill of Rights to require a vote on tax increases, but to remove all other state budget restrictions? No, the state is already spending too much. We need to be able to manage our finances much better and start cutting taxes.

Should a revised presidential primary system allow for non-affiliated voters to vote for party candidates? No. If you want to vote in a primary affiliate and if you prefer to be unaffiliated after that is your choice.

Will you vote for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or someone else? Regardless of who the president is, my job is to filter their policies and work for the citizens of S.D. 29. However, I will not vote for Clinton. I do not believe in political dynasties. I am tired of the Clintons and Bushes. This is not a monarchy; we don’t need royal families in America. In addition, based on the details about all of her scandals, she cannot be trusted at our nation’s highest office.

Should the state prevent counties, schools and municipalities from barring transgender people from using restrooms and locker rooms for sexes other than what appears on their birth certificates? If somebody is clearly changing their appearance and making the “change,” then we should leave them alone. If someone is just saying they “identify” as another gender and using that for nefarious acts, then we need allow the counties and communities to take legal action as they deem fit.

What one thing, above all, would you ask fellow lawmakers to do or change to increase student performance on standardized tests? Stop worrying about tests and start teaching students. Instead of spending tons of money on these tests each year, let’s let teachers do what they are passionate about and actually teach students. If we focus on building our students skills, instead of just testing them, we would likely see much better results as students graduate. They will be better prepared for the real world and more educated. All these tests are for is so we can play “keeping up with the Joneses” with other states.

Would you vote to end capital punishment in Colorado? This is a tough question for me. The killers who murdered my son, Javad Fields, and his fiancé, Vivan Wolfe, were sentenced to death. And I have concluded that my emotional well-being is not dependent on what happens to them. Our family is forever devastated by this tragedy and our healing comes from within and from the support of those who love us.

How should the state pay for substantial expansion of state roads? The recent population boom in Colorado has taken a toll on our roads. Today, over 40 percent of our highways are in poor condition, almost 400 of our bridges are in fair to poor condition and travel times, especially during peak periods, have significantly increased to the point where gridlock is expected on corridors such as I-25 and I-70. Gas taxes have remained flat since 1993, which is the main funding source for our roads. Therefore, my policy recommendation would be to raise gas taxes to support Colorado roads.

Should the state cede some local control of fracking to counties and municipalities? How much? Under current law, local governments in Colorado enjoy broad authority over land use matters surrounding fracking. Colorado has five types of local government structures: The power granted to each of these types of local government structures affects how they can regulate fracking. The current law provides flexibility for communities to lend voice to existing regulation.

Should Colorado repeal gun-control laws from 2013? No, I support the current gun safety measures.

Would you support a bill to ban red-light traffic cameras? No. I think red-light traffic cameras enhance road safety and decrease accidents. They save lives and are essential to Colorado’s road safety.

Would you support a measure to ask voters to re-write the Taxpayer Bill of Rights to require a vote on tax increases, but to remove all other state budget restrictions? While some states operate with some tax or spending limits, TABOR is the most restrictive limitation in the nation and has impaired the state’s ability to address priorities and respond to crises. Therefore, I would support proposed legislation to re-write the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, allowing voters the right to vote on tax increases and lessening state budget restrictions.

Should a revised presidential primary system allow for non-affiliated voters to vote for party candidates? Unaffiliated does not mean uninterested. Colorado has a fair voter registration system and we should consider legislation that would allow independents to vote in a presidential primary and allow Colorado to fall in line with other states.

Will you vote for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or someone else? I am with her, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Should the state prevent counties, schools and municipalities from barring transgender people from using restrooms and locker rooms for sexes other than what appears on their birth certificates? No, I support individuals being able to use bathrooms that support their gender identities.

What one thing, above all, would you ask fellow lawmakers to do or change to increase student performance on standardized tests? In order to increase school performance, we need to look at how we fund our schools. Under our current model, funding is tied to property and local tax wealth. I would advocate that we as lawmakers adopt a more equitable model such as student-based funding, that incentivizes innovation, boosts student achievement and fulfills the promise of equal opportunity.

Who our students are inside the classroom cannot be disentangled from their lived experiences outside of it.

What food do you hate most? How can you hate food? I guess, if any, it would be meatloaf.

Do you indulge in recreational marijuana? No. Not my cup of tea.

Who would play you in a movie about your life? I would hope it’s someone like Robert Downey Jr. or Ben Affleck, and not someone like Will Farrell or Seth Rogan.

What Olympic sport so you wish you could win gold at? Golf, because my golf game is awful

What was your favorite childhood candy? Shocktarts — they are called Sour Sweet tarts now. I like sour candy still to this day.

If you could be an eyewitness to one event in history, what would it be? I would love to have been present during the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

If the Secret Service gave you a code name, what would it be? Bronco

If you had to sing karaoke, what song would you sing? Car karaoke counts. Prince, “Purple Rain”

What epitaph would you like written on your tombstone? Nothing. I don’t need to be remembered for anything as long as what I do leaves positive mark on the world.

Is a hot dog a sandwich? No, it’s a hot dog. It doesn’t need any help. It stands on its own merits.

What is the last concert you attended? Chris Young at the 1stBank Center

What movie do you never tire of watching? “Talladega Nights”

Dogs or cats? Dogs, but I am a pet parent to both, and a chinchilla named Sterling M. Archer.

What’s the most overrated thing about living in Colorado? Nothing, it’s awesome here — except for the traffic and government overreach.

What food do you hate most? Tofu.

Do you indulge in recreational marijuana? No, I never inhale while walking down the 16th Street Mall.

Who would play you in a movie about your life? Kerry Washington.

What Olympic Sport so you wish you could win gold at? Ice skating.

What was your favorite childhood candy? Saltwater taffy.

If you could be an eyewitness to one event in history, what would it be? The creation of the heavens and the earth.

If the Secret Service gave you a code name, what would it be? Foxy Brown.

If you had to sing karaoke, what song would you sing? Car karaoke counts. “Man in the Mirror,” by Michael Jackson.

What epitaph would you like written on your tombstone? “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” — Maya Angelou

Is a hot dog a sandwich? A hot dog is a hot dog — not a sandwich.

What is the last concert you attended? The 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philly — it wasn’t a concert but it felt like I was at one!

What movie do you never tire of watching? “The Wizard of Oz”

Dogs or cats? Dogs.

What’s the most overrated thing about living in Colorado? Amendment 64.

The Federation of Independent Business Owners

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 Levy Morrow Democrat Precinct Leader

Major Roland Rainey

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Darryl Glenn

Jack Tate State, Senator

Cole Wist, State Rep

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Richard Bowman, HD 36 candidate 

Aurora Police Association

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