State Sen. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, who's served as a representative and senator in the State Legislature since 2010, issued a statement today, Nov. 23, to constituents and supporters, reflecting on his time in office and conveyed sympathy to the victims of the Nov. 20 Club Q shooting.
"I want to recognize the Club Q shooting that occurred in our community over the weekend, and send my deepest condolences to all those impacted," he wrote. "The events at Club Q are the result of violence, bigotry and hate speech that has been long simmering in the shadows and now moved to the forefront.
"Bullying, name calling and disparaging of those who are different has become an acceptable part of public dialogue – and it is being done at the highest levels of our elected leadership," he continued. "I call on all leaders to unqualifiedly condemn bigotry, bias and hate speech whenever it appears. We must renew our commitment to the deep rooted national tradition of respectful dialogue and civil discourse. We can best honor the Club Q victims in a small way by doing so."
Lee is leaving office because the redistricting process drew him out of Senate District 11 and into Senate District 12, a seat held by Republican Bob Gardner, who wasn't up for reelection this year.
Lee will be succeeded by Rep. Tony Exum, D-Colorado Springs, who defeated Sen. Dennis Hisey, R-Fountain, who also had been drawn out of his district.
Lee recently saw a criminal charge brought by District Attorney Michael Allen dismissed. The charge alleged Lee cast a vote from an address where he doesn't live. The DA's Office could refile the charge. An investigation regarding Hisey's residency also is under way but so far no charge has been filed.
Here's the rest of Lee's statement:
Next, I want to acknowledge the success of the recent midterm elections that were a true victory for democracy. Mail-in ballots and early voting predominated in every jurisdiction; turnout overall and among young voters (18-29) was the second highest ever and voter intimidation was rare. Most importantly, extremist “election denier” candidates significantly underperformed other Republicans, and there have been no legitimate claims of election fraud. The resiliency of our democratic republic was tested and has prevailed.
For the past 12 years, I have had the high privilege and distinct honor of serving the people of Colorado Springs, personally sponsoring 192 bills, devoting my time as a state legislator fighting for your interests and ensuring you had a seat at the table when it mattered most. Through many trials and tribulations, wins and losses, late nights, long debates and challenging votes, I have done my absolute best to ensure you had a strong advocate at the State Capitol. After four two-year terms in the House and one four-year term in the Senate, I will be wrapping up my career in elected service on January 9, 2023. To me, there is no higher honor in life than public service and working on behalf of one’s community. Having the opportunity to speak with members of our community, shape important policy, and have a direct impact on the lives of everyday Coloradans is an awesome responsibility and a cherished opportunity – an experience I will be eternally grateful for.
During my time in the legislature, we have faced good times and bad – a great recession, the COVID-19 pandemic, mass unemployment, affordable housing shortages, devastating wildfires, floods, droughts, horrific gun violence in schools and in public spaces, and – like other states – rising crime, fentanyl usage and inflation. Throughout these hardships, I earnestly sought to adhere to my vision and mission while responding to the challenges with reasonable, thoughtful, evidence-based policies, and I routinely sought the bipartisan middle ground by conferring with colleagues, interested stakeholders and my constituents.
Throughout my tenure, I was proud to serve on numerous committees to help shape policy solutions to the issues most important to Coloradans. I served six years as chair of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees, and as a member of committees related to legal services, finance, local government, education, transportation and energy. I also served on several special committees related to wildfire prevention, juvenile justice reform, sentencing, and mental health in the criminal justice system. These experiences helped me be an even more effective legislator and strong advocate for my community.
Reflecting on my career in politics, I can humbly say that I am gratified with what we have accomplished. Without a doubt, these past twelve years have been manifestly productive for the Colorado Legislature. The people of Colorado should be proud of their legislators. We have passed over six thousand bills to improve the lives of Colorado’s working families, the vast majority working across the aisle with bipartisan support. In one year, a Republican Senator and I were recognized as having the most bipartisan bills of any two legislators – something I am incredibly proud of. All of this would not have been possible without the wonderful staff at the Capitol: our caucus staff; the non-partisan bill drafters, researchers analysts and committee staff; the partisan staff on both sides of the aisle; and the lobbyists and stakeholder advocates whose voices inform public policy. Thank you all for the work you do behind the scenes.
I want to thank you all for putting your trust in me to serve and for supporting me for all these years. It truly has been an honor of a lifetime, and I could not be more grateful to have had this opportunity. I hope you will continue reading this email to reflect on the last 12 years alongside me – I could not have done this without you.
I wish you and your family all the best, especially as we enter the holiday season. Please stay safe and healthy, and always look out for each other.