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Freshman Colorado Lawmakers Making A Wave In Leadership Roles

DENVER (CBS4) - A wave of rookie lawmakers makes landfall at the Colorado State Capitol in two weeks when the new session gets underway. Forty percent of House Democrats are first year lawmakers, and with the new generation comes a new way of doing business.

Alex Valdez (credit: CBS)

Rep.-elect Alex Valdez of Denver will be the first lawmaker ever to have a leadership position his first year.

"I've always been a communicator. Prior to coming to the legislature, I was a CEO and that requires the ability to communicate ideas and making sure you're taking the communal vision of everybody that serves in that group and making it a reality."

CBS4's Shaun Boyd interviews Alex Valdez. (credit: CBS)

Valdez, who is gay and Latino, is among a diverse group of 16 newcomers in the democratic caucus, and they didn't run on maintaining the status quo.

"I had nothing to do with politics prior to running for office," said Valdez. "This is my first step into this realm. Before, I was committed to renewable energy and making sure the people of Colorado had access to solar. I realized through my race that we needed a seat at table. That's me specifically, but then you have people in there who are educators and social workers. It's such a diverse group that doesn't come from the system but comes from the ground."

(credit: CBS)

Valdez is the first rookie to have a seat at the leadership table. The new position is a recognition by Democratic leadership that voters are hungry for change, and a nod to a larger than usual freshmen class that will hold plenty of sway.

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Copter4 flew over the state Capitol (credit: CBS)

"We didn't really have to strong arm. This was something that leadership bought into early and believed that this was an important thing to have these voices, people who've just been on campaigns and just talked to people at their doors about where they want Colorado to go and what things we need to work on."

The new position is modeled after one Democrat in the U.S. House created a couple years ago. A freshman Congressman from Colorado was elected to the position this year. Rep. Joe Neguse, who won the seat vacated by Gov.-elect Jared Polis, is the Democratic caucus's representative for junior members.

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