Denver Rep. Dan Pabon: “We believe in each other”

Speaker Pro Tem Dan Pabon, his wife Heather and their 3-year-old son Alec at the House District 4 spaghetti dinner in north Denver Saturday night.
Speaker Pro Tem Dan Pabon, his wife Heather and their 3-year-old son Alec at the House District 4 Democratic spaghetti dinner in north Denver Saturday night.

You just know a Democratic spaghetti dinner in north Denver is going to be tasty because of the neighborhood’s Italian heritage, and you know the keynote speech is going to be good when Speaker Pro Tem Dan Pabon has been tapped for the honors.

Pabon urged fellow Democrats to support the party’s presidential nominee, no matter the candidate they currently are backing.

“That’s how we are going to keep Michael Bennet in the United States Senate so he can vote up or down any Supreme Court nominee nominated by the president — no matter his or her party,” Pabon said during the House District 4 fundraiser Saturday night. “It’s how we are going to take the Colorado Senate, keep the Colorado House and how we are going to elect a Democrat to the White House.”

Two hot open races in Denver — for Denver district attorney and the University of Colorado regent in Congressional District 1– helped bolster turnout at the House District 4 dinner in the Highlands Methodist Church basement. Forty more people than had RSVP’d showed up to support Democrats and eat chef Jim Okerson’s meatballs and Italian sausage.

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The three Democrats running for CU regent in Congressional District 1 are, left to right, Lucky Vidmar, Jack Kroll and Zachary Rothmier.

The three Democrats running for DA are senior deputy district attorney Kenneth Boyd, CU regent Michael Carrigan,  and Rep. Beth McCann. The three regent candidates are Jack Kroll, Zachary Rothmier and Lucky Vidmar.

The winner of the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award was Shirley Schley,  a fixture in north Denver politics for decades. In her emotional speech, she said Pabon nailed it when he outlined why he was a Democrat. Schley, raised in an Italian family, talked about hard times during the Depression and how her father got a job with the WPA. She is a key thread in the fabric of fascinating north Denver political stories.

Pabon noted that in 2008 Democrats were divided on whether to support Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton for president, just as they now are divided between Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Denver City Councilman Rafael Espinoza, Shirley Schley and Speaker Pro Tem Dan Pabon at the House District 4 fundraiser Saturday night in north Denver.
Denver City Councilman Rafael Espinoza, Shirley Schley and Speaker Pro Tem Dan Pabon at the House District 4 fundraiser Saturday night in north Denver.

“But what makes us Democrats is not who we are for, but what we are for,”Pabon said.

“We are the party of civil rights — we walk forthrightly in sunshine of civil rights. We are the party of economic security — we believe in equal pay for equal work; we believe that the right to form a union is the antitheft device on our economy. … We are the party of science – we believe in climate change.

“We are the Democratic Party,” Pabon said,” and we believe in each other.”

Meanwhile, my boss, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, spoke to the Otero County Lincoln Day dinner. More on that later.