Pat Steadman, champion for the underdog

Gov. John Hickenlooper high-fives Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, after signing Senate Bill 11, establishing civil unions for same-sex couples in Colorado, on March 21, 2013, at the History Colorado Center in Denver. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)

So, Pat Steadman is finally going to let One Colorado honor him for all the work he has done to better the lives of the state’s gay and lesbian residents.

The former state senator has been passionate about gay rights for more than two decades — he cried in the streets of Denver the night Coloradans in 1992 passed Amendment 2, which prohibited laws from protecting gays from from discrimination.

“It was a very volatile, explosive evening with lots of raw emotion. It was a huge wake-up call,” Steadman said in an interview with The Denver Post in 2013.

That’s the year the legislature finally passed his measure to allow gay couples to enter into civil unions. It was a bittersweet victory for the Denver Democrat — his partner of 11 years died of pancreatic cancer a few months before the session began.

Steadman, who was term limited after the 2016 election,  will receive One Colorado’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the Four Seasons Hotel in Denver on Aug. 26.

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Why I gave to Project Angel Heart

Ellis McFadden was memorialized at the Project Angel Heart facility after his death in 2015. (Lynn Bartels/The Spot/Denver Post)
Ellis McFadden was memorialized at the Project Angel Heart facility after his death in 2015. (Lynn Bartels/The Spot/Denver Post)

Many good causes caught my attention on Colorado Gives Day but in the end I chose just one, in honor of a man whom I barely nodded to in life and came to admire in death.

I donated to Project Angel Heart because of the late Ellis McFadden, a community activist, selfless volunteer and “unwavering champion for equality” who died of throat cancer on July 5, 2015. He was 65.

His memorial service was held at Project Angel Heart, which delivers meals to improve the quality of life for those coping with life-threatening illness.

Although I had seen McFadden around the Capitol and at political events, I didn’t even know his name until 2013 when the Colorado Democratic Party honored him at its annual Jefferson Jackson dinner for his volunteer efforts. I mentioned him in an article about the event, but offered no details.

When McFadden was close to death, the legislature honored him as did Gov. John Hickenlooper, who issued a proclamation. Tributes poured in Facebook. That’s when I realized just how special he was.

“It will take an army of volunteers to fill his shoes,” Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver said at McFadden’s memorial service.

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Honoring “The Lady of the House”

Former Sen. Dottie Wham, former Capitol staffer Mary Sharon Wells, Sen. Pat Steadman and lobbyist Charlie Hebler at the memorial tribute for Lee Bahrych, former chief clerk of the House, Tuesday at the Colorado State Capitol. (SOS photo)
Former Sen. Dottie Wham, former Capitol staffer Mary Sharon Wells, Sen. Pat Steadman and lobbyist Charlie Hebler at the memorial tribute Tuesday at the Colorado State Capitol for Lee Bahrych, former chief clerk of the House. (SOS photo)

Lawmakers past and present showed up Tuesday to pay tribute to Lee Bahrych, the former chief clerk of the state House who loved the Capitol as much as she despised the pranks rowdy lawmakers were prone to pull.

Former staffer Donna Acierno recalled how Bahrych once got so annoyed with Rep. Scott McInnis she grabbed the lawmaker’s ear and made him sit down in his seat.

“That was before Scott was in leadership,” Acierno said, with a laugh.

Chief Clerk Marilyn Eddins and former Rep. Jeff Shoemaker at a tribute Tuesday for the late Lee Bahrych. (SOS photo)
Chief Clerk Marilyn Eddins and former Rep. Jeff Shoemaker at a tribute Tuesday for the late Lee Bahrych, former chief clerk of the House. (SOS photo)

McInnis, who went on to become the House majority leader, a congressman and now a Mesa County commissioner, was present at Bahrych’s tribute in the old Supreme Court chambers at the Capitol. Afterward, guests were invited to have strawberries and pound cake — in honor of Bahrych’s tradition of serving strawberries to her staffers once the session ended.

Bahrych, who died in April at the age of 90, had worked at the Capitol from 1970 to 1994.

“I thought it was a beautiful tribute to a great lady,” said the current chief clerk, Marilyn Eddins. “Lee was there when I was interviewed and hired in 1982. I had not been employed in 16 years and was very nervous. She put me at ease and I have never forgotten her kind words and encouragement. That encouragement never stopped.”

Eddins became emotional when talking about Bahrych.

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Sen. Pat Steadman: Meet the people who want to be the next me

Erin Bennet, state director of the Colorado chapter of 9to5, at a rally at the state Capitol. (Bennett campaign photo)
Erin Bennet, state director of the Colorado chapter of 9to5, at a rally at the state Capitol. (Bennett campaign photo)

State Sen. Pat Steadman does most of the talking at his town halls, but on Monday he’s going to give three Denver Democrats vying for his seat a chance to make their case.

Steadman said next year is going to be “all about” the race for president and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet’s re-election bid.

“Not enough attention is paid to state legislative races,” he said, when asked about hosting the candidate forum.

“Now is the perfect time to ask people to learn more about candidates who want to represent them in the state legislature. It’s a public service.”

Sen. Pat Steadman, left, had endorsed Steve Sherick, right, in the race got his legislative seat. (Sherick campaign photo)
Sen. Pat Steadman, left, had endorsed Steve Sherick, right, in the race got his legislative seat. (Sherick campaign photo)
Gov. John HIckenlooper, left, has endorsed state Rep. Lois Court for Senate District 31. (Court campaign photo)
Gov. John HIckenlooper, left, has endorsed state Rep. Lois Court for Senate District 31. (Court campaign photo)

Steadman is term limited after 2016. Running for his seat are Erin Bennett, the state director of the Colorado chapter of  9to5, state Rep. Lois Court and emergency room doctor Steve Sherick.  Steadman raised some eyebrows earlier this week by endorsing Sherick with the town hall just days away. The endorsement was first reported by The Denver Post’s John Frank, who noted Steadman passed over his legislative colleague.

Steadman told the SOS he originally planned to hold the Senate District 31 town hall last month, and didn’t want to hold off any longer on endorsing Sherick.

The forum  will be held at the Eisenhower Chapel at Lowry, 293 Roslyn St. Doors open at 6:15 p.m. Monday, and the event begins at 7 p.m. and is scheduled to end at 8 p.m.

If you’re Chris Hansen, where’s Sen. Cory Gardner?

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Yuma Republican, and his chief of staff, Chris Hansen. (Facebook)
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Yuma Republican, and his chief of staff, Chris Hansen. (Facebook)

Meet Chris Hansen, the chief of staff for Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner. Meet Chris Hansen, one of three Democrats running for a Denver state House seat.

The two Chris Hansens have never met but their paths have crossed for more than a year.

When candidate Chris Hansen showed up at the Denver Rustlers lunch on Sept. 1  guests peppered him with questions and comments. “Wait, you’re not the Chris Hansen I know!” and “I thought Cory’s chief of staff would be here when I saw your name on the list.”

It’s happened at other events, too, where both Republicans and Democrats are in the crowd.

Chief of Staff Chris Hansen knows the feeling. He opened up his Facebook page last year to find he had been “tagged” in a post by DA candidate Michael Carrigan as attending an event where Betsy Markey, a Democrat running for state treasurer, “gave great remarks about her race.”

“Wrong Chris Hansen,” Chris Hansen wrote on Facebook. “A very wrong Chris Hansen, since I’m actually Cory’s campaign manager. Looks like a fun event though.”

“It was,” Carrigan replied. “Should have brought Cory!”

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