In 2004-2005, I participated in the Leadership Program of the Rockies course, learning a lot and, more importantly, making many great friends and contacts in the then-simmering and now-boiling-over pro-liberty movement in Colorado.
I'm going to say this early and say it again later: Even if you don't intend to participate in the class, I urge you to make a tax-deductible donation to LPR. Do it today so it doesn't slip your mind. It is the best investment in the future of our state which you could ever make. (And no, I don't get any commissions!)will
In fact, the course impressed me so much that I've contributed to LPR every year since then, including sponsoring or co-sponsoring a class each year except one since that time.
Thus is was not a particular surprise to learn of the tremendous success of the program's graduates during the recent election season.
In particular, 24 LPR grads (at least) were elected to office in Colorado, including:
Scott Gessler, Secretary of State
Kevin Grantham, SD 2
Kent Lambert, SD 9
Kevin Lundberg, SD 15
Ted Harvey, SD 30
Janak Joshi, HD 14
Larry Liston, HD 16
Bob Gardner, HD 20
Don Beezley, HD 33
Spencer Swalm, HD 37
Kathleen Conti, HD 38
Glenn Vaad, HD 48
Sue Sharkey, CU Regent - 4
Nancy Sharpe, Arapahoe County Commissioner
Grayson Robinson, Arapahoe County Sheriff
David Weaver, Douglas County Sheriff
Lora Thomas, Douglas County Coroner
Paul Lundeen, State Board of Education
Peggy Littleton, El Paso County Commissioner
Wayne Williams, El Paso Clerk and Recorder
Terry Maketa, El Paso County Sheriff
Kurt Schlegel, Elbert County Commissioner
JJ Jamison, Teller Clerk and Recorder
Dave Paul, Teller County Commissioner
But it's not just in elected office that LPR graduates are having an impact:
Matt Arnold championed the brave effort to "Clear the Bench Colorado" and although falling short nevertheless got a remarkable 40% "No" vote on three State Supreme Court Justice retentions. We can only hope that those judges keep that in the back of their mind the next time they're called upon to defend the state constitution.
Influential pro-liberty bloggers and media activists who have graduated from LPR include Tom James (Peoples Press Collective), Michael Sandoval (PPC and National Review), Eileen Mahony (PPC), Kelly Maher (WhoSaidYouSaid.com), Wesley Dickinson (PPC), Ben DeGrow (PPC), Brian Schwartz (PPC), Elliot Fladen (PPC), and Tyler Martinez, as well as your humble columnist spilling virtual ink on these pages. [Most PPC contributors also have their own blogs...]
Amanda Teresi, founder of Liberty on the Rocks is an LPR grad as is my radio producer and (unfortunately) unsuccessful candidate for office in a very liberal district, Joshua Sharf, who has his own pro-liberty blog. Other pro-liberty activists, such as Al Maurer, Michelle Morin and Lesley Hollywood are in this years LPR class. Teddy Otero from the Constitutionalist Today is also in this year's class. And, of course, there is David Williams, who is not only a blogger but also Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Colorado.
Also, its worth noting that the push for school vouchers in Douglas County is being championed by LPR grad and Chairman of the Douglas County Board of Education, John Carson along with fellow Board of Ed member and LPR grad Meghann Silverthorn. Carson, along with at least two other LPR grads, including the effervescent Charcie Russell are quoted in this Denver Post article on the voucher issue.
All in all, LPR is proving itself to be a force in Colorado politics, training future leaders, whether officeholders or others who try to influence current events or opinion, in principles of liberty, free markets, and practical aspects of communication and effectiveness.
Anybody who has a desire to make your state and nation a better place through any of the various routes demonstrated by prior LPR grads or through a route of your own design are strongly encouraged to consider applying for LPR next year. There are usually multiple applicants for each spot in the 65-person class, but then anyone who is serious about promoting liberty and free markets shouldn't shy away from a little competition...
So, again: Even if you don't intend to participate in the class, I urge you to make a tax-deductible donation to LPR. Do it today. You can then, even if you don't have time yourself to be actively involved in politics or other pro-liberty pursuits, know that you have done your part to further freedom and free markets in our once-and-future great state.
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