Colorado State Rep. Julie McCluskie is ‘honored’ to be next House speaker
For four years, Rep. Julie McCluskie has represented Summit County, as well as Delta, Gunnison, Lake and Pitkin counties, in the Colorado House of Representatives. After redistricting, she will represent House District 13, which contains Jackson, Grand, Summit, Lake and Park counties and the majority of Chaffee County.
Throughout her time in the House, she has focused on wildfire mitigation, education and health insurance. McCluskie lives in Dillon, attending local Summit County events like short-term rental public forums as well as concerts at the Dillon Amphitheater.
Following the midterm election this November, it was announced that McCluskie had been selected by the Democratic Caucus to lead as the next speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives.
“My heart is still full with how honored I am by this recognition from my colleagues,” McCluskie said. “It is a tremendous opportunity and responsibility.”
McCluskie said she had expressed to colleagues her interest in becoming speaker over the summer. On Nov. 10, she presented a speech on behalf of her interest in becoming the next speaker. One day later, it was announced she had been selected for the role.
In 2021, McCluskie was selected to be chair of the Joint Budget Committee, overseeing state budget allocations. McCluskie said her experience studying the budget, especially through the pandemic, gave her the knowledge and expertise she needed to “throw her hat in the ring.”
“My knowledge around our state’s budget and experience guiding us through a very tumultuous and challenging time, my commitment to working with Republicans, unaffiliated (voters) and Democrats, and bringing forward solutions that represented not only the members of the House, but also diverse voices from all across the state — that was truly what I believe is important for leadership in this next phase of government in this next term,” McCluskie said.
Last year, the state passed legislation focused on housing, behavioral health, wildfire mitigation and more. Moving forward, McCluskie said she hopes to see those programs implemented as well as adding new legislation that represents “the needs of Coloradans.”
According to McCluskie, her appointment is the first time since 2000 that a Western Slope representative has been chosen as speaker. Also notable about this election cycle is the amount of women that will be working alongside McCluskie at the state level.
Out of 100 senators and representatives of the Colorado General Assembly, 51 are women. On either side of McCluskie will be two women — majority leader Monica Duran and assistant majority leader Jennifer Bacon.
McCluskie said she is proud of the diversity within the House as well as the representation of women in leadership — not only to set an example for younger women and girls, but also for the good of Colorado.
“I hope it really helps us do a better job of being inclusive of the diversity of opinion, needs and hopes that exist all across this space,” McCluskie said.
McCluskie added that she is prioritizing creating an agenda that prioritizes challenges faced by all Coloradans, in addition to focusing on issues that affect local Summit County residents. Currently at the top of her list for both is water resources.
“My district includes the headwaters of the Colorado River,” McCluskie said. “I am deeply, deeply committed to making sure that the House, the Senate, that we work in partnership with the governor’s office with our federal Congressional delegation, and that we lean in on the significant water crisis we are facing in the Western United States. So having that focus on water from the Western Slope, I think is a great advantage for the House.”
McCluskie said she hopes to soon create a policy agenda that is crafted with the priorities and perspectives of her colleagues.
“I don’t want to forecast where we will begin our work until we’ve had time to come together, listen to one another and understand what the needs are across the state and then put our energy, focus and resources into those areas,” McCluskie said.
McCluskie’s speaker selection will need to be approved by the House when the Legislature returns in January.
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