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Letter to the Editor - Polis continues "war on rural Colorado"

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PROMO Politician - Jerry Sonnenberg Colorado Senate District 1
Senator Jerry Sonnenberg

Elections are fast approaching, and this governor is making political appointments that appear to be furthering his “War on Rural Colorado.”

Polis’ latest appointment, to the State Board of Veterinary Medicine, is a self-proclaimed “vegan activist” whose response to the outcry against this absurd move was to attack one of Colorado’s premier youth organizations on social media. Ellen Kessler claimed that 4-H clubs – known as one of the first kids’ clubs in America, with a focus on leadership, citizenship, and life skills – “teach children that animal lives don’t matter.”

More than 100,000 currently active Colorado 4-H members and the nearly 10,000 adult and youth volunteer leaders would, I think, disagree with her preposterous charge. 4-H members contribute to their communities and gain practical experience in subject areas that include workforce preparation and career exploration, leadership and volunteerism, character and ethics, food and nutrition, agriculture and natural resources, conservation, consumer decision-making, robotics, rocketry, animal sciences, and public speaking – just to name a few.

This governor and his staff should be embarrassed about this political appointment, especially because it should not be political at all. As a member of the State Board of Veterinary Medicine, Kessler would work closely with the Colorado Department of Agriculture on matters pertaining to Colorado’s livestock industry. How can a professed vegan activist make unbiased decisions about veterinary matters  in an industry she wants to dismantle?

While I hope that when faced with this nomination the Senate Democrats will take a hard look at the absurdity of this appointment and vote it down, that hasn’t happened in the past. As recently as June, another appointee from this governor to the State Fair Board garnered opposition from both sides of the aisle as an inappropriate selection. The appointment was doomed to fail with bipartisan opposition – until Senate leadership refused to bring the confirmation to a vote. Through political sidesteps and technical maneuvers, that appointee continues to serve.

But wait, there’s more: Jeff Rice and the Sterling Journal-Advocate printed a two-part story revealing that out of 25 boards and 220 appointments, only 12 appointees hailed from east of I-25. That’s right, roughly 5% of appointments are from the eastern third of the state. What a mess Polis has made with his diversification of the boards; perhaps he ought to include some of the folks affected by these appointments, from not only the eastern plains but all of the state’s rural areas.

Maybe Governor Polis had his predecessor John Hickenlooper share the former governor’s quoted beliefs about us “backward thinking” people in rural Colorado. Rest assured, we “backwards thinking” folks will continue to provide the food, fiber, and energy this state and the rest of the world depend on. Rural Colorado is full of intelligent, hardworking, salt-of-the-earth people who would make great appointments to oversee professions like the State Board of Veterinary Medicine.

So how do we show our opposition to Kessler’s appointment? Call Governor Polis’ office at 303-866-2471. Be polite and briefly share why you think any advocate might have a conflict of interest when appointed to a board charged with oversight of the very subject against which they are vocally opposed.

Jerry Sonnenberg

Colorado Senate District 1