How government and distrust in politics shows up on the Denver ballot

At the state level, the race for Secretary of State highlights how Coloradans trust or distrust the government.
4 min. read
The Womxn’s March Denver marches around the Capitol on Oct. 8, 2022.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Government and political distrust are on the minds of Denverites. We asked 100 residents across the city what issues they hoped political candidates and proposed policies would address during the 2022 November elections and many Denverites said they've become disenchanted with politicians and overall feel their representatives have become untrustworthy. Some wondered how candidates and policies would regain their trust.

If you're feeling uneasy about the government these days, this list will explain which candidates and policies are focused on distrust. Ballots go out on Oct. 17 and voting takes place on Nov. 8.

Secretary of State 

The Secretary of State race will probably be the most watched race for Denverites who have strong feelings of mistrust for their government.

One of the SOS's main duties is overseeing elections and ensuring their integrity, a key issue amongst voters who have grown weary of their elected officials and overall voting process.

Incumbent Jena Griswold was elected in 2018 and has since overseen six statewide elections. She helped launch a ballot tracking system, worked on increasing drop-off boxes for mail in voters and assisted in passing automatic voter registration.

This election, she's looking to continue focusing on voter rights, safety and access.

Griswold's opponent, Pam Anderson, is looking to "rebuild public trust" by revamping the SOS office. Anderson wants to create a professional code of conduct, recruit and retain new leadership and expand operational assessments and audits for transparency purposes.

Here's more about incumbent Jena Griswold (Dem) and challenger Pam Anderson (GOP).

U.S. Senators and Representatives for Congress

There are two U.S. senators and eight U.S. House reps, up from seven, representing Colorado. These elected individuals work on a federal level, voting on policies, new laws and tax-dollar plans. Some of the policies can focus on creating a transparent government or they can work on voters' rights.

According to Incumbent U.S. Senator Michael Bennet's website, "our democracy is at risk" and "Washington's dysfunction bears much of the blame." Bennet has worked on legislation to ban Congress members from becoming lobbyists and from making stock trades, amongst other transparency laws. He's also worked on banning partisan gerrymandering.

Bennet's Republican challenger Joe O'Dea's website didn't mention political mistrust. O'Dea has publicly stated that he would not like to see former president Donald Trump -- who has repeatedly claimed without proof that the 2020 election was stolen -- run for office again, but has not clarified if he would vote for the former president again.

Read about the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Michael Bennet, a Democrat, here and his Republican challenger Joe O'Dea here.


Gov. Jared Polis touts the expansion of online and automatic voter registration as wins during his tenure as governor.

His Republican challenger, Heidi Ganahl, lists restoring voter confidence as a top campaign priority on her website. Ganahl has in the past defended her running mate, Danny Moore, for once questioning the validity of the 2020 election.

Here's more about Gov. Jared Polis and Heidi Ganahl.

Attorney General

The Attorney General's office can ensure folks follow transparency laws and they can protect voters' rights.

According to current AG Phil Weiser's website, the AG's office focuses on protecting constitutional rights and guaranteeing equality. Some examples include "defending access to quality and affordable healthcare provided under the Affordable Care Act, or addressing threats to representative government."

Here's more about who's running.

State Senators and Representatives in the state legislature

State senators and representatives focus on Colorado policies and laws unlike their U.S. Congress counterparts, who focus on the federal side. State Senators and representatives have the power to enact policies that better transparency.

There are 35 state senators and 17 of those seats are up for election, including District 32, which covers south and southwest Denver, and District 34, which covers west and northwest Denver.

There are 65 members of the house and all of the seats are up for election.

?️ For more information on the November ballot, check out the Denverite and Colorado Public Radio ballot guides.

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