Education News

School custodian Rochelle Galindo wins Colorado House race

More than 1,600 households in District 50 were contacted October 13 during the NCUU Pumpkin Rally. Photo Credit: Ron Anderson

Like stepping-stones leading straight up a hill to the Colorado Statehouse in Denver, a series of challenging jobs, union support, and lots of hard work over the last 10 years put Rochelle Galindo in the fast lane to victory Nov. 6 in her House District 50 race.

At age 28, Galindo could not have planned her trajectory any better. The Tribune newspaper in Greeley called it “a meteoric rise in Colorado politics that started with campaign work and featured a successful Greeley City Council race when she was just 25.”

Galindo lives in Greeley but works about 50 miles away in Lafayette as a custodian at Lafayette Elementary School. Most of her colleagues at school and fellow members of the Boulder Valley Classified Employees Association (BVCEA) could not vote for Galindo since they live in a different county, school district, and voting jurisdiction.

Galindo even has a different UniServ representative than her school colleagues.

“It didn’t matter that she worked in a different district,” says Ron Anderson, Galindo’s UniServ director with the Northern Colorado UniServ Unit (NCUU). “She’s a union member and an educator who went through a rigorous screening process with the Colorado Education Association (CEA).”

Immediately following her announcement to run for office, many of NCUU’s 1,500 members got together in support of Galindo, who has a bachelor’s degree in political science.

“We came up with a political action plan with goals that included ballot measures and support for Rochelle and other candidates,” Anderson says. “We had people working every weekend for her … canvassing, texting, phone-banking.”

On October 13, for example, more than 1,600 households in District 50 were contacted during what the group called the NCUU Pumpkin Rally.

“She’s a fellow educator and union member who is committed to funding public schools,” Anderson says.

Galindo also received support from CEA and NEA staff.

“Rochelle is amazing as is her story,” says Princess Moss, NEA secretary-treasurer who campaigned for Galindo. “Her campaign headquarters was her mother’s home!”

Path to Success

The road to the statehouse began when Galindo joined the Greeley Youth Commission while attending Central High School in Greeley, where she was born and raised. Galindo is the daughter of working-class parents who earned their living in the oil and gas industry, and the meat industry.

“Coming from a blue-collar family I understand what working families go through every day,” Galindo stated on Twitter. “I am one of you and I want to ensure HD50 has the type of leadership that reflects the people.”

In 2012, she became a field organizer in Weld County for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, then served as deputy campaign manager for current House District 50 Rep. Dave Young’s re-election campaign in 2014.

In November 2015, she became Greeley’s first openly gay city council member and represented some of the same areas she’ll represent in District 50 at the state capitol. As a council member, Galindo was known for conducting monthly town hall meetings and publishing monthly newsletters in English and Spanish.

“This transparency and accessibility will continue while I serve as state representative,” Galindo has stated. “I’m a product of Colorado public schools and I know first-hand how important a quality education can be.”

Funding Schools, Health Care Programs

Galindo states on her campaign website that schools and classroom sizes continue to grow while funding is stagnant.

“I will fight to provide schools with the funding they need in order to establish a quality education for all Colorado students,” she states.

Galindo credits her team of volunteers, interns, and staff for contributing to what became a record voter turnout for District 50, which encompasses the cities of Greeley, Evans, and Garden City.

“We were making sure every voice was heard and working to make sure we were expanding the electorate,” she told The Tribune. “That’s how I won the primary, and that’s how I was sure I was going to win the general.”

Along with education, health care was a top concern for Galindo and voters in District 50. Colorado’s health insurance exchange and Medicaid expansion have given hundreds of thousands more residents coverage, but affordability and access are particularly challenging in remote areas.

“I think the state should look at options that allow people more choices,” Galindo stated in a voter guide published by The Denver Post. “We should be encouraging the use of Direct Primary Care practices.”

The state needs to find ways to get out from between the patient and their doctor, Galindo added.

“While we all want access to great health care, we all have very different ideas on what that looks like,” she states. “Much like our education system, when the state starts putting burdens on healthcare providers, the costs, while not necessarily seen by the consumer go up as it takes time away from being with patients, and causes increases in overhead to meet those requirements.”

There are approximately 2.9 million ESP in the U.S. Of these, approximately 500,000 are NEA members. NEA has developed a system of nine career groups and 60 subgroups to show the diverse roles that school support professionals play in schools.

By John Rosales

4 responses to “School custodian Rochelle Galindo wins Colorado House race

  1. Congratulations Rochelle! I know you will represent your constituents well! I have always been impressed with you.

  2. Rochelle Galindo is a winner and will work for everyone, because that is who she is. We teachers love her and so do our students.

  3. Congratulations Rochelle!

    It is particularly gratifying to have one of our educators elected to an important legislative position. May your voice be a resounding call to Colorado’s education successes. I am impressed at your record of service and commitment.
    Best wishes to you,

    Dave Johnson, retired educator, member NEA, UEA, past president AEA

  4. So very proud! Thanks for writing about a person who has our blue collar workers in the forefront! I am a retired ESP from Massachusetts and loved my job as an assistant in K thru 5 elementary school! We can and do make a difference!

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