South Jeffco resident Mary Parker says the experience gained in 2012 in her first political campaign has made her a better candidate this time around.
Parker is the Democratic candidate in state House District 22, the same seat she sought in 2012 against the current incumbent, state Rep. Justin Everett.
In 2012, Parker lost by about 4,000 votes, or 9 percentage points, to Everett, who is facing a GOP primary challenge this year from Loren Bauman.
“I learned a lot. It was hard to put myself out the first time, to knock on doors and introduce myself,” Parker said. “After knocking on literally 20,000 doors, I feel like I’m much more prepared, and that makes it much more enjoyable. Now I appreciate the different personalities and different life experiences. I’m a better candidate, at least as far as campaigning is concerned.”
Parker said that experience, along with her 30-plus years in the business world, make her a solid choice to replace Everett in the state House.
She still had the signs
Parker still has campaign materials from her bid in 2012, but a stockpile of yard signs wasn’t the only reason she decided to run again. Parker wants to build on the momentum she built in 2012 in a district that’s not politically tilted in her favor.
“I was disappointed (in losing), but I wasn’t disappointed in the number of votes I got, since it was a good showing for a Democrat,” Parker said. “If I gave up and said I did a good job and pass the baton to someone else, they’d have to start from scratch and wouldn’t get that momentum. … It’s really satisfying when I knock on a door now and they say, ‘I remember you.’ ”
Todd Kastetter, a Denver lawyer and a resident of House District 22, said Parker would bring a level of optimism and enthusiasm that is rarely seen in politicians.
“She’s not a jaded, cynical hack that you see sometimes. She sees being a public servant as a responsibility and really embraced it with a level of optimism that’s so refreshing and unusual,” Kastetter said. “While she was (running a small business) and being a working mom, she was a certified parent educator back in Maryland.
“She brings that background, and with it comes a lot of wisdom and professional maturity and also shows her commitment to the district.”
A lifetime in business
Before moving to Jefferson County, Parker worked for Hewlett-Packard for 21 years in Maryland. She retired in 2002 when the company merged with Compaq Computers and about 35,000 people were laid off.
“I saw the best of the corporate world and the worst of the corporate world,” Parker said. “When they merged with Compaq, a lot of jobs started going overseas.”
After taking early retirement, Parker joined her husband in their own human resources consulting firm.
“I feel like I have small-business experience, and I have corporate business experience. And I was a working mom, so I know the challenges of day care. I do know what it’s like to try and juggle home and career,” Parker said.
Parker has volunteered in social services since living in Maryland. She has coached new parents in parenting and life skills, and currently volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate in Jeffco, along with working with truancy cases.
Parker said many of the issues she considers important are related to her social services work, especially on how to help0 families.
Making social services work
Parker said her work in social services not only led her to appreciate the need for the programs, but also the need to make them work better.
“I think it’s important that we help the children whose parents are not able or willing to take responsibility, and I think as a society we need to help those children. But I’ve also learned so much about the system itself,” Parker said. “I’ve been able to see the bureaucracy of a lot of our social services that I support so clearly. But I can see how they’ve gotten inefficient or don’t communicate with one another.”
Parker said that, if elected, she would work to streamline social services in the state.
“More than adding new programs or new legislation, I’d like to focus on things that could consolidate or even eliminate redundancies,” Parker said.
Her GOP rivals
Parker said both GOP candidates in House District 22 share the same political orientation.
“They seem to have the same philosophy that says, ‘Get the government out of my life.’ I feel like that’s almost throwing the baby out with the bathwater,” Parker said. “Our founding fathers created a Constitution that was designed, as the preamble said, to establish justice and ensure tranquility and promote general welfare.”
Parker said Everett has voted against bills with bipartisan support, including House Bill 1119, which provided military veterans a special designation on their driver’s licenses. Everett was one of three Republicans to vote against the bill in 2013.
“You don’t vote down something just because it’s a government program or vote against it just because it has some oversight or supervision or regulation or something in it,” Parker said. “Sometimes regulation is a good thing, certainly when you talk about food safety or air quality.”
Parker said that whoever representsthe district in 2015 needs to remember that she works for everyone, not just her supporters.
“(They) have to understand that just because 52 percent of the voters voted for you and supported your position on things, 48 percent had a different opinion and different views,” Parker said. “You still represent them, and it’s your responsibility to reach out to them and listen to them, talk to them and explain your positions.”
Opposes Common Core
Parker favors uniform standards in education but said Common Core might go too far and tie the hands of teachers and districts, preventing innovation.
“If it gets too big and too specific, and ties the hands of local school districts and teachers from being creative, then it’s a bad thing, and that’s what I think has happened with Common Core,” Parker said. “Emphasizing tests is a recipe for failure.”