Candidate, U.S. House Colorado District 2
Joe was first elected in 2018 to represent Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming the first African-American elected to serve in Congress in Colorado history. He serves as Chair or the Subcommittee on Public Lands, and was elected by his peers to the No. 8 position in House Democratic Leadership as the Co-Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.
In Congress, Joe has worked tirelessly to serve his community and expand opportunities for the people of Colorado, working collaboratively across party lines to solve the most complex challenges of our time. In March of 2021, he was recognized by the Center for Effective Lawmaking as the most effective Colorado lawmaker and one of the Top 10 most effective Democratic members of the U.S. Congress.
Joe introduced 80 bills in 2021 — the most of any member of the entire U.S. Congress — and has had 14 of his bills signed into law (the most of any member of Colorado’s delegation), including legislation to preserve Colorado’s public lands, expand opportunities for small businesses, invest in our rural schools and mountain economies, and protect local wildlife.
Early in his tenure he was also recognized nationally for hosting the most town halls of any freshman lawmaker in the U.S. and has been consistently recognized by the Lugar Institute as the most bipartisan member of Colorado’s House delegation.
Prior to being elected to Congress, Joe served as an attorney, civic leader, and public official who spent his career fighting to expand opportunities for families across our state. Joe and his wife Andrea consider themselves incredibly lucky to call beautiful Boulder County home, where they are raising their daughter Natalie and enjoy running on the community’s amazing trails with their dog Teddy (a pug-Aussie mix).
Joe has lived in the 2nd Congressional District for over 20 years, and was honored to represent the people of the 2nd District as an elected member of CU’s Board of Regents from 2009 through 2015.
Over 40 years ago, Joe’s parents fled Eritrea, a war-torn country in East-Africa, and immigrated to the United States as refugees, eventually settling in Colorado, where he and his sister were raised. As hardworking immigrants and naturalized citizens, Joe’s parents never forgot or took for granted the freedom and opportunities the United States gave them and their children. Their experience motivated Joe to be an active participant in our democracy at an early age, and to give back through public service.
After graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder summa cum laude, Joe co-founded the state’s largest youth voter registration and mobilization non-profit in Colorado, where he expanded voter-registration efforts and helped secure secured successful passage of legislation to modernize our elections (including online voter registration and 16/17 year-old voter preregistration).
Later, while still in law school at CU, Joe was elected in 2008 by the voters of the 2nd Congressional District to serve on the CU Board of Regents, becoming only the second African-American to be elected Regent in Colorado’s history. Joe served a six-year term on the Board (which oversees the CU-System, the fourth largest employer in the state with an operating budget of $3.4 billion), including two-years as Chair of the Audit Committee. As a Regent, Joe fought to make higher education more affordable and accessible and to build consensus on tough issues, sponsoring several resolutions that received bi-partisan and unanimous support, including efforts to lower student health insurance costs and make voter registration more accessible to students, as well as working to increase wages for the University’s lowest-paid workers.
Then, following his term as a Regent, Joe was appointed at the age of 31 to lead the state’s consumer protection agency, making him one of the youngest people to serve in a state-Cabinet across the country. He led the department—an agency with roughly 600 employees and a $90 million budget—for two years, leading the fight to expand economic opportunities by protecting the civil rights of every Coloradan and strengthening consumer protections and safeguards. During his tenure the agency achieved key victories, including the recovery of millions of dollars for consumers, investigations culminating in significant financial-fraud cases, the championing of legislation to combat financial fraud against seniors, and launch of the state’s first online filing system for civil rights discrimination complaints. In recognition of his work to expand the agency’s consumer protection mission, Joe was awarded the 2017 “Consumer Protection Award” by the international Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation.
Joe’s public service is rooted in his firm belief that we should be expanding—not restricting—opportunities for all Coloradans, and he has spent his career doing the same. The opportunity to obtain a quality education, participate in our economy, and live in a safe community. To enjoy our treasured public lands. To shape our democracy. And ultimately, the opportunity to pursue your dreams in our incredible country. Joe’s belief that all Coloradans are entitled to these opportunities, shaped by his parent’s journey and experience, has been a guiding principle in his life, and he is honored to fight for these opportunities each and every day in the United States Congress.