Debbie Stafford

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Debbie Stafford
Member of the Colorado House of Representatives
from the 40th district
In office
October 26, 2000[1] – January 7, 2009[2]
Preceded by Gary McPherson[3]
Succeeded by Cindy Acree
Personal details
Born (1953-04-05) April 5, 1953 (age 64)
Rapid City, South Dakota
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Bob Edison
Profession Minister, Domestic Violence Counselor, Auctioneer

Debbie Stafford (born April 5, 1953[4]) is a Colorado legislator. First appointed to the Colorado House of Representatives as a Republican in 2000, Stafford was elected four times to represent House District 40, which encompasses Elbert County and rural Arapahoe County east of Aurora, Colorado.[5] Noted for her work on animal welfare and children's issues, Stafford left the Republican caucus and joined the Democratic Party in October 2007.

Early career[edit]

Born in Rapid City, South Dakota[4] of Lakota Sioux descent,[6] Stafford graduated from the Pikes Peak Institute of Medical Technology in 1972 and worked as a medical and optometric assistant in Colorado Springs before attending Nazarene Bible College from 1973 to 1974.[7] An ordained minister,[8] she served as associate pastor of Calvary Temple and Heritage Christian Center from 1986 to 1989[7] before becoming a domestic violence counselor in the 1990s.[4] In 1997, Heritage Christian Center founded Project Heritage, a community nonprofit serving the needy; Stafford has served as the chair of Project Heritage's Board of Directors.[9] She also earned an associate of arts degree from Aspen College in 1992.[4]

In 2001[7] Stafford became a trained auctioneer,[8] and she has employed her auctioneering skills during nonprofit fundraisers during her time as a legislator.[10][11] Stafford has three children—Matthew, Melissa, and Rebekah;[4] she was widowed during her first legislative campaign in 2000[7] and has since remarried[12] to retired Defense Intelligence Agency employee Bob Edison.[11]

Legislative career[edit]

Stafford first ran for the Colorado State House as a Republican in 2000.[4] Shortly before the November 2000 election, retiring Rep. Gary McPherson died in an airplane crash, and Gov. Bill Owens appointed Stafford to the remainder of McPherson's legislative term.[3] She was sworn in as a state representative on October 26, 2000, and was elected to a full term in the legislature just a week later.[1] Stafford was re-elected in 2002, 2004, and 2006, always by a considerable margin in the solidly Republican district.[5]

In the legislature, Stafford's priorities have included legislation on animal issues, including strengthening animal cruelty laws[13][14] and opposing local bans on particular dog breeds.[15][16] She has also been an advocate for children's issues,[8] working to expand benefits in Colorado's foster care system[17][18] and serving as a legislative advisor to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children,[15] and for affordable housing, as a member of Board of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Topeka and as chair the Colorado legislature's Affordable Housing Task Force.[19]

Although Stafford holds traditionally conservative views on issues such as abortion, stem cell research, and school vouchers, Stafford has also crossed the aisle to support measures to end Colorado's death penalty and prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.[20] In 2007, she also faced opposition from many in the Republican Party for supporting a contentious bill to expand the ability of homeowners to sue over construction defects.[8]

In October 2007, Stafford announced that she would switch party affiliation from Republican to Democrat, citing poor treatment from Republican leaders,[20] and noting, "I am not leaving the Republican Party as much as the Republican Party left me." She was welcomed by the Democratic legislative majority as the 40th member of the House Democratic Caucus. In switching parties, she became the first Colorado legislator to do so since 1987.[8] When she switched political parties, ( in the middle of her term ), she described herself as being treated like " a battered women " in the Republican party. This drew sharp criticism from both Democrats and Republicans with some of her constituents questioning her mental health.

In the 2007 legislative session, Stafford served as a member of the House Health and Human Services Committee and the House Judiciary Committee.[21] Although she briefly explored a run for the Colorado State Senate, Stafford has indicated that she will retire from the legislature after the 2008 session. Her stated priorities for her final session in the legislature include regulations prohibiting disposal of dead animals in landfills. Stafford has also introduced legislation to regulate the funeral industry, including new requirements that funeral directors be licensed;[22] she sponsored a similar measure in 2006 that was vetoed by Gov. Bill Owens.[23]

Having joined the majority party, Stafford was named vice-chair of the House Judiciary Committee in the 2008 legislative session, in addition to keeping her seat on the House Health and Human Services Committee.[24]

In the 2008 legislative session, Stafford planned to sponsor legislation to regulate hunting in Colorado, requiring that hunters must allow hunted animals opportunity for a "fair chase."[25] The measure was opposed by some wildlife ranchers.[26] Facing opposition from hunters and ranchers, Stafford asked for the bill to be killed in committee.[27] Stafford also introduced legislation to restrict the ability of toll road companies to claim land within proposed road corridors,[28] legislation killed in a house committee for its possible effects on railroads.[29]

Stafford also sits on the Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council, a position she will hold through July 2010.[30]


  1. ^ a b "House Journal - January 10, 2001" (PDF). Colorado General Assembly. Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  2. ^ "House Journal - January 7, 2009" (pdf). Colorado General Assembly. Retrieved 2009-01-09. 
  3. ^ a b "Owens Appoints Debbie Stafford to fill Vacancy Left by the Death of Rep. Gary McPherson" (Press release). Office of the Governor. October 26, 2000. Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Representative Stafford". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  5. ^ a b "State House District 40". COMaps. Retrieved 2007-11-10. [dead link]
  6. ^ Capriccioso, Rob (6 June 2008). "State apology could spur federal action". Indian Country Today. Archived from the original on 2008-06-09. Retrieved 2008-06-14. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Debbie Stafford - Colorado - State House District 40 candidate". Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Brown, Jennifer (12 October 2007). "GOP's Stafford switches parties". Denver Post. Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  9. ^ Groski, Eric (25 October 2006). "The gospel of prosperity". Denver Post. Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  10. ^ Paricio, Pam (25 September 2006). "Git motivated! Ron Heagy joins SPIN Round-up". Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  11. ^ a b Suicide Prevention Intervention Network (September 14, 2007). "5th Annual Prevention Round-up". Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  12. ^ "2007 Legislative Directory". Colorado General Assembly. Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  13. ^ Sealover, Ed (March 26, 2007). "Bills about animals often get fur flying in the Legislature". Colorado Springs Gazette. Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  14. ^ Bartels, Lynn (February 21, 2007). "Measure seeks to toughen state's animal cruelty law". Rocky Mountain News. Archived from the original on July 29, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  15. ^ a b "Legislative Record". Re-Elect Debbie Stafford. Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  16. ^ Allen, Laura (April 15, 2007). "Denver's Holocaust: Call For An End To The Pit Bull Ban". Animal Law Coalition. Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  17. ^ "Gov. Ritter Signs Four Health-Care Bills" (Press release). Office of Gov. Bill Ritter, Jr. May 15, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  18. ^ Brian, Newsome; Dennis Huspeni (November 4, 2007). "Private lives, public impact". Colorado Springs Gazette. Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  19. ^ "Biography". Re-Elect Debbie Stafford. Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  20. ^ a b Brown, Jennifer (October 21, 2007). "Parting shots and wounded pride". Denver Post. Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  21. ^ "House Committees of Reference". Colorado General Assembly. Retrieved 2007-12-11. 
  22. ^ Davidson, Michael; Ed Sealover (1 February 2008). "Assembly glance". Colorado Springs Gazette. Archived from the original on 2011-05-24. Retrieved 2008-02-04. 
  23. ^ Sealover, Ed (26 November 2007). "Springs' case cited in call to license funeral homes". Colorado Springs Gazette. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  24. ^ "House Speaker Announces New Committee Assignments for 2008 Legislative Session". Colorado House Democrats. Archived from the original on 2010-05-11. Retrieved 2008-01-20. 
  25. ^ DeGette, Cara (10 January 2008). "Let the games begin". Colorado Springs Independent. Retrieved 2008-01-20. 
  26. ^ Paulson, Stephen K. (20 January 2008). "Rep. Debbie Stafford seeks to ban 'canned hunts'". Denver Post. Archived from the original on 2008-01-15. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  27. ^ Sealover, Ed; Michael Davidson (7 February 2008). "Assembly Glance: February 6, 2008". Colorado Springs Gazette. Archived from the original on 24 January 2013. Retrieved 2008-02-08. 
  28. ^ Sealover, Ed (24 February 2008). "Toll road bills debated this week". Colorado Springs Gazette. Archived from the original on 28 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-01. 
  29. ^ Sealover, Ed (7 April 2008). "This week in the Legislature". Colorado Springs Gazette. Archived from the original on 11 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-10. 
  30. ^ "Gov. Ritter Names 12 Coloradoans to Developmental Disabilities Council" (Press release). Office of Gov. Bill Ritter, Jr. October 17, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-10. 

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