This is a good article. Follow the link for more information.

John Kefalas

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
John Kefalas
Member of the Colorado Senate
from the 14th district
In office
2013 – January 4, 2019
Preceded byBob Bacon
Succeeded byJoann Ginal
Member of the Colorado House of Representatives
from the 52nd district
In office
January 10, 2007 – November 6, 2012
Preceded byBob McCluskey
Succeeded byJoann Ginal
Personal details
Born (1954-12-26) December 26, 1954 (age 64)
Piraeus, Greece
Political partyDemocratic
ProfessionActivist, Legislator

John Michael Kefalas (born December 26, 1954[1]) is a politician in the U.S. state of Colorado. An educator and lobbyist before first running for the legislature in 2004, Kefalas defeated a Republican incumbent to win election to the Colorado House of Representatives as a Democrat in 2006. Kefalas won election to the State Senate in 2012 and represented Senate District 14 until early 2019. In 2018, Kefalas ran for and won a seat on the Larimer County Board of County Commissioners. He resigned his Senate seat, and a vacancy committee nominated Joann Ginal to replace him.[2]


Early life, education, and career[edit]

Born in Piraeus, Greece,[1] Kefalas earned a bachelor's degree in botany[3] from Colorado State University in 1978 and then joined the Peace Corps in 1979, serving as an agricultural extension worker in El Salvador.[1] After returning to the United States, he earned a master's degree in teaching, with a secondary science specialization from Fairleigh Dickinson University[3] in 1982 and taught in the Poudre School District. He has also worked as an employment counselor for Larimer County, Colorado, and as a health outreach worker.[1]

Public service and volunteerism[edit]

From 1997 to 2004, Kefalas worked as a public policy advocate and community development coordinator for Catholic Charities[4] until his departure amidst a controversy regarding his public support for Roe v. Wade and abortion rights during his 2004 legislative campaign.[5] Before entering the legislature, he directed the Colorado Progressive Coalition's Tax Fairness Project.[6] He has served as a member of the Fort Collins Housing Authority and the Colorado Social Legislation Committee,[1] and, in 2001, won the City of Fort Collins Human Relations Award.[7]

From 1980 to 1994, Kefalas redirected a portion of his federal income taxes to charitable organizations[8] as a protest against United States military actions in Central America. He has paid his income taxes in full since 1994, but continued to boycott the federal telephone excise tax as recently as 2004. As a result, Kefalas has had a lien filed him and has had wages garnished. Kefalas has paid his back taxes and considers his actions to be a conscientious protest.[9] He has also written about his experience of "war tax resistance" for the newsletter of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee.[10] In both his 2004 and 2006 legislative campaigns, Kefalas was accused of avoiding his federal tax obligation, both by his Republican opponent and by independent political committees.[11][12] Kefalas has also been an outspoken opponent of the Iraq War, and has engaged in non-violent civil disobedience in protest of the war.[9]

Kefalas is married; he and his wife Beth have two sons — Harlan, an active-duty U.S. Army soldier who has served in Iraq, Kosovo, and Afghanistan,[13] and Timothy, the coach of the Colorado State University ultimate frisbee team.[1][6]

Legislative career[edit]

2004 and 2006 campaigns[edit]

Kefalas first ran for the state legislature in 2004, winning the Democratic Party primary by only seven votes over Fort Collins councilman Bill Bertschy after a recount process that lasted for several weeks.[14] Kefalas lost the general election by fewer than 500 votes to incumbent Republican Bob McCluskey in a race that also included Libertarian Party candidate Jassen Bowman. Kefalas ran unchallenged for the Democratic nomination in 2006, and narrowly prevailed over McCluskey in the general election.[15]

2007 legislative session[edit]

In the 2007-2008 session of the Colorado General Assembly, Kefalas sat on the House Finance Committee and the House Health and Human Services Committee.[16]

While in the legislature, he sponsored successful bills to encourage state purchasing of "environmentally preferable" products,[17] to allow Colorado State University to require graduate student health insurance,[18] and to create licensing standards for hemodialysis technicians.[19]

Kefalas proposed a bill to explore alternative voting systems,[19] which was defeated in committee,[20] but which led to the creation of an 11-member multi-partisan task force to study related issues.[21] Another of Kefalas' proposed bills, which would have required the Colorado Department of Revenue to regularly report on tax burdens across individual income groups, was also defeated in committee.[22]

During his first year in the legislature, Kefalas also founded the bipartisan Common Good Caucus to address poverty issues, and was a member of the Hispanic Caucus and the Diabetes/Obesity Caucus.[23]

2008 legislative session[edit]

In the 2008 session of the Colorado General Assembly, Kefalas sat on the House Finance Committee and the House Health and Human Services Committee.[24] Representative Kefalas was joined by chief of staff Anne Bellows, a legal and civil rights expert. For the 2008 legislative session, Kefalas worked with other Fort Collins legislators, particularly Rep. Randy Fischer, on bills to increase scrutiny of proposed uranium mining operations.[25][26] While one bill, which would require that groundwater quality be restored following mining operations, passed the state legislature[27][28] and was signed into law,[29] another measure, which would have created stronger public disclosure requirements for mining operations, was killed in committee,[30] but later revived in the state senate.[31]

With Sen. Ron Tupa, Kefalas was the house sponsor of legislation designed to reduce the cost of college textbooks by requiring textbook publishers to disclose costs and offer textbooks unbundled from additional materials,[32] and he sponsored legislation to allow outpatient surgery centers to establish peer review committees;[33] both bills were signed into law by Gov. Ritter.[34][35] For his support of ambulatory surgical centers, Kefalas was awarded the Legislator of the Year Award by the Colorado Ambulatory Surgery Center Association later that year.[36]

Kefalas also sponsored a bill to authorize local pilot tests of ranked choice voting methods.[37] Kefalas sponsored a bill to establish a Colorado Housing Investment Fund,[38] but withdrew the bill when proponents moved forward with a similar ballot initiative. He later expressed frustration when plans for the ballot measure were withdrawn.[39] Building on his 2007 bill to allow purchasing of "green" products, Kefalas also sponsored a measure to require Colorado governments to consider products' expected life and cost of ownership in making purchasing decisions,[40] which was signed into law.[41]

Among Kefalas' top priorities is restoring and expanding Colorado's earned income tax credit,[42] a move which met with resistance from legislative leaders in 2007 due to budget constraints.[43] Kefalas introduced a bill in the 2008 session to restore Colorado's EITC at ten percent of the federal credit,[44][45] but the bill was defeated in a House committee.[46]

2008 election[edit]

Holding office in a closely contested district, Kefalas was expected to be targeted by Colorado Republicans during his 2008 re-election bid,[47] which he formally announced in January 2008.[48] Since taking office, Kefalas sought to maintain a dialogue with constituents by leading a series of monthly "community conversations" on topics ranging from health care to mobile home parks,[23][49] and named sustainable economic development his top priority in office.[50]

Former Rep. Bob McCluskey announced his intention to run against Kefalas in February 2008, pitting the two against each other for the third time in as many election cycles[51] and creating a competitive race in what was seen as one of Colorado's "swing" districts.[52]

During the campaign, Kefalas held a fundraising advantage over McCluskey, with $60,000 cash on hand — three times as much as McCluskey — in mid-September.[53] By late October, Kefalas had raised over $100,000, about $15,000 short of McCluskey's fundraising total;[54] which included $65,000 that McCluskey donated to his own campaign.[55]

McCluskey targeted Kefalas with a direct mail advertisement blaming Kefalas and the Democratic state legislature for high gasoline prices, a tactic Kefalas dismissed as "negative campaigning."[56] Kefalas also condemned independent ads attacking McCluskey's legislative record as having "crossed the line of civility."[57] The 527 group Accountability for Colorado also spent over $50,000 in support of Kefalas' re-election,[55] including mailers attacking McCluskey's legislative record; Kefalas also expressed disapproval of these advertisements.[58]

McCluskey's bid to unseat Kefalas was endorsed by the Denver Post,[59] while Kefalas was endorsed by the Windsor Beacon and the Fort Collins Coloradoan.[60] Kefalas ultimately won a second term with about 59 percent of the popular vote,[61][62] becoming the first Democrat to win re-election in the east Fort Collins district since 1936.[63][64]

2009 legislative session[edit]

For the 2009 legislative session, Kefalas was named to seats on the House Appropriations Committee, the House Finance Committee, and the House Health and Human Services Committee.[65] Kefalas has named health care reform as his top priority and planned on introducing legislation to create a single-payer universal health care system in Colorado during the 2009 session.[66][67] The bill was introduced as a proposal to create a 23-member commission to make recommendations as to how to implement a single-payer system, and was reported favorably out of a House committee.[68][69] However, Kefalas was one vote short of the 33 necessary to pass the legislation out of the house, and in April, asked that the legislation be killed.[70]

Kefalas also sponsored the Colorado Innovation Investment Tax Credit,[71] legislation to create $750,000 in tax credits for angel investors in startup companies,[72][73][74] to increase support for job training programs,[75] and to create a Colorado Railroad Authority to begin planning for statewide passenger rail service.[76]

Kefalas also sponsored legislation to create an Economic Opportunity/Poverty Reduction Task Force,[77][78] which he chaired following the regular session.[79] The committee's objective is to develop plans to reduce Colorado's poverty rate by half in ten years, examining a broad range of issues from economic development to education to transportation to tax policy,[80] and it considered potential legislation on topics ranging from the earned income tax credit to rent control.[81]

Following the legislation session, Kefalas was the only male legislator honored with the Colorado Lawmakers Award by the Denver Women’s Commission and the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce.[82]

2010 election[edit]

In August 2009, Kefalas announced his intention to seek a third term in the legislature in the November 2010 legislative elections.[83] Kefalas was reelected with 57% of the vote.[84]

2012 election[edit]

Representative Kefalas announced that he would seek election to the state senate seat vacated by Bob Bacon. Kefalas' bid was endorsed by The Fort Collins Coloradoan and several former elected officials.[85] In the 2012 General Election, Representative Kefalas faced Republican challenger Syndi Anderson for the open Senate seat. Kefalas was elected by a wide margin of 58% to 36% with the remainder of the vote going to third-party candidates.[86][87] Senator Kefalas now represents the people of State Senate District 14.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Representative John Michael Kefalas". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 2007-03-14.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Coltrain, Nick (2019-01-04). "Fort Collins legislators seek to pursue progressive goals while avoiding voter backlash". Fort Collins Coloradoan. Retrieved 2019-01-05.
  3. ^ a b Taylor, Nate (July 3, 2008). "Changing political landscape challenges HD52 contenders". Fort Collins Coloradoan. Retrieved 2008-08-05.[dead link]
  4. ^ Chodak, Jill (25 December 2008). "Community, Coopersmith's feed the needy for Christmas". Fort Collins Coloradoan. Retrieved 2008-12-27.[dead link]
  5. ^ Olsen, Ted (August 1, 2004). "Colorado candidate: Catholic Charities fired me over abortion support". Christianity Today. Retrieved 2007-11-13.
  6. ^ a b "About John". Archived from the original on October 8, 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-14.
  7. ^ "John Kefalas". City of Fort Collins. Archived from the original on February 19, 2006. Retrieved 2007-07-13.
  8. ^ Rosa, Erin (November 14, 2006). "Caught in the question mark". Rocky Mountain Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-07-12.
  9. ^ a b Benson, Matthew (August 5, 2004). "Candidate Kefalas skips taxes in protest". Fort Collins Coloradoan. Retrieved 2007-03-14.
  10. ^ Kefalas, John (February 2001). "War Tax Resistance -- Part of the Complete Package". More Than a Paycheck: News from the War Tax Resistance Movement. Retrieved 2007-12-29.
  11. ^ Campbell, Greg (August 30, 2006). "John Kefalas alleges dirty tactics". Fort Collins Weekly. Retrieved 2007-12-29.
  12. ^ "The Real John Kefalas". YouTube. Retrieved 2007-12-29.
  13. ^ Kefalas, John (May 23, 2008). "Kefalas: War, Peace and Family Values". Fort Collins Now. Retrieved 2008-06-13.
  14. ^ "Recount assured in Colorado legislative primary". Associated Press. August 25, 2004.
  15. ^ Larimer County, Colorado. "Election Information". Larimer County Virtual Courthouse. Archived from the original on 2007-02-04. Retrieved 2007-03-14.
  16. ^ "House Committees of Reference". Colorado General Assembly. Retrieved 2007-12-11.
  17. ^ Fletcher, Amy (February 26, 2007). "Enviro purchasing bill gets preliminary OK". Denver Business Journal. Retrieved 2007-03-14.
  18. ^ Kosena, Jason (February 23, 2007). "Graduate-student health insurance bill moves forward". Denver Business Journal. Retrieved 2007-03-14.[dead link]
  19. ^ a b Darst, Kevin (January 3, 2007). "New lawmakers make debut in Statehouse session". Fort Collins Coloradoan. Retrieved 2007-03-14.
  20. ^ Anthony, Seth (May 1, 2007). "Defeated but unbowed". Fort Collins Weekly. Retrieved 2007-07-12.
  21. ^ Kefalas, John; Rick VanWie; Julie Connor (May 27, 2007). "New system would eliminate costly runoff elections". Rocky Mountain News. Archived from the original on October 1, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-12.
  22. ^ "Accountability Report #3". Archived from the original on October 8, 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-14.
  23. ^ a b "Accountability Report #8". Archived from the original on October 8, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-12.
  24. ^ "House Committees of Reference". Colorado General Assembly. Retrieved 2008-01-19.
  25. ^ Kefalas, John; Randy Fischer (September 18, 2007). "Legislators acting on residents' concerns". Fort Collins Coloradoan. Retrieved 2007-10-21.[dead link]
  26. ^ Duggan, Kevin (October 17, 2007). "Uranium mine faces mounting pressure". Fort Collins Coloradoan. Retrieved 2007-10-21.[dead link]
  27. ^ Boyle, Rebecca (April 1, 2008). "Uranium Bill Moves Forward Despite Heated Debate". Fort Collins Now. Retrieved 2008-04-03.
  28. ^ Dickman, Pamela (May 6, 2007). "Uranium mining bill goes to governor". Loveland Reporter-Herald. Retrieved 2008-05-06.[permanent dead link]
  29. ^ Staff Reports (May 20, 2008). "Gov. Bill Ritter signs uranium bill". Greeley Tribune. Retrieved 2008-06-13.
  30. ^ Villegas, Andrew (April 3, 2008). "House Ag committee says no to second uranium bill". Greeley Tribune. Retrieved 2008-04-03.
  31. ^ Boyle, Rebecca (May 2, 2008). "Inside Politics: Time is Running Out for State Lawmakers". Fort Collins Now. Retrieved 2008-05-02.
  32. ^ Anas, Brittany (November 18, 2007). "Tupa backs curbing costs for books". Boulder Daily Camera. Archived from the original on November 20, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-18.
  33. ^ "Bill Improves Quality of Care and Patient Safety" (Press release). Colorado House Democrats. January 25, 2008. Archived from the original on May 11, 2010. Retrieved 2008-02-23.
  34. ^ Boyle, Rebecca (April 4, 2008). "Inside Politics: Lawmakers Take on Boating, Booze and Obesity". Fort Collins Now. Retrieved 2008-04-10.
  35. ^ Anas, Brittany (April 8, 2008). "Ritter signs textbook bill". Boulder Daily Camer. Archived from the original on April 13, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-10.
  36. ^ "Rep. John Kefalas Named Legislator of the Year by Colorado Ambulatory Surgery Center Association" (Press release). Colorado House Democrats. 9 September 2008. Archived from the original on 11 May 2010. Retrieved 2008-10-17.
  37. ^ Ingold, John (March 25, 2008). "House bill allows voters to rank candidates on ballot". Denver Post. Retrieved 2008-04-03.
  38. ^ Kefalas, John (January 1, 2008). "Expectations high moving into new year". Fort Collins Coloradoan. Retrieved 2007-12-02.[dead link]
  39. ^ Zeveloff, Naomi (July 2, 2008). "Affordable housing activists kill their own statewide initiative". Durango Herald. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
  40. ^ "Lawmaker Expands "Green" Buying Program" (Press release). Colorado House Democrats. February 18, 2008. Archived from the original on May 11, 2010. Retrieved 2008-02-23.
  41. ^ "New Laws To Benefit Businesses and Consumers - Aug. 5" (Press release). Colorado House Democrats. July 31, 2008. Archived from the original on August 17, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-09.
  42. ^ Aguilera, Elizabeth (April 13, 2007). "Working poor seek tax credit from state". Rocky Mountain News. Retrieved 2007-07-12.
  43. ^ Kosena, Jason (June 14, 2007). "Kefalas seeks to reinstate tax credit". Fort Collins Coloradoan. Retrieved 2007-07-12.
  44. ^ Park, Brian (December 20, 2007). "Carbon Conqueror". Rocky Mountain Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-12-20.
  45. ^ Staff Reports (March 14, 2008). "Kefalas bill would restore tax credit". Fort Collins Coloradoan. Retrieved 2008-04-03.[dead link]
  46. ^ Swanson, Perry (April 2, 2008). "Measure to restore state's Earned Income Tax Credit dies in committee". Colorado Springs Gazette. Archived from the original on July 24, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-03.
  47. ^ Kosena, Jason (June 27, 2007). "Kefalas a Republican target in 2008?". Fort Collins Coloradoan. Retrieved 2007-07-12.[dead link]
  48. ^ Kosena, Jason (January 9, 2008). "Kefalas announces re-election bid". Fort Collins Coloradoan. Retrieved 2007-12-09.[dead link]
  49. ^ "HD-52: John Kefalas running for re-election". Archived from the original on 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2008-01-09.
  50. ^ Staff Reports (19 October 2008). "District 52 hopefuls respond". Fort Collins Coloradoan. Retrieved 2008-11-02.[dead link]
  51. ^ Kosena, Jason (February 15, 2008). "Kefalas, McCluskey to square off again in November". Fort Collins COloradoan. Retrieved 2008-02-15.
  52. ^ Kosena, Jason (4 November 2008). "HD 52: McCluskey looks to return to statehouse after see-saw races". Colorado Independent. Retrieved 2008-11-15.
  53. ^ Taylor, Nate (12 September 2008). "John Kefalas enjoys comfortable money lead over Bob McCluskey in HD 52". Fort Collins Coloradoan. Retrieved 2008-11-01.[permanent dead link]
  54. ^ Montero, David (27 October 2008). "Ex-lawmaker wants job back". Rocky Mountain News. Retrieved 2008-11-01.
  55. ^ a b Taylor, Nate (30 October 2008). "Candidates buckle down". Fort Collins Coloradoan. Retrieved 2008-11-02.[dead link]
  56. ^ Taylor, Nate (27 September 2008). "New ad targets Kefalas over gas prices". Fort Collins Coloradoan. Retrieved 2008-11-01.[dead link]
  57. ^ Taylor, Nate (22 October 2008). "527 ads attack McCluskey". Fort Collins Coloradoan. Retrieved 2008-11-01.[dead link]
  58. ^ Simonton, Trevor (31 October 2008). "Kefalas, McCluskey battle special interests, negative advertisements". Rocky Mountain Collegian. Archived from the original on 5 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-02.
  59. ^ Editorial Board (17 October 2008). "Post's picks in Colorado's House of Representatives". Denver Post. Retrieved 2008-11-01.
  60. ^ Norris, Wendy; Bob Spencer (3 November 2008). "State candidate endorsement watch". Colorado Independent. Retrieved 2008-11-07.
  61. ^ Kosena, Jason (6 November 2008). "Battleground HD 52 stays in Democratic hands". Colorado Independent. Retrieved 2008-11-16.
  62. ^ "Colorado Statewide Cumulative Report - 2008 General Election". Colorado Secretary of State. Retrieved 2008-12-04.[permanent dead link]
  63. ^ Boyle, Rebecca (4 November 2008). "It's Thank Yous All Around for FC Dems". Fort Collins Now. Retrieved 2008-11-16.
  64. ^ Taylor, Nate (7 November 2008). "Dem success rare in county". Fort Collins Coloradoan. Retrieved 2008-11-16.[dead link]
  65. ^ "House Democrats Unveil 2009 Committee Chairs & Assignments" (Press release). Colorado House Democrats. 18 November 2008. Archived from the original on 3 January 2010.
  66. ^ Ferrier, Pat (6 December 2008). "Kefalas to advance statewide insurance". Fort Collins Coloradoan. Retrieved 2008-12-06.[dead link]
  67. ^ Staff Reports (9 December 2008). "Kefalas readies comprehensive health-care bill". Northern Colorado Business Report. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
  68. ^ Mook, Bob (18 March 2009). "Bill to revamp Colorado health care system advances". Denver Business Journal. Retrieved 2009-12-24.
  69. ^ Hoover, Tim (19 March 2009). "Bill backing Canadian-type health plan gains in Colo. House". Denver Post. Retrieved 2009-12-24.
  70. ^ Hanel, Joe (16 April 2009). "State single-payer health-care effort fails". Durango Herald. Archived from the original on 2009-04-19. Retrieved 2009-12-24.
  71. ^ Tatti, Kristen (18 December 2009). "2009 was 'transformational' year for RMI2". Northern Colorado Business Report. Retrieved 2009-12-26.
  72. ^ Mook, Bob (8 December 2008). "'Low-budget' ideas given to legislators". Denver Business Journal. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
  73. ^ Boyle, Rebecca (4 December 2009). "Inside Politics (Part 2): Activists Color Their Legislative Agenda". Fort Collins Now. Retrieved 2009-12-24.
  74. ^ Sealover, Ed (1 September 2009). "New Colorado laws benefit tech investors, boost energy loans". Denver Business Journal. Retrieved 2009-12-24.
  75. ^ Ferrier, Pat (23 December 2008). "Northern Colorado coalition pitches work force initiative". Fort Collins Coloradoan. Retrieved 2008-12-26.[dead link]
  76. ^ Ashby, Charles (25 January 2009). "Passenger rail service bills on track". Pueblo Chieftain. Retrieved 2009-02-22.
  77. ^ Dailey, Kathryn (2 February 2009). "Bill regarding military remains now in state Senate". Loveland Reporter-Herald. Retrieved 2009-07-03.[permanent dead link]
  78. ^ Carroll, Terrance (15 March 2009). "Capitol Agendas". Pueblo Chieftain. Retrieved 2009-12-24.
  79. ^ Griego, Tina (20 August 2009). "Griego: Panel's hard knocks may open doors". Denver Post. Retrieved 2009-12-26.
  80. ^ Staff Report (27 July 2009). "Colo. task force looks for ways to reduce poverty". Summit Daily News. Retrieved 2009-12-26.
  81. ^ Paulson, Stephen K. (20 October 2009). "Colo. lawmakers consider measures to cut poverty". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
  82. ^ "Rep. John Kefalas, A Man Among Women!" (Press release). Colorado House Democrats. 3 November 2009. Archived from the original on 10 November 2009.
  83. ^ Staff Report (23 August 2009). "Front Range Briefs". Loveland Reporter Herald. Retrieved 2009-12-24.[permanent dead link]
  84. ^ "CBS Election Results". CBS Election Results. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  85. ^ "John Kefalas - Endorsements".
  86. ^ "CO - Election Results - Colorado Secretary of State".
  87. ^ "State House 2012 Election Results - Denver Post".