When Cheri Gerou hangs it up as our state representative at the end of the year, we’ll owe her a gigantic debt of gratitude for six very good years.
Gerou distinguished herself, spending most of her career as a member of the Joint Budget Committee, including making history as the first woman member of the House of Representatives to chair the JBC.
Gerou is the latest in a long line of Republican state representatives from Evergreen who represented District 25 and accurately reflected our district’s fiscal conservatism with an environmental and conservationist bent. Since Tony Grampsas was first elected to the seat in 1984, this community has been incredibly lucky to have state representatives who reflected our values, were respected by their peers, and achieved leadership positions that gave us more influence for an extended period of time than most constituents get. John Witwer, who gave way to his son Rob, succeeded Grampsas. When Rob Witwer decided against running for re-election in 2008, he thought about all the people he knew in House District 25 and recruited Gerou to run for the seat.
In a legislature where almost every member is working hard to differentiate him or herself from the crowd, Cheri Gerou quickly made her mark. Her business experience — she and her husband, Phil, run a very successful architectural firm — allowed her to play an important role on the Finance Committee. She also served as a member of the Health and Human Services Committee, where her tough and thoughtful questions helped to define public policies on many important issues.
She quickly moved to the budget committee and was responsible for crafting state budgets during the worst of the recession. She became an expert on issues throughout state government and was conversant on both the biggest issues of the day and the most minuscule things that determined whether state government could or couldn’t do its job.
She was a dogged advocate for this district, forcing tough conversations about issues involving wildfires and flooding, including pushing for concessions in governmental immunity when a controlled burn in our community got out of hand and led to devastating destruction, including loss of life.
But perhaps the most impressive thing about Cheri Gerou’s tenure has been her independence. In a world where it is difficult to break ranks with members of your own party, Gerou not only voted independently, she stood up and proudly explained why both her personal beliefs and the values of the people of District 25 compelled her to do so. During the first half of the 2013 session alone, she broke ranks with her party and voted both to provide in-state tuition to children who were brought here as illegal immigrants and for civil unions. I said at the time that while I supported both votes, they were easy yes votes for Democrats, but took a lot of bravery for a Republican like Gerou.
I wish we could have convinced Cheri Gerou to run for one last term in the House of Representatives, but we got more than our money’s worth in the six years she’s represented us. We owe her our thanks for the service she’s provided both to House District 25 and the state of Colorado, and should wish her nothing but the best as she leaves public service and returns to private life.
Greg Romberg is president of Romberg and Associates, a government relations and public affairs firm. He lives in Evergreen with his wife, Laurie, and three daughters.