1. In 2021, accidental fentanyl-related deaths totaled 99 — far more than the 61 homicides in El Paso County that year. As mayor, how would you respond to this deadly epidemic?
As mayor, I will address this crisis in three vital ways.
- Education - The school districts are asking for help with the crisis, and the city possesses the platform to get the word out about the deadly nature of this drug. I will engage the school systems as not just a distribution channel, but as advisory experts who see the tragic impacts of fentanyl first hand.
- Enforcement - Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin. Colorado must send a message of zero tolerance for distribution. I will align with the DA and law enforcement to beseech state lawmakers to increase penalties for distribution of fentanyl.
- Treatment - I will support treatment options and mental health care to help addicts recover, thereby reducing fatalities.
2. Specifically, what do you see as the roles of law enforcement, prevention, treatment, and/or harm reduction?
- Law enforcement - Dealers of illegal drugs are ground zero, therefore, I will equip our first responders with the right tools to deter the sale and distribution of fentanyl, getting dealers off our streets and out of our schools.
- Prevention - I will work with area school superintendents to promote education in our local schools with a focus on students and parents. I will collaborate with medical professionals to educate patients on the risks of fentanyl.
- Treatment - Treatment must be accessible and available for residents of any socioeconomic status. However, because fentanyl addiction disproportionately impacts the homeless population, I will partner with local providers to ensure the right services are available to address the root issues.
3. How would you keep Colorado Springs youth safe from fentanyl? How would you collaborate with Denver Public Schools and other youth-serving organizations on this issue?
- Colorado Springs youth need to know the dangers of the drug and understand the likelihood that any street drug will have unknown amounts of fentanyl – making every illegal drug potentially fatal. I will direct internal and external resources to the city to create intentional awareness campaigns similar to the DEA’s “One Pill Can Kill” campaign.
- Restart the Youth Advisory Council to Law Enforcement, a forum for high school juniors and seniors to advise the police chief and help to address youth issues, including drug use.
- I will also seek to increase penalties on dealers who target minors. Schools and youth organizations are asking for help on this issue and my administration will give it.
4. What is your position regarding last year’s fentanyl possession debate in the Colorado General Assembly and the resulting law? The law authorizes felony charges for possessing more than one gram of fentanyl, down from the previous four-gram felony threshold. Do you support this 2022 law or would you have preferred a different approach? Please explain.
I support the 2022 law and high penalties for selling fentanyl. Many states have increased penalties for possession of fentanyl. The bipartisan nature of these laws indicates the significant need to make changes to how we view and prosecute fentanyl dealers.
However, this epidemic cannot be solved with laws alone. We need a comprehensive approach focusing on all three pillars (Prevention, Treatment, Enforcement). We will accomplish this through alignment with local schools, healthcare providers, and law enforcement.
I will partner with state policymakers to enact laws that effectively discourage and reduce fentanyl distribution while partnering with nonprofit providers to expand education, substance abuse treatment and mental health care.