Denver Post Endorsement: Brittany Pettersen for Congressional District 7

In the Colorado District 7 House race, Pettersen would bring specific actionable ideas to Congress

For those seeking centrist candidates, hoping to avoid the extremes of progressive spending programs on the left or the election-fraud boogeymen on the right, the U.S. House District 7 race may not be a comfortable vote.

But there is a correct vote — Brittany Pettersen.

Pettersen, a state senator and Democrat, is facing off with political newcomer Erik Aadland, a Republican and veteran, for the 7th Congressional District. The district, spanning the northern portion of Jefferson County north and east into Adams County, has been represented for seven terms by Democrat Ed Perlmutter, who is retiring.

Pettersen brings 10 years of experience working as a state lawmaker. We hope she will take her passion for solving issues with actionable legislation to Congress, but also remembers her ideas take money.

She is a champion for the underserved. Petterson sponsored the state’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, which brought greater transparency to job postings and wages, and she helped pass Colorado’s Red Flag law. She fought for the Secure Savings Act that created a state-managed Roth IRA retirement system to help the estimated 940,000 workers whose employers do not offer a 401k savings plan.

Pettersen’s experience and focus will make her an effective legislator at the national level. She is brimming with specific, actionable ideas for how to tackle the fentanyl crisis and how to help students afford college. She wants to fix small things like allowing students whose parents have failed to pay taxes to be eligible for federal student loans.

A native Coloradan, she grew up modestly in Jefferson County. She is open about her mother’s struggle with addiction, resulting from a back injury when Brittany Petterson was only 6. Pettersen said she wants to push for Medicaid to cover addiction treatment, including eliminating waiting lists for programs and increasing the length of time that the insurance covers detox and addiction treatment.

Aadland is a West Point graduate and served as an Army captain with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning two bronze stars. After leaving the military, he served as a project manager for Noble Energy and obtained a master’s degree in psychology with a focus on helping fellow veterans.

His top priorities are reducing inflation and stemming the flood of fentanyl coming across the southern border. He said he would accomplish the first by reducing federal spending and the second by increasing border security. Aadland has been most critical of a bipartisan bill Pettersen voted for in 2019 that reduced criminal penalties in Colorado for the possession of small amounts of drugs, including fentanyl.

Pettersen led the way last year to add penalties back to fentanyl possession in an effort to strike a balance between not criminalizing addiction and recognizing that extremely small amounts of fentanyl can kill a large number of people. The bill did not go nearly far enough for some, but we felt it struck a good balance.

Our concerns about Aadland representing District 7 cover both his policies and his rhetoric. He opposes Red Flag laws and opposes a national effort to protect a woman’s right to abortion (he also said he would oppose all national bans on abortion). And, he has been willing to contribute to the misinformation about the validity of the 2020 presidential election.

Aadland did not cast aspersions on the 2020 election during his endorsement meeting and talked of his desire to help bring America back together. But in a video posted by a Jefferson County Republican group and later removed, Aadland said the 2020 election was “absolutely rigged” and tells the audience, “if you do enough looking into it, I think you will be convinced.” The entirety of Aadland’s statements were not available, but Colorado Newsline preserved edited clips of the video online.

“Both parties have called into question the integrity of our elections over several elections cycles,” he said. “We have got to make sure Americans have confidence that their votes count.”

In short, we agree with Pettersen’s assessment of the need to tread carefully politically: “I think the demonizing of others is incredibly unproductive, but there are also very big threats and risks with certain individuals being in positions of power.”