Denver mayoral candidate Kelly Brough defends her values ​​after Denver 7 debate with Michael Johnston

I’ve shared over 50 debate and forum stages with Michael Johnston over the past 5 months. We can probably repeat each other’s talking points, personal stories and policies. I was frustrated by an interaction that occurred following the latest televised debate hosted by Denver 7, the Denver Post and CPR.

A few things happened in this debate – I had to correct the record when Michael again incorrectly stated my position on a law regarding law enforcement accountability, I remained silent while he answered a question posed to me, and in his closing remarks, Michael drew a conclusion about my values ​​implying that I did not fight hard enough in the “progressive battles for hardworking families”.

Honestly, at that point, I had just had enough. Michael Johnston does not speak for me.

Immediately after we went off the air, I confronted him because I won’t allow him or anyone else to take my story away from me. The challenges my family faced as a child and then as a single mom are similar to the challenges many Denver families face today. I represent working families because I come from a hard working family.

As Michael spoke for me and mischaracterized me and my values, I thought of my mother who raised me alone after my father was murdered before my first birthday. I thought about when my family was getting by and relying on food stamps and how we worked multiple times to get by. I thought about working until high school, often having a full-time job at the Dairy Queen to save enough to go to college. I thought about how hard it was to be a single mother when my daughters’ father struggled with addiction and depression, and we lost him to suicide. These experiences shaped me and my values.

I reminded Michael of my story and how offensive it is for him to misrepresent my personal values.

I was ashamed to share my life story, but now I see our strength. Most of the time, I’m proud of what my family and I have been through and what we’ve been able to accomplish. But every once in a while, someone tries to experience that feeling of shame again. I have to fight not to allow this to happen. And I won’t let people do that to families in Denver who are dealing with those same issues.

I believe there is no feeling more damaging than shame, which my family felt every time we went to the grocery store and paid with food stamps. I felt it at school when I was a young girl and my lunch ticket was a different color and it signaled to everyone that I was a “free lunch kid”. We felt it every night after dinner when the whole family worked together and cleaned the corporate offices.

Like all of us, my struggles have shaped me. And as difficult as life can be for all of us, I’m truly grateful. I feel grateful. I see the challenges many Denver families face to make ends meet today. Through many of my family’s struggles, we have relied on others, including the government, to get us through the tough times. It was our hope.


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