Colorado: Defining the Standards of Leadership
In the Colorado Senate chambers, seven stained glass windows hold the faces of the state's leaders from days gone by. From five of the windows, the images of mustachioed men peer somberly down: John Routt, the last territorial governor and the first state governor; two U.S. senators, Charles Hughes and Edward Wolcott; and two men of industry, David Moffat, whose famed railroad tunnel provided transportation and water to the Queen City of the plains, and Samuel Nicholson, whose mining technology revolutionized gold and silver exploration in the Rocky Mountains.
The other two windows are of women. One window contains the picture of Virginia Neal Blue, state treasurer from 1966 to 1970 and the first woman elected to a statewide office. The most recent addition to this pantheon of notables is Ruth Stockton, who served twenty-three years ( 1961-1984) in the General Assembly and became one of the most powerful women in the state as the first female chair of the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) ( 1975-1980) and the first female Senate President Pro Tem ( 1979-1980). Senator Stockton's window speaks volumes about what distinguishes the Colorado General Assembly from other state legislatures. While other states struggle to elect women legislators and every woman is in some way a first, Colorado women have established themselves not only as powerful players but as part of the basic furnishings of the legislature.
Indeed, the activities going on below Senator Stockton's window on the last day of January in 1995 are testimony to the presence of women throughout the legislature. Republican Senator Elsie Lacy, current chair of the powerful JBC, holds forth at the floor podium, providing her colleagues with a budget briefing. Down the hall in the House chambers, Republican Representative