State House candidate fights Initiative 100

Fitting that the subject line on the e-mail from former Vail ski bum and Eagle County Commissioner James Johnson Jr., now a Denver resident and a state House District 2 Democratic primary candidate, read “Dude, where’s my car?”

In the 1990s, Johnson, who was cleaning condos for a living when he shocked his opponent, Vail real estate magnate Rod Slifer, by winning two terms as the only African-American commissioner in Eagle County history. He is now with the Colorado Progressive Coalition and seeking support to help defeat Denver’s Initiative 100 targeting immigrants.

“We are looking to educate voters about the Denver ‘vehicle confiscation’ initiative that will be on the primary ballot Aug. 12,” Johnson said in his e-mail. “The proponents are targeting undocumented people … and of course this could lead to additional racial profiling in Denver.”

Initiative 100 would require Denver police to impound cars driven by people who don’t have valid driver’s licenses, and the owner of a vehicle would have to post a $2,500 bond to ensure no one else drives the vehicle without a license in the next calendar year.

The Denver City Council this week opposed the initiative that’s on the August ballot 10-1, saying the federal government needs to reform immigration laws, and now it’s up to Denver voters. People interested in fighting the initiative can join Johnson and and the Colorado Progressive Coalition from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at their 16th and Downing offices for a canvassing session. Call the Colorado Progressive Coalition at (303) 866-0908 for more info.

Johnson faces incumbent state House Rep. Mark Ferrandino in the Aug. 12 Democratic primary for House District 2.

is an award-winning reporter who has covered energy, environmental and political issues for years. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Denver Post. He's founder of Real Vail and Real Aspen.

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