Brianna Titone has a long history of service and helping others, and she’s not slowing down anytime soon.
At 16, she became a volunteer firefighter and won an award for her outstanding effort. Titone took that passion for public service even further when she attempted to become an FBI agent. Though she ultimately didn’t make it through, she still wanted to find a way to get involved in the government. Politics felt like a good fit.
So, she began pursuing political activism. She was elected as a delegate at the County Assembly for Bernie Sanders in 2016 and elected secretary and treasurer of the LGBTQ Caucus in August of 2017.
“My heart has always been with the community,” she told OUT FRONT.
Now, Titone is a geologist and volunteer hoping to become the first transgender member of the Colorado legislature as she runs for House District 27—facing off against Vicki Pyne.
If she snags a seat at the Capitol, Titone has some big ideas she wants to set into motion.
Much of Titone’s political career thus far is centered around ending the use of conversion therapy on queer minors in her municipality.
“Conversion therapy is an important issue for promoting acceptance for LGBTQ kids,” she explained. “If they are subjected to conversion therapy, they have a high risk of suicide and depression. I want to have all kids grow up without problems that will haunt them their entire lives.”
After seeing the bill that would ban conversion therapy repeatedly get shot down in the House, Titone realized they needed to take a different approach. In addition to standard testimony, Titone worked to have municipalities sign, saying they didn’t want conversion therapy and adding a direct voice of the people to the testimony.
“This issue was something that we had the ability to actually do something about, which made it something we didn’t have to focus on at the Capitol but to bring a grassroots approach to the problem,” Titone said. “We wanted to reach out to communities outside the LGBTQ community to inform them of what they might not be aware of.”
Pushing for the ban on conversion therapy isn’t the only way Titone is looking to help our youth.
“Education is the foundation to the future, and we need to give all kids the same opportunities to succeed. If we aren’t able to educate the next generation, we can’t expect the future to be as prosperous as it could be.”
Titone wants to increase education funding to help take the financial burden and stress off of teachers and parents and to improve the future for all students.
“We are asking parents and teachers to supply things for the classroom, which is an unnecessary burden, especially for families with low incomes,” she said. “Directly linked to education funding is teacher pay. If you don’t have great teachers doing the work, the funding won’t matter. We have a shortage of teachers, and the ones we have are underpaid. This results in them having to take another job and the burden of financial issues like sky-high housing costs and student loan payments. They aren’t able to effectively do their job, and students are taking notice.”
Transportation and Affordable Housing
As more and more people come to Colorado, affordable housing and transportation are becoming bigger issues. Amongst the reasons Titone cites for the affordable housing crisis, TABOR is the biggest. TABOR, or Taxpayers Bill of Rights, incentivizes communities to build luxury housing, as they stand to gain more tax revenue from it. Titone believes getting rid of this amendment will improve things:
“We need to review and repeal this amendment and replace it with language that affords legislators the power to govern responsibly,” Titone said. “After 25 years, no other state has such a law because they have seen the repercussions it has caused.”
Transportation funding is also impacted by the TABOR cuts. In Titone’s opinion, we need to be looking more to the future as we design future transportation projects.
“As a geologist, I have a more long-term view of things; it’s part of my discipline. We need to meet with city planners to see where new light rail lines can be placed and be aware of how that fits with development.”
This future focus is also necessary for residential areas.
“The municipalities aren’t thinking of roads when they let developers build tons of new houses. Most houses don’t have just one car, so it doesn’t make sense to build as if they do.”
Gun violence and gun control are another two, hot button political issues. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there were 253 mass shootings in 2018 from January 1 to September 12. Due to her aforementioned attempt to become an FBI operative, Titone is a gun owner and a concealed-carry permit holder. She believes that we can improve firearm safety without infringing on people’s Second Amendment rights.
“A lot of reasonable things put forward last session were killed that could be brought back, such as the ban on bump stocks and the red flag bill.”
Titone also believes that licensing renewals need to be more strict when it comes to training. Currently, concealed-carry holders are required to renew their training every 10 years but can renew their permits every five years, meaning training doesn’t automatically have to be renewed to renew a concealed-carry permit.
“Before I went to the sheriff’s office to renew my permit, I redid my training,” Titone said. “Not because I have to, because I didn’t with current laws, but because I want to set a good example.”
Training isn’t the only thing Titone thinks should be stricter.
“I think that parents of kids who use their guns to commit suicide or hurt others should face some kind of ramification for that, because it’s their responsibility to keep their guns away from kids. If you need to be incentivized by the threat of going to jail, keep your gun locked up.”
Unions and Living Wages
Titone is in support of unions and efforts to provide living wages for all of Colorado’s workers.
“It’s been shown that when union wages go up, wages for everyone else also go up. Unions have taken a lot of hits over the past few years and so have wages; it’s a direct correlation.” she said.
Titone believes that strong unions are key to getting workers fair wages when it comes to big companies who are receiving tax breaks that should allow them to pay their workers fairly, and she has an alternative in mind for small businesses.
“Unions can be prohibitive to smaller businesses being successful, so instead they should look at being employee-owned. When businesses are owned in part by their employees, the employees are more invested. I worked for a company like this, and my coworkers and I all put out great work. It just makes for happier employees.”
Jared Polis has talked about finding ways to incentivize more businesses to try this approach, and Titone hopes to work with him on it.
“It’s sad when corporations put profits before people.”
Net neutrality is now officially gone, but Titone wants to introduce a bill to have it reinstated in Colorado. This past summer, she worked with Representative Chris Hansen on just such a bill. She also made it the focus of a research paper for her master’s degree, studying the impact of policy and response to reintroducing net neutrality after it was removed.
“The biggest problem we have now is that some municipalities aren’t allowed to have their own infrastructure,” Titone said. “[Because of Senate Bill 152] they have to opt out if they want to be able to provide internet or cable to their citizens.”
Titone believes that the state government should work with the municipalities to build their own infrastructure and create competition for existing private Internet Service Providers, or ISPs.
“Where I live, there are only two choices for ISPs, which is ridiculous since I live in the metro area. Citizens and businesses should have choices when it comes to ISPs.”
As a hydrologist, Titone believes we can be doing a lot more when it comes to water conservation.
“A lot of the water we get here comes from the Western Slope. We’re the biggest consumer of that water, but we can do more to conserve it. Most of it goes to watering grass, which is ridiculous for the arid climate we live in.”
She would like to see more work with urban farming initiatives, turning warehouses into hydroponic farms to grow crops which could be sold.
When asked if this could be controlled to prevent price gouging, Titone said, “If we gave grant money or loans to entrepreneurs to help with initial start-up costs, it could help urban areas, especially food deserts. We have a lot of innovative people in Denver. I want to attract some of those people to think bigger and work towards using their expertise to solve a public need.”
All of these issues make up Titone’s platform, but there’s one more thing she wants the people of Colorado to know about her.
“What I’ve been trying to emphasize with people I talk to at the doors is that their stories, experiences, and ideas are important. I don’t have all the answers, but I seek them from the voters, and people really appreciate that. They feel like they haven’t been heard, and that the government has let them down. I’m trying to change that.”
This article originally states that Titone was facing off against Lang Sias, the incumbent candidate who dropped out, rather than Vicki Pyne.