Joe Salazar is beginning his third term representing House District 31, which includes most of Thornton and parts of unincorporated Adams County. He is vice chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
Rep. Salazar was the author of a new 2016 law establishing tax-free savings accounts for first-time home buyers, a step toward making housing more affordable in Colorado.
Rep. Salazar has spent his entire career making sure the rights of Coloradans are protected. In the 2015 legislative session he sponsored a bipartisan measure affirming the public’s right to record police activity — a key component of a legislative campaign to rebuild trust between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.
In 2014, Rep. Salazar passed legislation that reduced the fees an individual must pay when making a a request for public records under Colorado’s Open Records Act. He also sponsored a bill to formally outlaw court-ordered jail time for being unable to pay court fines, a practice that in previous centuries was known as debtors prison.
During the 2013 session, he sponsored a bill that updates Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act, expanding the number of employees allowed to seek damages and attorney’s fees in cases of intentional discrimination or harassment for factors including race, gender and sexual orientation.
Before being elected he was a civil rights and criminal investigator for the State of Colorado, working for the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies in the civil rights division and division of insurance.
Rep. Salazar left the division of insurance to attend law school at the University of Denver College of Law, where he became a founding member of the American Bar Association, Law Student Division, and a member of the Native American Law Student and Latino Law Student Associations.
After law school Rep. Salazar started his own firm focusing on cases involving employment law, civil rights, constitutional law and federal Indian law. He has successfully taken on many cases involving employment and constitutional issues, and was recognized by the publication Super Lawyers as a rising star in the area of civil rights and constitutional law.
Rep. Salazar is a Colorado native whose Spanish and indigenous roots in Colorado and New Mexico go back hundreds of years. His family has owned farm and ranch land in Colorado’s San Luis Valley and in northern New Mexico for generations. He was four years old when he moved with his parents to Thornton, and grew up as the city grew, attending Woodglenn Elementary, Northeast Junior High School and Thornton High School.
He lives in Thornton with his wife, Jessica. He has two daughters, Alexandra and Lili.