Colorado Speaker of the House Mark Ferrandino says he “disagrees on most things” with state Rep. Carole Murray, R-Castle Rock, who recently announced she won't run for a fourth term.
But he might even disagree with her retirement decision.
Ferrandino said despite their differences, “I've worked on a lot of issues with her.
“She can talk to both sides of the aisle,” he said. “We're seeing less and less of that.”
Murray said recently she has watched her husband, a former high school principal, get into a “retirement frame of mind,” and is following his lead. “I've been a working woman for 50 years … I don't want to live by the alarm anymore.”
Ferrandino said while Murray is very conservative, she knows how to craft a deal and work across the aisle. “She has a lot of respect for the process,” said Ferrandino, who is concerned that her successor might be more of an ideologue than a “consensus, practical” type of legislator.
“She's a very well-respected legislator that you can work with even if you disagree. She works hard. She knows her information. She'll fight for what she believes.”
Sometimes she has managed to shock both sides of the aisle.
Murray — a former teacher possibly best known for her work on education reform who was named 2010 “Legislator of the Year” by the Colorado Community College System — made national news when she, a self-described “extremely conservative” Republican, voted earlier this year to support Colorado's civil unions bill.
“It took significant political courage — you don't see much political courage on both sides of the aisle — to get up and do what she thinks was (right),” said Ferrandino, who said he was shocked at her vote.
Colorado Sen. Mark Scheffel R-Parker said he didn't agree with her position, but after talking with her, he “respected her thought process” on how she came to that decision.
“I'm a Carole fan,” he said. “It was an honor to serve with her.”
Murray told the News-Press she was proudest of her 2011 role in outlawing artificial cannabanoids, the use and sale of the designer drug known as “Spice.”
“(The bill) almost died at the end of the session a couple of years ago and I was able to resurrect it.”
She said she was also prime sponsor of HB 11-1293, which repealed a tax on downloadable software passed by the Democrats the previous year. “Very proud of that one, as the tax had the potential of negatively affecting every business in the state, since it was a tax on any program that was downloaded from the Internet,” she said.
Murray was also the House co-sponsor of a bill passed in 2010, SB 191, which requires that teachers be evaluated on student performance.
Rep. Frank McNulty R-Highlands recalled her ability to work with opponents, on education and other issues. “She could dismantle labor leaders' contentions on education and then she could still go back and work with the chief advocates for status quo.”
“Carole could throw a grenade over the wall and then walk through the gate and check on the wounded,” he said.
She said she's not sure who's going to run for her seat. “I'm going to stay out of that one … With my position on civil unions I don't know if they'll want my support or not.”
Murray said her decision came down to “everyone needs to have equal responsibility and equal benefits in our society.” She said she didn't think it was government's role to make a judgment.
Murray, who is opposed to gay marriage, as marriage is a “religious construct,” said one thing that fueled her decision was that even though gay people have been adopting children for many years, there was nothing in the law that gave partners any certainty if something had happened to one of them. She said there had been cases when the remaining parent had to struggle to continue being the child's parent.
“I've no regrets,” she said, about that position.
But she regrets she won't be around to complete what she started in trying to update telecommunication laws that haven't been updated in 25 years, and make sure the Internet isn't regulated. “We don't want to pile regulation on Internet communication because it will stifle innovation,” she said.
Murray taught junior high for a couple years, and then in Douglas County was a stay-at-home mom, then an advertising manager for the Douglas County News-Press, then later Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce's executive director before running for Douglas County clerk and recorder, serving for eight years before running for the District 45 seat in 2008.
Scheffel, who grew up in Parker, has known Murray since before she was clerk and recorder, and she was involved in countless projects for the party and community.
“She refers to herself as a `change agent,'” he said. “That's true.”
Now, for another change. She wants to travel with her husband, visit grandchildren, and garden.