Lesley Smith, an at-large University of Colorado regent, announced on Thursday she would not seek reelection to a second term as regent, and instead would be launching a campaign for the open House District 49.
A retired scientist, educator and board member of the Boulder Valley School Board, Smith has served as a regent since 2019, where she won by a 9-point margin.
“As your next state representative, I will fight to protect our climate and our public lands,” she said in the announcement on her website. “I will prioritize education, affordability, environment and take a scientific and progressive approach to our pressing challenges.”
Smith graduated from University of California Santa Barbara in 1980 and later went on to earn her doctoral degree from the University of Maryland. She began her career at CU in 1989 when she worked as a visiting scientist fellow through CU Boulder’s Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences. She got her start in local politics after being appointed to serve on the City of Boulder’s Water Resources Advisory Board, where she advised the city on how to rebuild the city’s water infrastructure.
District 49 is a wide and largely rural district, covering parts of Boulder, Larimer, Gilpin and Clear Creek counties. It’s currently represented by Rep. Judy Amabile, who won the majority Democratic district in the 2022 midterm election by more than 30 points. Amabile announced back in January that she is running for Senate District 18 in 2024, which is up for grabs as Sen. Steve Fenberg is term-limited.
Smith is the first candidate to announce her run for the seat, and has received several endorsements from various former CU regents, BVSD school board members and mayors, including current Boulder Mayor Aaron Brockett.
“Lesley Smith is a dedicated public servant for our community, never afraid to tackle a tough issue,” he said in a statement. “As a representative, I know she will work hard to protect our climate and champion public education. I am proud to support Lesley for HD-49.”
Other notable endorsements include State Rep. Brianna Titone, Fort Collins Mayor Jeni Arndt and former Democratic Party Chair Pat Waak.
The Board of Regents currently holds a 5-4 Democratic majority, after Regent Mark Vandriel narrowly won his race in the newly created Congressional District 8.
More information can be found at LesleyforCO.com.
Contact CU Independent Managing Editor William Oster at William.Oster@colorado.edu.