Will Your Life Change Under President Biden? Here’s What A Few Coloradans Told Us

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
John Maes of Denver with his Biden-Harris sign was among only a handful of people at the state Capitol in Denver, Wednesday, Jan 20, 2021, ahead of planned demonstrations later in the day.

Updated 4:00 p.m.

Joseph R. Biden was sworn into office this week as the 46th president of the United States. That means big changes could come to this country. Leading up to the inauguration, CPR News asked Coloradans how their lives might change with this new administration. From land management to minimum wage to vaccines, here’s some of what we heard.

Robert Miller, Paonia 

Miller said he looks forward to new leadership at the Bureau of Land Management, which is headquartered in Grand Junction.

“Which means the fight against the oil and gas industry that we have going on here, trying to keep it away from our schools and away from our communities and keep our air clean. I feel like that could be the most important change that we have coming up here — a BLM who is listening to us and supportive of the communities out here. And that's all the way down to some great mountain biking trails here on Mount Jumbo and Paonia, trying to work with the BLM and getting some signs up and fixing up these trails and making them complete.”

Miller said he hopes the Bureau will recommit to improving those trails, a project that he said stalled under the Trump administration.

Kathy Ireland, Grand Junction

Ireland emailed to say she’s also interested in environmental issues. 

“I am an independent with conservative leanings. Since my husband works as a geologist, I want responsible mining to continue. I do not envy Biden or Harris! Impossible to please everyone!”

Bethany Beeler, Loveland 

Last week, President Biden nominated Dr. Rachel Levine to be his assistant secretary of health. That makes Dr. Levine the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a federal office. Beeler called in to say this news meant a lot.

“This is visibility. This is representation. No longer will I feel like a cloud is over us as trans people in this nation. No longer will I have to worry about young people not being able to get the care that they need, or to be vulnerable to a 41 percent or higher rate of [attempted] suicide because they're trans. That's how Joe Biden's administration in just one way will be changing my everyday life. What a breath of fresh air.”

Tom Simbo, Aurora

Originally from Sierra Leone, Simbo became a U.S. citizen about 10 years ago. He said he hopes Biden’s policies lead to more jobs and pathways to citizenship for immigrants. He also wants the process to get green cards to be more efficient. 

“One of the things I really hope for from the Biden administration is for him to recognize and appreciate the great contributions that immigrants make to this country. Most of us are here not to beg for crumbs under the table. We’re here to work hard and make meaningful contributions. And also to provide necessary support for our people back home.”

Doug Van Berkum, Antonito 

Van Berkum and his family run the Rainbow Trout Ranch in southern Colorado. In an email, he said he’s concerned about Biden’s plan to raise the federal minimum wage.

“We hire around 40 young people each year to work on the ranch in a variety of capacities. Wranglers. Counselors. Housekeeping/waitstaff. Fly fishing/maintenance. Most are college kids and, with their tips and room and board included, make respectable money. With a $15 minimum wage, it would put us in a bind.”

Meriem Sadkhi, Denver

A lot of Coloradans have vaccines on their minds. That includes Meriem, an 11-year-old who said she hopes the new administration means in-person classes can resume for good at her school.

“I'm already starting in person, but it might shut down like it has a bunch of times. So with the Biden administration, [he’ll] deliver vaccines to different teachers and staff who are risking their lives to teach us different things so we can stay educated during this scary time.”

Phil Huntley, Longmont

Huntley said he moved to Colorado from a very conservative part of Pennsylvania about five years ago. He hopes the new administration will mean the country can start to head in a less divided direction. 

“I think that each side has been through four years of divisive language. No moments that have brought us together. You think back to George Bush and 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina where it didn't matter which party you were on or who you voted for. It just mattered that we all lived in the United States. I think we're going to get back to that without a major event happening.”

Jack Fitzwilliam, Wheat Ridge

For many, the pandemic has meant unemployment or work travel that’s been put on hold. Fitzwilliam is in that boat. Last year, he had plans to be an expedition guide in Antarctica.

“I started going through training, meeting lots of really cool people. The pandemic hit, really screwed everything up and I was really upset about how Trump handled everything and how he made it literally impossible for me to go to other places where I really needed to get training like Denmark. And, as of now, Americans aren't even allowed in Denmark and my classes got postponed and pushed off.”

Fitzwilliam added that he thinks the Biden administration’s handling of COVID-19 will allow him to get back to those classes soon. 

CPR News Executive Producer Corey H. Jones contributed to this report.