Thank you for the incredible honor and opportunity to represent Southern Colorado in the state House of Representatives. This duty is not one that I take lightly. For too long, Southern Colorado has been looked down upon by politicians from the rest of the state, and I will fight every day to be the voice of a strong and proud people.

I will work to represent all members of House District 47. Even if we do not always agree, I will put your interests above any others every time I step on the floor of the Legislature. Over the last two years, as I have traveled this vast district, I have heard from this community the work that needs to be accomplished to ensure that our community thrives.

It’s nothing less than a travesty that our classrooms continue to get left behind, as Denver and Colorado Springs area public schools thrive. I promised on the campaign trail that I would address the looming education crisis here in Southern Colorado and I'm thrilled to announce that I've been appointed to serve as vice-chair of the House Education Committee.

For the first time, a teacher from Southern Colorado’s schools will be directly shaping education policy and our kids’ classrooms; three of my own first legislative bills directly aim at Exceptional Student Services, school accountability, accreditation and teacher evaluations.

I’m most excited about my bill for career and technical education. This proposal, created for rural Title I public schools, will bring vital resources to our overcrowded, underfunded career and technical education classrooms, bringing in qualified teachers and professionals to teach students career and vocational skills and preparing them as they look to earn a living in an increasingly competitive economy.

I’m also honored to serve on the newly-created Rural Affairs committee. This committee is designed for issues unique to rural Colorado, such as agriculture, water and infrastructure. On the campaign trail, I heard time and again about the contamination and stabilization of the water supply in the Arkansas Valley, as small towns like Fowler, farmers and ranchers continue to pay the hefty price for clean water.

As your representative, I'll fight for our water supply and support the state water plan, ensuring that Southern Colorado has not only a seat at the table, but a fierce advocate for us. Further protecting our agricultural and rural interests, I'm also working on another piece of legislation that will expand the Colorado Proud program so that it will be of more use to our local farmers as they grow and develop their markets.

Finally, it's no secret that the local health care system is in distress, as an opioid addiction rocks the region, the state mental hospital is dangerously understaffed, and primary care physicians are leaving. I’m honored to work with experts on a bill to bring more health care professionals to Southern Colorado.

We have an extraordinary, unique heritage here; something that Denver just doesn’t understand — and that’s a problem. Major statewide policy decisions are being made in the Capitol that completely ignore our way of life. We are a community that solves problems, rather than merely talking about them. We work together to get the job done, regardless of any small differences.

This is the approach I will be taking with me to Denver, one to solve the problems and do the work and put aside partisan differences to make sure we get our fair share. No one believes that one person can fix the complex challenges that we face here in Southern Colorado. Real, lasting solutions to these challenges don’t happen overnight — and it will take a lot of hard work between here and there.

I look forward to sharing the progress I am making with you during the next several months as I begin my first legislative session. I will do my best to communicate what is happening in Denver and be accessible to you. I will be carrying your stories, your experiences, your lives when I step into that building, so please never hesitate to reach out, as my voice is only as strong as those I represent.

Thank you, again. I look forward to hard working for you and your family these next two years.

Brianna Buentello is the representative-elect for District 47 in the Colorado House of Representatives. To reach her, call 582-1978.