RTD board candidate’s guilty plea in 2008 public benefits theft case could mean she’s ineligible to hold the job under the Colorado constitution, The Colorado Sun, 11/4/18
Statement Regarding the Legal Eligibility of Ms. Shontel Lewis to Serve on the RTD Board of Directors
November 5th, 2018
The crimes of embezzlement of government funds and theft from the vulnerable are very serious and should give voters pause. Yet I want to be clear: I believe in second chances. I understand Ms. Lewis was going through a difficult time in 2008 and I cannot imagine the pain of losing a partner. My heart goes out to her.
I grew up poor and our family was often in need of public assistance. When I was a young single parent, I lived in income-restricted housing and worked with children with disabilities. My lived experiences make this news particularly hard to deal with. Above all, I am devastated at the potential disenfranchisement of District B voters and I am sad for the victims and their friends.
This was not a victim-less crime. Some of these victims are constituents in this district. One victim is an elderly gentleman who was part of the Gang of 19. This group of transit riders with disabilities put their lives on the line to protest RTD’s inaccessible buses. Because of them, RTD retrofitted all buses with wheelchair lifts.
Per Colorado law, any voter residing in the district can issue a challenge to certified election results. Our campaign has retained legal advice and we believe that Ms. Lewis’ theft was a crime of embezzlement of public funds. It is our belief that Article XII, Section 4 of the Colorado Constitution prohibits Shontel Lewis from serving in public office.
While I do not believe she is Constitutionally eligible to serve as our Director, a legal challenge is not an expense our campaign can afford. I have also been the target of intense harassment since the story broke. A divisive court battle carries an additional risk I am not willing to expose my son to at this time.
As a voter in this District and a candidate for this office, I have forgiven Ms. Lewis and I wish her the best. In a time where our country has been torn apart by partisan battles and hatred of our neighbors, I hope that I have run my campaign in the way I want to serve: To walk humbly and keep an open door.
This campaign is supported by people of all faiths, backgrounds, political affiliations, and walks of life. Running for office has been a privilege second only to being a parent, and I want to thank everyone who has been with us on this journey. Equal access, transparency, and civil rights are issues I have campaigned on and will remain our focus for the next 24 hours.