State legislatures across the country have been instrumental in protecting our voting rights and secure elections — or undermining them, safeguarding women’s reproductive health rights — or eliminating them. They have worked to protect our environment, or not. With frequent impasses at the federal legislative level and a reactionary Supreme Court, state legislatures are more vital to our lives and our democracy than ever.

In Colorado, we have been well served by our state legislature and elected officials. Our elections have been fairly managed and kept secure. Access to voting is made simple and convenient. Women’s reproductive health has been preserved. Environmental protections are prioritized.

What can we do to ensure we continue to have the same or better work done on our behalf? We can support the right candidates this year and vote for them. It is best to take advantage of early voting as soon as mail-in ballots arrive. If you choose to wait, be sure to get your ballot in before or on Election Day — Nov. 8.

The redistricting that was based on the 2020 Census has drastically changed state house districts, including ours — State House District 58. By default, in this newly reconfigured district, we have an incumbent who could be our representative, or we can support a man who is new on the scene.

As I compare the two possibilities, the clear choice is the new guy, Kevin Kuns. He has the background to understand the needs of all the constituents of the District. Kevin has lived and worked on a family ranch in Wyoming, and he grew up surrounded by educators. His professional career was in the business world. Kevin has a broad background. His understanding of Western Slope issues is personal and deep.

Kevin is well versed in the overlapping issues of water, agriculture, water-reliant recreation and environment. He supports all aspects of women’s health care — and all health care, including mental health. Education and affordable housing are core issues for him. Protecting voting rights, supporting veterans and ensuring the public safety are other key concerns that candidate Kevin Kuns speaks to, demonstrating his values align with those of the people of the 58th State House District.

I encourage every voter to learn about him and find an opportunity to meet him. Kevin visits locations across the district often. He wants to know your concerns.

Laurie Gery, Gunnison