Colorado House Minority Leader Hugh McKean honored in ceremony – Loveland Reporter-Herald

Colorado House Minority Leader Hugh McKean was honored Thursday at a location he held dear, where he often gave unofficial tours of the building and its history, providing facts from memory down to the smallest details about the marble used in it and Granite recited.

Hundreds gathered to pay their respects to the Loveland Republican who died Oct. 30 at a memorial service and ceremony in the rotunda of the Colorado State Capitol. The ceremony included a military honor guard and formal arrival and departure ceremonies as McKean’s remains were placed in the rotunda. The tradition dates back to 1980, and family and friends said it was perfect for McKean, who loved the Capitol and the institution that held it.

The service attracted local, state and federal dignitaries in addition to McKean’s family and friends. Attendees gathered on three floors of the Capitol to watch, and an overflow room was set up for mourners to pay their respects. Speakers included elected officials from both sides of the aisle, including Weld County Commissioner Scott James, former Gov. Bill Owens, Gov. Jared Polis and Colorado House Speaker Alec Garnett.

Those memorializing McKean all remembered his ability to work with others to get things done, his emphatic laugh, signature hugs, and ending conversations with “I love you.” He didn’t let many conversations go by without mentioning his partner, Amy Parks, or his children, Hanna and Aiden.

Weld County Republican Commissioner Scott James, who headed the service, called McKean a “pragmatic, common-sense consensus builder” who was hired for public service because he could say “no” and was “comfortable with it.”

Polis, a Democrat, said McKean is always ready to raise any issue with him.

“He listened and worked with people to make Colorado a better place,” Polis said. “And Hugh knew almost everyone down here in the Capitol by name, the (Colorado) State Patrol members, the clerks, the lobbyists, the overseers. He truly loved and cared for all his colleagues. He had a knack for making everyone he spoke to feel like the most important person.”

McKean died of a heart attack three days after the age of 55. First elected to the legislature in 2016, the Loveland representative defeated a major far-right contender for the House District 51 seat in June and was set to return to the Capitol for a fourth term running unopposed in the general election.

The minority leader had been tasked with leading a fragmented Republican faction in a General Assembly with a Democratic stronghold in 2020. Prior to his time on the Capitol, McKean was elected to the Loveland City Council in 2009 and served two terms. He worked as an independent contractor and was a reservist with the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Those who have worked with McKean in Loveland also attended the service on Thursday, with Mayor Jacki Marsh recalling that the first text message she received for reelection in 2021 was from McKean. She pulled it up and looked at it again after the ceremony.

Marsh said in an interview that she values ​​McKean’s individuality and even agrees with McKean at times, despite their political differences. She did not serve with him on the city council, but worked with him on other projects, including through Habitat for Humanity.

“I have a lot of respect for Hugh,” she said. “He always kept people first.”

And when they disagreed, he always listened before speaking and never attacked her in an argument, she added.

Jody Shadduck-McNally, a county commissioner and Democrat who lost the 2016 HD 51 race to McKean, told the Denver Post that while she may not have always agreed with McKean politically, he “shared a deep love of community for our region and Larimer.” District.”

When Shadduck-McNally faced attacks based on misinformation last year, she said McKean called her and told her he was sorry it happened and that he supported her.

When Garnett, a Denver Democrat, spoke, he shared similar sentiments and told attendees a story about a time when Garnett was working on a gun safety law. McKean, who “loved his guns,” had amendments he wanted to discuss. So McKean drove to Garnett’s kid’s soccer practice where they talked about it.

“At the end he said, ‘I don’t agree with you at all. I will fight you on this issue. But I will do it respectfully,” Garnett said. “I think that’s a really important point to remember. He vigorously debated this bill in the Well (the chamber of the House of Representatives). He represented his own views, he represented his constituents, he represented his party. But he did it right.”

Local, state and federal legislators and other guests gathered in Denver on November 10, 2022 for a ceremony honoring Colorado House Minority Leader Hugh McKean in the rotunda of the Colorado Capitol Building.  McKean died of a heart attack on October 30.  (Photo by Kathryn Scott/Special to The Denver Post)
Local, state and federal legislators and other guests gathered in Denver on November 10, 2022 for a ceremony honoring Colorado House Minority Leader Hugh McKean in the rotunda of the Colorado Capitol Building. McKean died of a heart attack on October 30. (Photo by Kathryn Scott/Special to The Denver Post)

Just before Thursday’s service, Weld County Republican Rep. Mike Lynch was elected to replace McKean as minority leader, though Lynch said during his remarks that “you can’t replace Hugh McKean: father, servant, statesman, good friend.”

“You know, Hugh had a real talent for being inappropriate at the right time,” Lynch joked. “This man could break the tension in any room, any tension. He would bring us all back to being human, turning us back to the point where we all come into this building to do some good.”

That’s one of the things Colorado House Republican chief of staff Jonathan Finer will remember about his boss.

“It’s so easy to connect with him. And whether you’re a stranger on the street or a family member, I mean, it doesn’t matter who you are, he will make you feel loved and welcome and have a genuine interest in getting to know him,” he said fingers “So I’ve felt that for the past few years, and it’s devastating not to have him in my life.”

On November 10, 2022, crowds packed with local, state and federal lawmakers and other guests gather in the rotunda of the Colorado Capitol building in Denver for a ceremony honoring Colorado House Minority Leader Hugh McKean.  McKean died of a heart attack on October 30.  (Photo by Kathryn Scott/Special to The Denver Post)
On November 10, 2022, crowds packed with local, state and federal lawmakers and other guests gather in the rotunda of the Colorado Capitol building in Denver for a ceremony honoring Colorado House Minority Leader Hugh McKean. McKean died of a heart attack on October 30. (Photo by Kathryn Scott/Special to The Denver Post)

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