DENVER – State Sen. Lois Court, a Denver Democrat, will step down from office on Jan. 16 after she was diagnosed in recent days with a rare autoimmune disorder.
Court, 71, is in the final year of her first term as the senator for Senate District 31 in Denver. She chairs the Finance Committee and is the vice chair of the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee and also sits on the Legislative Council.
She previously served as the House District 6 representative from 2009 through 2016 and was also formerly an aide to Rep. Andy Kerr. She also worked for former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb and has taught government at Red Rocks Community College.
Court was hospitalized Dec. 31 with muscle weakness and partial paralysis, the Colorado Senate Democrats said in a news release Monday, and was diagnosed afterward with Guillain-Barré syndrome, which affects the body’s nerves.
Senate Democrats said Court decided to step down because of the severity of the rare disorder, which can lead to paralysis, but which can be treated, and which the National Institutes of Health said about 70% of people recover from fully.
“It has been the honor of my life to serve the people of Colorado and I am deeply saddened that this chapter of my life is at a close. But I am excited by the work my colleagues are undertaking and will continue to cheer them on and be an active citizen of Senate District 31,” Court said in a statement. “I would also like to thank all of my wonderful supporters and constituents––I could have never achieved what I did without your unfailing passion and guidance.”
Court’s replacement will be picked by the Senate District 31 Committee. Rep. Chris Hansen, D-Denver, was already declared to run for the SD31 seat after Court said she would not seek re-election.
Between Jan. 16 and when her replacement is appointed, the Democrats’ majority in the Senate will be 18-16, and Sen. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, is due to have a baby in the coming weeks, which would narrow the majority to 17-16.
Sen. Angela Williams, another Denver Democrat, also announced Monday she would not seek re-election in 2020, meaning there will be two new senators from Denver for 2021.
Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, said Court was fiercely dedicated to the people of Colorado and called her “a remarkable woman whose leadership has stood the test of time.”
“We are all very grateful for her time as Chair of the Finance Committee and President Pro Tempore of the Senate—positions I always felt confident in knowing they were led by a person with such experience and dedication,” Garcia added. “We hold Senator Court in our thoughts during this difficult time and send her much healing.”
Gov. Jared Polis (D) called Court a “tireless champion for Coloradans at the capitol.”
“From the House to the Senate, she fought for fiscal reform and stood up for her constituents - no one has a clearer compass on the issues she cares about,” Polis said. “Sen. Court’s grit and effectiveness as a legislator will be missed. I wish Sen. Court a speedy and complete recovery as she and her family overcome this challenge.”