POR John Redifer March 22, 2009
John Redifer’s deep passion for politics began literally at the dinner table.
Growing up in the 1950s and ’60s in Baltimore, the Mesa State College political science professor said he can vividly remember his father, George, reading both of the city’s daily newspapers and then debating their contents at the dinner table.
In his 15 years teaching at Mesa State and engaging with the community, Redifer said he has worked to re-create the same environment that fostered his love of politics and governance.
“One of the big things with me is that I want to teach students to be interested in politics, to know what’s going on and to get involved,” he said.
Prior to moving to Mesa County, Redifer served for 14 years in the U.S. Army, worked as a regional manager for a mini-mart chain and obtain his Ph.D. from Colorado State University.
But, he said, it was only after he arrived in Mesa County and encouraged students to get involved in the community that he really started to take his own advice.
Redifer was a member of the Civic Forum, a local nonpartisan organization that debated issues of local import, including the expansion of the Mesa County Commission to five seats.
He also started a relationship with the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce’s legislative affairs committee, which he worked with until two years ago.
Redifer also became involved in local politics, rising to the top of the Mesa County Democratic Party after Ron Teck, R-Grand Junction, defeated then-Democrat Pete Hautzinger in a 1998 state Senate race.
Not one to sit on the sidelines for long, Redifer briefly ran for House District 55 in 2002 before pulling his name off the ballot after the more moderate Republican candidate, then-Rep. Gayle Berry, R-Grand Junction, won her primary.
Since then, Redifer has worked largely behind the scenes, including sitting on the Colorado Water Conservation Board starting in 2004.
Those who question Redifer’s effectiveness or want a glimpse of his legacy need only look at the bulletin board hanging above his desk.
From former Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., to former Congressman Scott McInnis, R-Colo., to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Redifer’s students have met and worked for some of the most powerful politicians in the state and nation’s recent history.
“The important thing to me is that they work in our community to try and bring their viewpoints forward and their desires of policy forward,” Redifer said. “I think I’ve been pretty successful at that.”Redifer also counts among his former students Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction; former Republican campaign manager John Marshall; and Colorado AFL-CIO leader Phil Hayes.