John Dirzius Retires
(This article first appeared in the January/February 2019 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
Tom Sullivan, APWU Member/Activist, Headed to the Colorado General Assembly
As a 30-year postal worker, APWU member and long-term local union leader, Tom Sullivan gained plenty of experience fighting for workers’ rights and good union jobs. After the tragic and senseless murder of his son Alex during the 2012 Aurora, Colorado movie theater mass shooting, he chose to become a politician to work for needed change.
Channeling his anguish into action, Sullivan became a victims’ rights and anti-gun violence activist. Shortly after volunteering, he realized he needed to do more. “It wasn’t enough to just be an advocate on the outside. I decided I had to be a [political] candidate and get myself on the inside,” Sullivan said.
In 2016, Sullivan ran for, and lost, a Colorado state senate seat. Not one to be discouraged, he combined his skills gained from years of union organizing and the lessons learned from the 2016 campaign. He applied them to the 2018 state elections where he challenged the Republican incumbent for the 37th District seat in the Colorado General Assembly, running on a program of good jobs, rebuilding the infrastructure and gun control. This time, he won.
The campaign took on big-money and corporate politics, using grassroots, community support tactics and what Sullivan calls “retail politics” to flip the seat.
“It’s knocking on doors, it’s making the phone calls, it’s doing the work. The work I was taught to do with my involvement with the postal workers,” Sullivan explained. “I’ve been honored to work alongside Tom since 1998,” said Aurora Local President Shelly Lucido. “When he puts his mind to something, he sticks to it and accomplishes his goals. His constituents are lucky to have him in the State House.”
Editor’s Note: During his long career as an active APWU member, Sullivan served in a number of union leadership roles, including as a shop steward and as Secretary-Treasurer of the Aurora Local.