Rachel Stovall has had enough. Enough poverty, enough dangerous and dilapidated housing, enough unemployment, and enough of residents being ignored.
“It is time for a new leader in House District 17; one who brings hope to the people who live here. I’m sick and tired of feel good legislation. I’m done being told what I can’t have, what I can’t do, and that it’s always been this way,” says Rachel Stovall, Republican candidate for Colorado House District 17 in Colorado Springs.
Rachel was born in 1966 in Rhode Island where she lived in a row house with her mom and two brothers. Around the age of 8, a pimp and drug dealer took over the area. Her mother scooped up Rachel and her brothers and they ran for their lives.
“It was a scene of drugs, prostitution, and domestic violence on a pretty rampant level because the pimp didn’t just beat my mom. He beat all the women he ran on our block. It was constant craziness,” says Rachel.
Her mom brought them to Colorado Springs, a place Rachel will always consider home. But even life here was no walk in the park.
Life in the Projects
Rachel’s family lived on the wrong side of the tracks in a housing project nicknamed “the pinkies” near the Fort Carson B Street gate. Rachel remembers getting bullied by some kids for the color of her skin, while other kids beat her up for daring to be on the honor roll at Harrison High School. She says she was just happy to get out of school alive.
“It was just another housing project. More drugs, gangs, crime – all between us and getting to school. We had to walk past the liquor store, the massage parlors, and the pawn shops to get there,” says Rachel. “The crime was like a tidal wave. It just quietly swept my family away.”
But Rachel’s mom was a fighter. The licensed nurse practitioner worked during the day and went to school at night to become a registered nurse and earn an associate’s degree in business. Eventually, she made enough money to buy them a house. It was a huge accomplishment for a single mom.
That hard life taught Rachel many lessons.
“I have very much a lived experience of what it is to be powerless, unsafe, traumatized, and hurt. says Rachel.
“It is time to focus the conversation on what it will take for all of us to have the economic development that this area deserves. We are the entrance to the airport. House District 17 is the jewel of Colorado Springs. I’m ready to fight for every level of government and industries and cultural makers to treat us like what we are; valuable. We are rich with human capital. We matter. And we want to be treated like that.”
When Rachel was 19, she got married and they had a son named Steven. She earned a certificate as a program director in early childhood education. Later, Rachel got divorced and did a lot of volunteer work, especially with church youth ministry. She was also a foster parent.
For employment, Rachel worked at the Christian radio station 107 FM as a show host. Her role in media led her to produce live music, interview community leaders, get involved with philanthropy, and join boards to improve Colorado Springs, including the organization known now as Educating Children of Color. The radio job also led her to true love.
Rachel was at a musical event and saw Keith, nicknamed Phat Daddy, singing Motown in his band the Phat Horn Doctors. It was love at first sight. Rachel and Keith married six months later.
Their love only grew stronger as their children grew up, they fostered other children and volunteered with the annual toy drive Christmas Unlimited, the Ronald McDonald Telethon, and a host of other causes.
“I wasn’t just in love with Keith Stovall for a year, I was in love with him for decades. I love him now, even though he’s gone,” says Rachel.
In 2021, as they were imagining a wonderful life of retirement with travel, time with grandchildren, and more public service, Keith got sick with COVID-19 and other issues and went into the hospital. Rachel says that was the beginning of the end.
While she wanted to be next to him night and day, Memorial Hospital only allowed one visitor a day for only one hour – citing the threat of spreading and contracting the virus. Rachel was not allowed to visit at all because she had been exposed to the COVID-19 that Keith contracted.
Then, Rachel heard Keith had stopped eating and hadn’t been bathed in two weeks. When the hospital ignored her pleas to see him, Rachel took to social media, and emailed and called everyone she could to demand an eyes-on welfare check. Finally, after huge public pressure, hospital workers agreed to let Rachel visit. By then, Keith’s days were numbered. one week later, Keith passed away on Father’s Day, 2021
“I held his hand, told him I loved him. And he passed. Thank God I was able to be with him. I told him, “It’s O.K. for you to go. I’ll take care of our family. I’ll take care of the things you want me to. We’re all here and we all love you.”
Rocky Mountain PBS aired a special report about Phat Daddy’s life and music career. He had served a decade in the U.S. Navy and had received many awards including Navy Good Conduct Medal, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation, the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, and the Humanitarian Service Medal. The veteran was buried at Pikes Peak National Cemetery.
His death and the fight to visit Keith in the hospital was a turning point for Rachel. She joined the Never Alone Project, which helped pass a law in 2022 that prohibits hospitals from locking out families during pandemics.
“One person has the power to make a difference. We changed the situation for other people in Colorado. It’s gratifying that moving forward, people will have the law to stand upon and demand the time to be with their loved ones, says Rachel.
“I feel this experience is redemptive in that my husband would be pleased to see us helping others, even in the midst of his death, because that’s who he was as a person.”
While Rachel had considered running for office after retirement, Keith’s death pushed up her plans. Her husband was gone, Stephen was grown, her grandchildren whom she’d been raising were almost grown, and she realized that public service should now be her sole mission.
“I had the epiphany that this is who I’ve been since I was in my early 20s. I’ve served on committees, I’ve served on boards, I’ve fostered, I’ve taken in people who were homeless, I have testified on various things before multiple city councils, I’ve spoken before county commissioners, I wrote political opinions and editorials for four years with the Gazette,” says Rachel.
“I became clear about who I am, who I wish to be, and how I want to give everything I can to the common unity of where I live, where I’ve been for more than 40 years, where people have nurtured me and where people have helped me. I want to pay it forward.”
Solve real issues. Vote Stovall.
United States Air Force Academy, Honorary Commander
YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region, Advisory Board
Colorado Springs Black Business Network, Founder and Former Vice President
Forge Evolution (Teen Court), Board of Directors
Safe Housing and Rehabilitation Outreach Network, Housing Counselor
Colorado Springs Spree, Board of Directors
The Never Alone Project – Board of Directors