For Colorado Representative Matthew Soper, an Adventist from Delta, Colorado, public service has always been a calling. After winning the election in 2018, he represents District 54 in the Colorado House of Representatives.
Growing up under the tutelage of his parents and great aunts and attending fifth through eigth grade at the Adventist school in Delta, he learned to love God and to have compassion for fellow humans. He also developed a passion for public service. He believes these experiences gave him the foundation to become an effective state legislator.
Soper studied political science at Colorado Mesa University before earning his law degree and a master’s degree in public international law from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. He went on to earn another master’s degree in intellectual property law from the University of New Hampshire.
Soper says he believes that studying law in both the U.K. and the U.S. helped tremendously. “Surprisingly few members have law backgrounds,” he explains. “And having a deep knowledge of legal history and law has proven useful in legislating key pieces of criminal justice reform.”
Soper explains that because of his Adventist background, he understands the importance of religious liberty and takes steps to ensure its protection. He blocked an amendment that would allow Sundays to be exempt from bail setting hearings and pushed for an amendment that prevents state agencies from collecting specific religious information on people who have been granted a vaccine exemption based on religious faith.
“Advocating for religious liberty is part of my role,” he explains.
Soper also says Denver is not as caught up in partisan politics as other parts of the country. Often, he finds himself debating a colleague on the floor in the morning and then co-presenting a bill in committee with the same colleague that afternoon.
“Getting to know not only your side of the aisle, but the other side [as well] helps to build bridges. A sense of humor also helps,” he says. “Politics is about personal relationships, and members can respect each person.”
While he doesn’t make a habit of talking about his religious faith, he does try to schedule political activities outside the Sabbath hours. “That doesn’t always happen,” he explains, but for him, “attending church is important, as it sets the tone for the coming week and helps me refocus my thoughts as well as spend time with my church family.”
He also finds time for God during his 15-minute walk to and from the Capitol. He says he spends that time in prayer.
Soper credits his parents with his success in Colorado politics, as they have always been encouragers, and they keep him in their prayers. “My parents have been supportive and very proud of my successes in politics,” he adds. “They knew from an early age that my life was angling toward a political career.”