Politically, Romer focused on the quality and affordability of child care; improving K-12 education; reforming higher education; using technology to improve learning at all levels; making state government more efficient and user friendly; improving public safety; maintaining a healthy economy; and working with local governments and citizens to plan for and direct Colorado's rapid growth and to protect its environment.
Romer's goal was to "make Colorado the best place to raise a child," and this theme earned support from a wide range of the political spectrum. Romer was known nationally as a consensus builder on complex and controversial issues. For this he was named Public Official of the Year by Governing Magazine. In the 90's, Romer battled a Republican-dominated General Assembly to further address the needs of children, in passing the "homeless teen act" to further provide assistance to homeless teenagers.
In January 1997, Romer was elected to serve as general chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Romer served as national vice chair of the Democratic Leadership Council, and was a national co-chairman of the Clinton-Gore '96 campaign. In 1992, he was co-chairman of the Democratic National Platform Committee. He chaired the Democratic Governors Association in 1991. He also chaired the Education Commission of the States in 1994-1995, and served on the Bipartisan Commission for the Reform of Entitlements in 1993-1994.
From 1992-1993, he served as chair of the National Governors Association. In 1995, Romer was part of a bipartisan effort by the nation's governors to reform Medicaid.
A national leader in education policy, Romer chaired the National Education Goals Panel, focusing its work on preparing young children for school. As that panel's first chairman in the early 1990s, he was responsible for helping develop the first national education report card. Romer was also co-vice chairman of ACHIEVE, an effort by the nation's governors and major corporate leaders to reform education by the use of standards and assessments. In 1996, he was awarded the prestigious Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize in Education. Romer, along with then Utah Governor Mike Leavitt, were two of the key founders of Western Governors University, an innovative, "virtual university," which is available to people throughout the United States.
Romer grew up in the southeastern Colorado town of Holly and is also the owner, with one of his sons, of a chain of John Deere equipment stores in Colorado, Virginia and Florida. He helped develop Colorado's Centennial Airport, ran a flying school and owned and operated a ski area. He also helped manage his family's agricultural operations throughout Colorado for several years, and was a lawyer in Denver in the 1950s and 1960s.
Romer received a bachelor's degree in agricultural economics from Colorado State University in 1950, where he served for one year as President of the Associated Students of Colorado State University. He later received a law degree from the University of Colorado School of Law in 1952. He also studied ethics at Yale University, and was a legal officer in the U.S. Air Force.
In law, his name is associated with the anti-discrimination suit Romer v. Evans that was brought to the Supreme Court during his tenure as Governor of Colorado. Though he was opposed to the amendment to the Constitution of Colorado in question, he was forced to defend it in his position as Governor.
He and his wife, Bea, have seven children and 18 grandchildren. One of his sons is economist Paul Romer.
On July 1, 2001, he became Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, where he served for six years. On October 12, 2006, the Los Angeles Board of Education unanimously named David L. Brewer III as his successor. A May 8, 2006 Los Angeles Times article suggested naming a school after Romer. LAUSD announced that Roy Romer Middle School would open in 2008 in the eastern San Fernando Valley.
His son, Chris Romer, was elected to a Colorado State Senate seat from Denver in November 2006.