Candidate switch for Democrats in District 2 Garfield County Commissioner race |

Candidate switch for Democrats in District 2 Garfield County Commissioner race

Post Independent Garfield County elections graphic

There will be a change on the fall ballot in the Democratic Party candidate who is running for Garfield County Commissioner from District 2.

Katrina Byars announced late Friday that she is stepping aside in her bid to unseat six-term incumbent Republican Commissioner John Martin, and is throwing her support to new candidate Beatriz Soto.

“I’d like to thank Garfield County for the honor and privilege of a place on the ballot for Garfield County Commissioner this November,” Byars wrote in her Facebook announcement. “But this race is not about me, it’s about the people of this county and the need for real representation.

“This is why, with the support of Democratic Party, I have asked Beatriz Soto to take my place on the ballot this November,” she wrote. “In the history of Garfield County there has never been a Latina on the Board of County Commissioners, despite the fact that Latinos have lived here since before Colorado was a state.”

The Garfield County Democratic Party, in its own Facebook announcement late Friday, said Soto has been nominated to replace Byars on the Nov. 3 ballot in accordance with the Colorado Secretary of State requirements.

Beatriz Soto
Facebook photo

“We are thrilled to have such a qualified, intelligent and dynamic candidate as Beatriz. “She is a longtime resident of Garfield County and brings extensive experience in the areas of environmental protection, social justice, community building, and has 15 years experience in architecture and construction.”

Soto was not immediately available for comment for this story, and has not yet formally filed as a candidate with the Secretary of State’s Office.

A three-way race for the District 2 commissioner seat will now include Martin, who was elected to the seat in 1996, and unaffiliated candidate Brian Bark, who petitioned his way on to the ballot.

Garfield County Commissioner John Martin.
Brian Bark, candidate for Garfield County Commissioner District 2.
Facebook photo

Soto has worked as the Latino outreach coordinator for the Wilderness Workshop, based in Carbondale, since September 2018, and is a co-founder of the Roaring Fork Latino Network, an initiative of the newly formed organization Voces Unidas de las Montañas.

She was also the co- founder of the Latino Dems of Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle Counties, and is a member of the Garfield County Democratic Party Executive Committee as Latino outreach coordinator.

Byars was the Democratic Party nominee to run for the County Commission District 2 seat, going through the party caucus and assembly process in the spring.

Katrina Byars
Thomas Phippen / Post Independent

However, she has not been very visible as a candidate in the early months of the campaign.

She sought to dispel rumors that she was dropping out of the race in late July, writing on her Facebook page that she has been busy working to establish a safe house for young girls who have been rescued from sex trafficking.

Byars wrote in her Friday post that her decision to drop out is not for personal or political reasons. She said Soto will give voice to Garfield County’s Latino community, and on environmental and human rights issues that she also champions.

“Beatriz is a strong community organizer with a track record of building community throughout our valleys promoting progressive policies and solutions to the challenges we face today,” Byars wrote. “She will not only defend our public lands, air, water and civil rights, but she will also give a voice to thousands in our community who have gone unheard for too long.”

The District 2 seat is one of two county commissioner seats up for election in November. Three-term incumbent Republican Mike Samson is seeking re-election to the District 3 seat against Democratic challenger Leslie Robinson.

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