Updated results still show challenger Velasco winning HD57

Colorado House District 57 Elizabeth Velasco is congratulated with a hug after realizing she had taken the lead against incumbent Perry Will on Tuesday night.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

With the majority of votes now tallied, it’s likely Democratic challenger Elizabeth Velasco will win House District 57.

As of 11:42 a.m. Wednesday, Velsasco still maintained about a 9% lead over Republican incumbent Perry Will. She is right now winning the race with 18,496 votes over Will’s 15,355.

“We’re changing what candidates look like here on the Western Slope,” she said. “When you have community support, anything is possible.” 

She is a first-time runner who runs a translation and interpretation firm. She also served as a public information officer during the Grizzly Creek Fire of 2020 and was involved in opposing mining activities near Glenwood Springs.

She supports policy geared more toward green, renewable energies and diversifying the Western Slope’s economy. She also said she would partner with Colorado unions to offer things like educational and apprenticeship opportunities to help transition workforces.

Democratic Garfield County Commissioner District 1 candidate Ryan Gordon speaks with HD-57 candidate Elizabeth Velasco at the Democratic watch party at the Bluebird Cafe on Tuesday night.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

“I ran on the promise to put the people of our district first and to make our community more resilient, and I intend to keep it,” she said. “As your next State Representative, I’ll work with anyone willing to roll up their sleeves to bring down the cost of living for everyday people, and I’ll never back down in a fight to protect the freedom to make our own health care decisions or to protect us from the worst of climate change.”

Will, R-New Castle, first started serving House District 57 after his appointment in 2019. He then won re-election in 2020. He previously spent 42 years working for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Both candidates have throughout their campaigns shared many similar views on issues affecting rural Colorado. This includes water rights, offering more bilingual services throughout communities in their district, creating more avenues for affordable housing, and more.

But, where the candidates tend to split is on fossil fuels.

Will has throughout his campaign proved to be an adamant opponent of oil and gas regulations, including Senate Bill 181 and House Bill 1314.

“I bring a perspective there that was much needed. Both sides of the aisle told me that, and that’s made me proud,” he said of his time in the House. “I really would love to continue to do that, but, if the people have spoken, I believe in Democracy.”

Will said on Tuesday night that potentially contributing to his loss was his vote against the Women’s Health Protection Act, which protected a woman’s right to abortion.

“I think that some of the issue I had with some of the voters is the Democratic party attacked me voting against the abortion bill,” he said. “I wasn’t anti-abortion; I was anti that bill because it went too far.”

Republican Perry Will is running in the 2022 House District 57 race.
Courtesy Photo

He said he is particularly proud of his bipartisan approach on the house floor, he said. “I wouldn’t have had 33 bills last year if I wasn’t a legislator they couldn’t trust.

“The ‘R’ next to my name stands for Rural,” he said.

House District 57, redrawn in 2021 during congressional redistricting, covers Pitkin and Garfield counties, as well as a western portion of Eagle County. Velasco said she looks forward to helping shape a future where the American dream is accessible to everyone in the district and Colorado.

“As a new American, I hope my election proves that Western Colorado is a place where anyone can make their own American dream possible,” she said. “I look forward to working with this community to make stories like mine more common for the next generation of Western Coloradans.”

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