Garfield Dems take straw votes
Post Independent Staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Democracy was in full swing Saturday as a record turnout of Democratic delegates, alternates, candidates and staff debated, and voted ” and re-counted those votes ” at the Garfield County Democratic Assembly.
More than 120 people filled the media room at Glenwood Springs High School to hear candidate speeches, debate the party’s platform, and sign up to attend the upcoming Democratic state convention to be held May 21 in Pueblo (see box page 3).
One thing everyone in the room seemed to agree on was discontent with the current presidential administration.
“If you’ve been able to sleep during the last three and a half years, you’re not a real Democrat,” said Randy Fricke, a Basalt-based candidate running for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District.
The 3rd District race is the most crowded among the Democrats.
John Salazar of Alamosa, Grand Junction Mayor Jim Spehar and Anthony Martinez of Antonito are competing with Fricke in a run for the seat being vacated by Republican U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis. Fricke, Salazar and Spehar addressed the Garfield County crowd Saturday.
With four candidates running, delegates and alternates attending the meeting remained undecided about that race. In an unofficial poll taken at the assembly, 32 Democrats cast a vote for Salazar, 17 voted for Spehar, and 31 were uncommitted.
Other Democratic races were much easier to call. In the presidential election, 69 Democrats voted for John Kerry, while 13 voted for Dennis Kucinich. Only two delegates were uncommitted.
Among Garfield County Democrats, the race between two Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate seat, Ken Salazar and Mike Miles, was extremely close. U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, a Republican, is not seeking re-election. Ken and John Salazar are brothers.
Tabulating votes from delegates and alternates attending Saturday’s assembly gave Ken Salazar a narrow win with 40 votes to 36 for Miles.
However, among the 29 delegates who will attend the state assembly ” where the votes count ” Miles took the most votes Saturday, topping Salazar 16-13.
County Democratic party chairman Don Kaufman said polling at assemblies is not binding and that delegates can change their minds at any point. So the results can fluctuate, and did so during the course of Saturday’s meeting. Vote counts reported here were from the last polls taken.
Candidates in uncontested primary races ” Colorado State House District 61 candidate Kathleen Curry, and Garfield County Commissioner candidates Greg Jeung of Glenwood Springs and Keith Lambert of Rifle ” talked unopposed about their campaign priorities.
Curry, former manager of the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District, said she decided to run because she “doesn’t feel this district is being well-represented.”
The Gunnison mother of two, who has a master’s degree in water resource management from Colorado State University, said she will work to protect Western Slope water, and improve economic opportunities.
Following candidate presentations, the Democrats spent more than an hour debating the Democratic Garfield County platform.
Democrats attending precinct caucuses April 13 submitted additions to the platform for consideration by a platform review committee.
After culling through more than 100 proposals, the committee narrowed the platform’s focus to 21 issues.
They include the party’s take on the war in Iraq, surface owners’ rights regarding oil and gas drilling, and support of universal health care. The platform also requests that the federally-mandated “No Child Left Behind” education initiative be “left behind.”
But Saturday, there was plenty of discussion on how those decisions were reached. Two additional statements were added to the county’s official platform, while three other statements were re-cast.
One Democrat, Greg Sisk of Silt, noted the importance of unity within the party, amidst the dissent.
“People feel that they’re not heard,” Sisk said to the crowd. “But that’s how we end up with parties like the Green Party, and that’s how we end up with a president like George Bush.”
“We’re all friends here,” said Rick Davis, a former Glenwood Springs city councilman, who helped chair the meeting.
“We’re all Democrats,” agreed Garfield County Democrat Party vice chair Dana Barker of Parachute. Barker also won the party’s Democrat of the Year award. His prize was a cup, and delegates passed it around and put in money as contributions for the party’s efforts.
Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518
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