Diaz challenges Martin for commissioner | PostIndependent.com

Diaz challenges Martin for commissioner

Ryan Hoffman
Aron Diaz
Staff Photo |

Garfield County CaucusES


Precincts 1-4: Carbondale Middle School

Precincts 5-7: Glenwood Springs Branch Library

Precincts 8-12: Glenwood Springs Methodist Church

Precincts 13-15: New Castle Branch Library

Precincts 16-18: Silt Branch Library

Precincts 19-23: Rifle Branch Library

Precincts 24-27: Parachute Branch Library


Precincts 1-4: Roaring Fork High School

Precincts 5-12: Glenwood Springs Community Center

Precincts 13-18: Coal Ridge High School

Precincts 19-23: Garfield County Fairgrounds

Precincts 24-27: Grand Valley Recreation Center

All caucuses start at 7 p.m., March 1. Detailed precinct maps can be found at http://www.garfield-county.com/clerk-recorder/voter-precinct-maps.aspx.

Silt Trustee Aron Diaz officially announced late last week his candidacy for Garfield County commissioner in District 2, which could lead to a possible Republican primary battle with 20-year incumbent John Martin.

Martin confirmed Monday that he is seeking a sixth term representing District 2, which includes the eastern and northern sections of Glenwood Springs, as well as New Castle and Silt.

Commissioner Mike Samson also confirmed Monday that he is seeking a third term representing District 3. That district covers much of western Garfield County, including Rifle, Parachute and Battlement Mesa.

Dave Merritt, Garfield County Republican chairman, said he was aware of all three candidates’ intentions. Unlike District 2, Merritt said he was unaware of a primary opponent in District 3, although that is still a possibility.

On the Democratic side, no one has officially declared a candidacy in the two commissioner races, although local party officials are working on identifying possible candidates, said Bob Shivley, Garfield County Democrats chairman.

“I would expect to,” Shivley said of fielding candidates for the two positions, “and we’re working it hard.”

As for the Republicans, Merritt said it is important for local party officials to remain neutral at this stage of the game, although increased involvement is good news.

“I think it’s good to get folks interested in the process,” he said.

On that note, Martin agreed, saying he has always encouraged people to become involved in the local political process.

In an interview Monday, Diaz said he intends to highlight economic development and diversification in his bid for commissioner.

The first-term Silt trustee, who previously served as executive director of Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado, pointed to efforts by the Silt Urban Renewal Authority as an example of how local governments are finding ways to leverage limited resources to spur economic development.

At the county level, Diaz said more communication with local businesses is needed to pinpoint impediments, and determine what role the county can play in fostering a climate that encourages growth in the private sector.

“We need to make it a place where people can grow their business, grow their family and grow roots,” Diaz said.

Martin said he does not intend to rest on his laurels, nor will he hide from any of the thousands of decisions he has made as a commissioner. He added that his passion stems from the people of Garfield County.

“I’ll be blunt, I’m for the betterment of the citizens,” Martin said.

The announcement by Diaz last Thursday came less than two weeks before Colorado voters meet to caucus on March 1. Republicans will caucus at five sites throughout the county, while Democrats will caucus at six locations.

From there, both parties will host county assemblies on March 12 and, among other tasks, nominate candidates to run for county commissioner. Candidates who receive a minimum of 30 percent of the vote at the assemblies automatically qualify for the June 28 primary.

However, if a candidate fails to receive 30 percent of the assembly vote, he or she can still run a petition effort to make it on the primary ballot.

Diaz said he does plan to go through the petition process should he fail to receive 30 percent of the assembly vote, while Martin said he will wait to see what the atmosphere is at the assembly, should such a scenario play out.

Samson, a Republican who was first elected in 2008, said Monday that he believes the Garfield County is in good shape and commissioners have done a solid job of positioning the county for the future.

Outside of county commissioner races, voters also will weigh in on some regional elected offices this year, including: Colorado House District 57, occupied by Republican Bob Rankin; Colorado Senate District 8, occupied by Republican Randy Baumgardner; and 9th Judicial District Attorney, a position held by Democrat Sherry Caloia.

All three incumbents are running for re-election, according to records with the Colorado Secretary of State. Those same records show that Caloia will have a likely Republican challenger in Jeff Cheney, who served as assistant district attorney under former District Attorney Martin Beeson.

Caloia edged out Beeson in 2012 — a narrowly decided race for the leadership position of the 9th Judicial District, which includes Garfield, Pitkin and Rio Blanco counties.

On Monday, Democrat Emily Tracy of Breckenridge announced her candidacy for Colorado Senate District 8, which encompasses Garfield, Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Routt, Rio Blanco and Summit counties.

Tracy, a mother and teacher at Colorado Mountain College, previously ran against Baumgardner in 2012, with Baumgardner winning 51 percent of the vote to Tracy’s 44 percent.

Neither Shivley nor Merritt was aware of a possible challenger to Rep. Rankin of Carbondale, who was first elected to the position in 2012. Colorado House District 57 includes Garfield, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties.

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