Garfield County caucuses kick off 2018 election on Tuesday |

Garfield County caucuses kick off 2018 election on Tuesday

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times

Democrats and Republicans in Garfield and Pitkin counties, and all across the state, will take the first step Tuesday in the nominating process leading up to the November mid-term elections that include the contest for Colorado's next governor.

Call it caucus calculus, thanks to a complex state electoral process that starts at a grassroots level this week, followed by county, legislative district, congressional district and state assemblies, before advancing to the June primary elections and the deciding contests in November.

In Garfield County, precinct caucuses will be held in each of the six municipalities (see accompanying listing for locations) starting at 7 p.m., with registration beforehand. In Pitkin County, party decisions will be made on the main campus of the Aspen School District.

"This is a key step in designating local candidates to the primary and/or general election ballot this year," Dave Merritt, a Garfield County Republican Central Committee member, wrote in a recent column explaining the importance of caucuses in the political process.

"In spite of the changes made by Amendments 107 and 108 last year, allowing unaffiliated voters the opportunity to vote in either the Republican or Democratic Primaries, the party caucus and assembly process is still the principle manner in which our local county and state level candidates are placed on the ballots," Merritt said.

Only registered Democrats or Republicans can participate in the caucus' and assemblies, while unaffiliated voters will be able to participate in the primary election of their choosing in June.

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"People today are frustrated that the American Dream is not working," said Bob Jenkins, chairman of the Pitkin County Republicans. "These caucuses are the grassroots participation level of the American democratic system."

The caucuses will be a time when the parties will select their delegates for the April party assemblies, which is when the names on the June primary ballots — which also includes state and federal races — will be decided.

Pitkin County Democrats chair Howard Wallach noted that only one Democratic candidate for governor, Cary Kennedy, is seeking a nomination through the caucus process. The other four Democrats are trying to get on the ballot through petition efforts. Republican Cynthia Coffman is trying to get on the ballot through the caucus.

Tuesday's caucus participation is open only to voters who either affiliated as a Democrat or Republican in early January and were registered to vote no later than the first week of February.

While unaffiliated voters will sit out the caucuses, they can cast their ballots in the June 26 primary election on either the Democrat or Republican ticket, following voters' approval of Proposition 108 in 2016.

Post Independent Editor John Stroud contributed to this report.

Garfield County political party caucus locations

Democratic Party

Precincts 1-4: Carbondale Middle School

Precincts 5-12: Glenwood Springs Library

Precincts 13-15: New Castle Community Center

Precincts 16-18: Silt Library

Precincts 19-23: Rifle Library

Precincts 24-27: Parachute Library

Republican Party

Precincts 1-4: Roaring Fork High School (Carbondale)

Precincts 5-12: Glenwood Springs Community Center

Precincts 13-15: Coal Ridge High School

Precincts 16-18: Coal Ridge High School

Precincts 19-23: Garfield County Fairgrounds

Precincts 24-27: Grand Valley Recreation Center