Diaz makes GOP ballot to challenge Martin
Garfield County will see a Republican primary race for Commissioner District 2, currently held by commission Chairman John Martin, while a challenger on the ballot for District 3 remains up in the air after last Saturday’s County Republican Assembly.
At least 39 votes out of 128 delegates were needed for a candidate to cement a place on the ballot. Silt Trustee Aron Diaz, challenging Martin, came away with 42. Andrea Matthews of Rifle, challenging incumbent Mike Samson, fell short with just 13.
The primary election will be June 28.
On Saturday, Diaz won a coin toss to speak before the delegates voted at Colorado Mountain College’s Rifle Campus, but opted to let Martin go first.
“I’ve made tens of thousands of a decisions for you,” Martin told the crowd. “Some have been unpopular and some not. Some have been very hard for me personally, but I’ve made them for benefit of the the citizens of Garfield County.”
Diaz emphasized the need for a more diverse economy.
“Disproportionately, we’re dependent on oil and gas,” he said. “I’m sure everybody in here knows a professional in this community who, if they lost that job, would have to leave.”
Matthews opted to go first after winning the next coin toss, and emphasized three issues: Local government control, economic diversity and local food security.
“Please stand with me today and ensure that our community has a choice,” she said.
After failing to get enough support from delegates to have her name automatically appear on the primary ballot, she said she thinks it’s “more than likely” that she will try to get on the ballot through a petition drive.
“I’m weighing my options,” she said. “My work and experience in this community has stirred up a pressure inside of me to be the change I want to see … I recognize that you have to work within the system. I hope that my efforts today have at least inspired others.”
“I got a lot of amazing support just by coming here,” she added. “I feel that I’m not done yet.”
Samson didn’t seem inclined to pass the torch.
Backed by fellow Commissioner Tom Jankovsky, Silt Police Chief Levy Burris and Glenwood Springs Mayor Mike Gamba, he took the stage with confidence.
“I have always tried to put one thing above all others … what is best for Garfield County,” he said. “Not an individual, not a group, but what’s best for the county.”
Although the commissioner races occupied the majority of the morning, the event also presented an opportunity for other candidates to reinforce their message. State Rep. Bob Rankin spoke on behalf of himself and his wife, Joyce, who sits on the state board of education.
“We’re living the dream doing the people’s business,” he said.
State Sen. Randy Baumgardner attended early on but left before he could address the crowd. His proxy reminded the crowd that an independent challenger could prove enough to jeopardize Baumgardner’s seat and Republican control of the Colorado Senate.
U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton was also represented indirectly, noting that the party could either stay the course that has brought them this far or diverge from that path.
His challenger, Carbondalian Alex Beinstein, spoke in person.
“I’m running for two reasons – to actually honor the Constitution and to put Saudi Arabia in the forefront of the war on Islamic terror.”
The assembly also included a resolution to encourage candidates to support the Second Amendment, as well as a statement by Ninth Judicial District Attorney candidate Jeff Cheney, who is challenging Democratic incumbent Sherry Caloia. Carbondale-based defense attorney Chip McCrory also plans to run as an independent.
“This is a year that matters, on the national level and the local level,” Cheney said.
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Garfield County is seeking to qualify its four west-end communities for Colorado’s Rural Jump Start program, providing tax breaks for new businesses.