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State House redistricting could see Rifle and Silt join Mesa County — and current Rep. Perry Will cut out of HD57


The current Colorado House District 57 representative and two west-Garfield County communities would be drawn out of the northwestern Colorado legislative district under the current proposal before the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission.

The Commission on June 29 released the preliminary state House, Senate and Congressional district maps that are to be reviewed over the next several months, including opportunities for public input.

As currently drawn, though, state Rep. Perry Will, R-New Castle, would no longer reside in House District 57, which he now represents.

Will lives on rural Garfield Creek Road south of New Castle.

As currently configured, that area, along with the population centers of Rifle and Silt, would become part of a swath of south-central Garfield County proposed to be moved into the House District 55, along with the rural portions of Mesa County and the northern reaches of Delta County.

District 57 would continue to include the remainder of Garfield County, including the population centers of Parachute-Battlement Mesa, New Castle, Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, plus all of Rio Blanco, Moffat and Routt counties, including Steamboat Springs.

“Changes in population necessitated the splitting of some counties,” explained Jeremiah Berry, a member of the Legislative Legal Services staff who is the managing attorney for the Independent Redistricting Commission.

In order to gain population in District 55, the section of Garfield County was needed to meet the goal of having equal population in each of the state legislative districts, he said.

State legislative and Congressional districts are redrawn every 10 years in conjunction with the federal census. Colorado voters in 2018 approved state Constitutional Amendments Y and Z, which set up the nonpartisan Independent Redistricting Commission.

According to the commission’s rules, new districts cannot be drawn for the purpose of protecting incumbent legislators or declared candidates for specific seats in the Colorado General Assembly or Congress.

According to the rules, the districts must:

• Have equal population, as required by the U.S. Constitution, with a population deviation of no more than 5% between the most populous and the least populous district in each chamber

• Be composed of contiguous geographic areas

• Comply with the federal “Voting Rights Act of 1965,” as amended

• Preserve whole communities of interest and whole political subdivisions, such as counties, cities and towns; however, a division of a county, city, city and county, or town is permitted where a community of interest’s legislative issues are more essential to the fair and effective representation of residents of the district. When the commission divides a county, city, city and county, or town, it shall minimize the number of divisions of that county, city, city and county, or town.

• Be as compact as is reasonably possible

• Maximize the number of politically competitive districts

The commission is now launching a series of presentations and public hearings across the state on the proposed new state legislative and congressional districts. A virtual hearing was held on Tuesday, and in-person hearings begin later this week.

The first Western Slope hearing is slated for 7 p.m. July 23 in Steamboat Springs, followed by an 11 a.m. July 24 hearing in Craig. The commission will be in Carbondale at 11 a.m. July 31.

Rep. Will was not immediately available for comment Tuesday on the prospect of being drawn out of HD 57.

Garfield County commissioners briefly addressed some concerns about the state redistricting during their regular meeting Tuesday. Commissioners passed a resolution urging the commission to ensure Colorado has two distinct rural congressional districts, preserving the Western Slope and the Eastern Plains as a whole.

“It looks like that’s the direction they’re going, but you never know until it’s done,” Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said of the proposed new 3rd Congressional District on the Western Slope.

The commissioners may want to weigh in on the state redistricting, as well, he said.

“After the roadshow of public hearings concludes, and once Colorado receives the census redistricting data (after Aug. 16), staff will refine the maps and present revisions to the commissions for consideration and approval,” according to a June 29 press release from the Redistricting Commission.

Written public comments will still be taken after that time, as well.

Submit public comments to the Redistricting Commission

1. (Preferred) Use the web form to submit public comment here [https://redistricting.colorado.gov/public_comments/new]

2. Email your written comments to colorado.redistricting2020@state.co.us (include full name and ZIP code).

3. Use the Redistricting Online Portal to draw and submit your map.

4. Prepare a map of your community using a free web program and submit it as an attachment or link on the web form. (The Commission recommends Representable and Dave’s Redistricting.)

5. Testify during a public hearing. The commissions are holding joint public hearings around the state in July and August.

Written materials can also be submitted by mail to:

Colorado Independent Redistricting Commissions, 1580 Logan St, Suite 430, Denver, CO 80203

After adopting final state senate and state congressional maps, the commission will submit maps to the Colorado Supreme Court for review and approval.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or jstroud@postindependent.com.

Garfield County commissioners support Boebert efforts around energy jobs, infrastructure, 30×30 opposition

Garfield County commissioners are offering their unanimous support for two pieces of legislation and a petition for a hearing on a third being put forth by Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo.

The Board of County Commissioners on Monday signed letters of support for Boebert’s bill seeking to halt President Joe Biden’s 30×30 climate action plan.

Called the “30×30 Termination Act,” and referring to the Biden plan as a “land grab,” the Rifle Republican and freshman 3rd Congressional District representative is trying to build support in the House to stop the effort.

In addition, commissioners on Monday also agreed to sign letters in support of Boebert’s alternative American Infrastructure Modernization (AIM) Act, and a discharge petition to move her Protecting American Energy Jobs Act to the House floor.

Commissioner Mike Samson of Rifle said he recently met with ranchers and other landowners as part of a visit to the Cortez area, where he said there is significant concern over the 30×30 plan.

“They’re very concerned that this could put into wilderness 30% of the land,” Samson said. “This just would wreak terrible havoc on the western United States.”

The plan, put forth by the Biden administration earlier this year, establishes a goal to conserve 30% of the nation’s land and water by the year 2030. It’s part of a broader effort to rein in resource extraction and other land and water uses that emit greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change.

County commissioners said they agree with Boebert’s “land grab” assessment; at least until there’s more clarity about what the president means by land and water conservation, Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said.

“Nobody has addressed the definition of what conservation is,” he said, reiterating that 62% of the land in Garfield County is already controlled by the federal government as public land through the Bureau of Land Management or U.S. Forest Service.

The commissioners have already passed their own resolution in opposition to the 30×30 plan. Commission Chairman John Martin said the plan impacts private as well as public lands, with its push for more conservation easements.

“The third party holder on those conservation easements is the federal government,” he said.

Supporters of the 30×30 plan have said it’s a bold step in the global effort to address climate change, and that the 30% goal could include a variety of conservation measures, not just the most-restrictive wilderness protections.

Meanwhile, Boebert’s proposed AIM Act has been offered up in response to the Biden administration’s more than $2 trillion American Jobs Plan, which focuses on rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure.

However, Boebert has been critical of the plan’s broad definition of infrastructure and its corporate tax funding structure. She says it does little to modernize the nation’s infrastructure, such as surface transportation, airports and shipping ports.

Her proposal would repurpose up to $650 billion in unallocated COVID stimulus funds for state-level grants to pay for infrastructure projects across the country.

“I strongly support this bill, and I think this can be done without new tax increases,” Jankovsky said. “It’s a much cleaner bill, and it gets right to the purpose of infrastructure improvements.”

Lastly, the commissioners agreed to support a “discharge petition” to have the Protecting American Energy Jobs Act put forth by Boebert and U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, formally considered by the House.

The measure would nullify a series of Biden executive orders upon taking office in January that Boebert has referred to as “job killers.” They included the permit revocation for the Keystone XL Pipeline and moratoriums on energy leasing on public lands.

“This is overreach that prevents American energy production, and shuts down development of our natural resources,” Samson said.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or jstroud@postindependent.com.

Glenwood Springs City Council sends letter opposing Senate Bill 62 at police chief’s request

Mayor Jonathan Godes reflected on his experience of being the victim of a low-level crime during a discussion on a proposed justice reform legislation during Thursday night’s council meeting.

“I was a victim of crime recently, my van was stolen. It was resolved very quickly, easily,” Godes said.

The city council deliberated whether or not to send a letter of opposition to their state representatives who will be voting on the bill during the 2021 legislative session in Denver.

“We have great law enforcement officers, but I’ve got to say when the (district attorney) called me to say we caught the guy red handed, in my mind it was like grand theft auto. They said let’s just let this guy off, he’s a transient he won’t come back.”

Godes said as the victim in this case, he felt the man who stole his van shouldn’t be let off so easily.

“That said, he was a transient who struggled with mental illness and he did go away,” Godes said.

The man was released from custody on a personal recognizance bond after telling the judge he wouldn’t be able to afford bond.

“I wasn’t happy with that, but that’s why you don’t let victims write the laws on specific thing,” Godes said.

“Was justice served for me? Probably not, but at the end of the day do I want someone with mental illness who has a supportive family back in Kansas City to get support over my lust for revenge?”

Godes suggested that no action be taken by the council.

Glenwood Springs Police Chief Joseph Deras requested the council to send a letter to legislators formally opposing the bill, noting that it would be symbolic at the very least.

Deras said it was also his role to inform the council of pending legislation and changes to law that will have an impact on the local community.

Councilor Charlie Wilman, who also works as an attorney, said the bill would cost municipalities more money.

“It actually costs more money because you can’t issue the bench warrant unit they fail to appear three times, and you have to send a police officer out there to issue the bench warrant,” Wilman said.

“They don’t treat these secondary citations as anything important. As a lawyer, my view is that it interferes in the efficient administration of justice.”

Councilor Tony Hershey said he believes that the bill will pass in some form, regardless of whether letters are sent in opposition of it.

“During COVID, there’s nothing easier than showing up in court. But people still fail to appear, and that just slows down the administrative justice,” Hershey said.

“We don’t know the final form of the bill.”

Deras said people in the community have been assaulted and the person who assaulted them has returned, such was the case when a man was charged with assaulting a business owner downtown, who was arrested then immediately released due to COVID policy changes.

Sean Hurt, 37, was charged with misdemeanor assault which is not considered to be at a level that would classify as a violent crime. Hurt was arrested for harassment and resisting arrest after being involved in another incident involving a business downtown.

“What arrests are typically designed to do is interrupt the cycle of violence or crime pattern,” Deras said. “Really what’s happened here these bills have been designed to favor the defendant and not so much the victim in these crimes.”

Councilor Shelley Kaup echoed Deras’ comments, saying that it appears that the legislation goes too far.

“It’s not the answer that we need or the answer that works for our community,” Kaup said.

Councilors Ingrid Wussow and Paula Stepp said they feel the information they have been provided on the legislation is only the tip of the iceberg and would like to hear more from supporters of the bill about what it would accomplish.

A motion to not send a letter failed 3-4, with Godes, Wussow and Stepp voting aye.

Stepp then reversed her position and said she’d vote yes to send a letter for the sake of public safety.

Council members Kaup, Hershey, Davis and Stepp voted aye.

The motion to send a letter in opposition to District 8 Sen. Bob Rankin and District 57 Rep. Perry Will passed on a 5-2 vote.

The two Republican state legislators represent Garfield County.

A fiscal analysis by the Colorado Legislative Council Staff estimates that the bill would cost the Colorado State Judicial Department $51,107.

“This bill is expected to result in an overall cost savings to local governments; however, costs will both increase and decrease,” the document states.

Cost savings is expected to be seen for county jails, but costs would increase for district attorney offices and county and municipal courts.

“The bill’s potential to create additional hearings will impact district attorney office workload, as well as revenue and costs in the Denver County Court, which is managed and funded by the City and County of Denver, and municipal courts,” the document states.

“Local law enforcement agencies may have additional costs to train officers on the new procedures created by the bill.”

Reporter Shannon Marvel can be reached at 605-350-8355 or smarvel@postindependent.com.

What does this bill do?

Prohibits a peace officer from arresting a person based solely on the alleged commission of a traffic offense; petty offense; municipal offense; misdemeanor offense; a class 4, 5, or 6 felony; or a level 3 or 4 drug felony unless:

An arrest in which the suspect is taken into police custody is statutorily required.

The officer is unable to sufficiently verify the individual’s identity absent a custodial arrest.

The person was convicted for a violation of the state law prohibiting driving under the influence.

The offense is a felony or a victims’ rights crime, the offense includes an element of illegal possession or use of firearm, the offense constitutes unlawful sexual behavior, or the offense is a violation a temporary or regular extreme risk protection order, a violation of a credible threat to a school, or a violation of eluding in a vehicle.

The arresting officer records in the arrest documents a reasonable suspicion to conclude the person poses a threat to the safety of another, absent custodial arrest.

The arresting officer records in the arrest documents a reasonable suspicion to conclude the person has indicated a clear unwillingness to cease and desist in criminal behavior, absent custodial arrest.

Prohibits a court from issuing a monetary bond for:

Misdemeanors

Municipal offenses

Class 4,5, or 6 felonies

Level 3 or 4 drug felonies

This legislation would not apply to defendants who the court has determined will flee prosecution or threaten the safety of another and no other condition of release can reasonably mitigate the risk.

Source:https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/sb21-062

Have smear campaign strategies helped or hurt Boebert?

ORLANDO, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 27: Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), participates in a discussion on the Right to Bear Arms during the Conservative Political Action Conference held in the Hyatt Regency on February 27, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. Begun in 1974, CPAC brings together conservative organizations, activists, and world leaders to discuss issues important to them. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: This story was first published by the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.

And the hits keep on coming.

No matter what newly minted Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., says or does, whether one finds it appropriate or not, there’s someone, somewhere who will attack the Republican congresswoman for saying or doing it.

It doesn’t stop either, and oftentimes, it’s downright nasty.

Last fall, candidate Boebert was the subject of attack ads that included old arrest photos posted on billboards. Now, the billboards instead call for Boebert to be expelled from her position.

But what her opponents don’t seem to understand is that to Boebert’s fans, the more they attack the freshman lawmaker, the more emboldened she — and they — become. All it does is get her supporters to rally behind the Silt Republican, her allies and some political observers say.

“She will have a very solid majority that will stick with her,” said longtime GOP political consultant and former Colorado Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams. “I wish she would tone down some of her tweets, but the base that loves her, and will support her regardless what the scenario is, they do like it and they do believe in her.”

RISING STAR

Those observers say that Boebert, who did not respond to requests for comment on this article, knew exactly what she was doing when she first entered the race to defeat 10-year incumbent Scott Tipton in the GOP primary last summer. And, they say, she knows what she’s doing now, at least politically.

She played to Republican base beliefs, used conservative talk radio expertly and continues to taunt her opponents and feed fresh fodder to her supporters on social media, and doing so in former President Donald Trump-like fashion, several times a day.

She does it with a savvy that few anticipated or can compete with, Wadhams and others said.

In that way, she’s nearly fulfilled her first campaign promise, to be the conservative version of her arch rival: AOC, also known as U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an outspoken New York Democrat.

Like Boebert when it comes to defending conservative issues in her first months in office, Ocasio-Cortez, too, quickly became a national hit to her party in pushing liberal ideals during her first congressional term in 2019.

Like Boebert, Ocasio-Cortez came from humble beginnings, working as a waitress (Boebert owns Shooter’s Grill restaurant in Rifle) before running for office for the first time. She, too, defeated a congressional veteran, former U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley, in a Democratic primary.

And like Boebert, Ocasio-Cortez became a frequent guest on numerous cable news programs and talk shows that had some calling her the new face of the Democratic Party.

Boebert is quickly becoming that for the Republican Party, said Floyd Ciruli, a University of Denver public opinion and foreign policy professor, who also is director of DU’s Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research.

“She is now a national media star, a national fundraising star, and she will have the full backing of most Republicans who both want to save the seat and those who are of the Trump ilk,” Ciruli said. “There may be some Republicans that are simply put off by her, particularly if she does something more rash than she’s done, but I don’t think there’s anything she’s done so far that is, well, let’s just say that if I put her on a rating with (U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor) Greene, she’s less radical.”

The thing about all this, Wadhams and Ciruli say, is that either the Democrats don’t care how negative they go against Boebert in their attempts to unseat her, or they just don’t have enough arrows in their quiver to do anything else.

At some point, their tactics will reach a point of diminishing returns, if it hasn’t already, they said, adding that the more Democrats point out what they believe are Boebert’s character flaws, the more her supporters see the opposite in her.

“Does it hurt her? Probably not, and I think the Democrats overestimate their ability to make that an issue,” added Wadhams. “I don’t think a lot of Democrats fundamentally understand the culturally conservative nature of the district.”

MEAT AND BACON

That may be partly because Democrats in the conservative-leaning 3rd Congressional District aren’t like other Democrats, the two men said. They are more akin to blue collar voters in Michigan, Wisconsin or Pennsylvania than they are to East Coast — or even Denver — Democrats.

The more left those Front Range Democrats push the state with their agenda, the more right 3rd CD voters will go, particularly when it comes to such things as gun regulations, land and agricultural issues or energy production. So-called liberal voters in the district tend to side with conservatives on those matters, Wadhams and Ciruli said.

Last year’s referendum to reintroduce wolves to the Western Slope is one example. Another is a proposed 2022 ballot measure that would impose stricter laws concerning animal cruelty, also known as the Pause Act, particularly when it comes to how livestock are raised and slaughtered.

“The MeatOut resolution and this proposition that may be going onto the ballot to ban a bunch of procedures that farmers and ranchers rely on to make their living, every time that happens it tends to define Democrats as generally out of touch with the cultural background of the 3rd CD,” Wadhams said. “Democrats continue to give the image they’re just moving headlong to the left. I don’t think they have any idea just how much damage they do to their brand outside the Denver metro area when they do this kind of stuff.”

The concept of “bringing home the bacon” in judging a lawmaker’s worth is no longer defined by how many federal dollars they can divert to their home districts.

“Bringing home the bacon, that’s sort of our (political) theory, to us older guys,” Ciruli said. “Ask (former U.S. Sen.) Cory Gardner about bringing home the bacon. He brought home so much bacon, it was unbelievable. Today, the bacon is symbolic. It’s more like, are you out fighting for me? Did you take on (former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke) on guns? She’s scored a lot of points on all of that, and she’s good at it. She gets right up to the lights. She knows how to get on TV.”

REDISTRICTING

Currently, a handful of Democratic candidates have announced plans to seek their party’s nomination to challenge Boebert in 2022. More may come and go after the state’s new Congressional Redistricting Commission redraws district lines when they finally get U.S. Census data later this year.

Because Colorado’s population has greatly increased over the past decade, the state is expected to gain an eighth congressional seat. That means district lines, particularly for the expansive 3rd CD, could be dramatically altered.

Currently, party affiliation in the district favors Republicans by about 5 percentage points, about the same margin that Boebert won last fall. It either will remain about the same, become more competitive or turn into a relatively safe seat for Republicans.

As a result, some candidates may choose not to announce until that is known, such as Senate President Leroy Garcia, a Pueblo Democrat who is considered by some, including Wadhams and Ciruli, as offering the Dems their best chance at winning the seat.

About half a dozen have already announced their bids, including two of Garcia’s colleagues in the Colorado Legislature: Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, and Rep. Donald Valdez, whose already earned the endorsement of two Democratic Pueblo County commissioners.

For now, Donovan is considered the Democratic frontrunner, but her problem is that while the vast majority of her Senate district is in the 3rd, she lives in Vail, which isn’t (although her family’s ranch where she also works is in Wolcott, which is in the district).

That may change with redistricting, but it won’t help her win support from Pueblo, a Democratic stronghold that has voted conservative in recent years. Boebert, for example, only lost that county by about half a percentage point.

For a Democrat to take the district, winning Pueblo by a much wider margin is a must, and that’s assuming Pueblo still is in the district by next year’s elections.

Garcia, who hasn’t yet revealed his future political plans, said that Pueblo voters are just like many others in the 3rd CD, they have an independent mindset and prefer candidates who are genuine, and have a clear idea of what they want to accomplish.

Garcia, who is term limited and can’t run for his state Senate seat again, said that partly explains why Tipton repeatedly won Pueblo, but is uncertain voters there, or anywhere else in the district, will continue to buy what Boebert is selling if she doesn’t show she’s doing things to address her constituents’ chief concerns.

“There’s something to be said about someone who’s willing to fight, but there’s also something to be said about someone who understands when you should fight,” Garcia said. “As a Marine who served in Iraq in 2003, I’m always fascinated by some of her rhetoric about freedom and defending and the Constitution. She wants to portray herself as having that good fight, but I would say it’s just a tweet, it’s just a Facebook post. You’re not having a real fight. You’re not actually representing your constituents. You’re just tweeting.”

ON DEAF EARS

Despite long-established political thinking that holds that while negative campaigning can motivate a candidate’s political base, it tends to alienate centrists and moderate voters, particularly if it goes on for too long.

Despite that, several groups that have already lined up to attack Boebert whenever and wherever possible show no signs of stopping.

In addition to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Colorado Turnout Project, Rural Colorado United and the Brady PAC have all lined up to join the fight to unseat Boebert, and none of them are waiting for next year’s election to start.

Brian Lemek, executive director the Brady PAC, a sister organization of Brady, a national group dedicated to the enactment of laws to reduce gun violence, doesn’t buy into a premise that too much negative campaigning against Boebert might backfire and help her get re-elected.

That group, like the others, plan to make unseating Boebert their top priority in the 2022 races.

“The more we reveal and shed light on her efforts to grow her own personal brand versus being a good legislator for her constituents in Colorado (3rd CD), the more people will be aware that this woman is out for herself, she is not out for us,” Lemek said. “What is she doing on our key issues for the district? You can look, and not even that hard, and see nothing. We just reveal the truth. We trust Colorado 3 constituents to make their own decisions.”

Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland, who started supporting Boebert since before she first announced her congressional bid in 2019, said that negative tactic absolutely will backfire.

Currently, Rowland is part of a local effort that is trying to defuse the political vitriol that has grown exponentially nationwide, much of which she says is a direct result of social media and users’ proclivity to spread negative comments, oftentimes without having command of all the facts.

When it comes to Boebert, Rowland says most people just haven’t taken the time to get to know her and fully understand what she stands for, but instead listen to their own echo chambers that reverberate only the messages they want to hear.

“It usually comes from people who have never met her, so they have this perception of who she is and what she believes and the type of person she is, and they look for things that will prove their belief, instead of taking things on face value,” Rowland said.

“When you know someone personally, and you hear some outrageous claims about them, you tend to give them the benefit of the doubt,” she added. “When you don’t know a person, and when you don’t make any attempt to know that person, if you have a negative concept about that person, you just run with it whether they are true or not.”

Regardless, get ready for more, because both sides are just clearing their throats.

Garfield County commissioners to chime in on Biden admin’s new climate, land conservation goals

Leasing of federal lands for natural gas exploration and production, such as this operation shown on the northern flank of Battlement Mesa in Garfield County from an August 2016 EcoFlight flyover, will not be permitted under President Joe Biden’s recent climate action-related executive orders.
John Stroud/Post Independent file photo

Garfield County commissioners are likely to weigh in once again on federal lands policy, following the recent flurry of executive orders by President Joe Biden furthering his administration’s climate crisis plan goals.

A temporary ban on oil and gas leasing on federal lands is a chief concern given Garfield County’s reliance on tax revenues from that industry, commissioners said.

Beyond that, the lofty land conservation goals included in the plan are worrisome, as well, commissioners said during their regular meeting earlier this week.

“More than 450 different governments and individuals signed on to support this, and we need that many to say they don’t support it,” Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said.

“This just continues to take Western counties to their knees, where we won’t have economic development … from use of our public lands,” he said.

Biden’s “30×30” plan aimed at conserving 30% of the nation’s lands by the year 2030 has other impacts beyond restrictions on energy development, all three commissioners concurred.

“This is a political promise done by the Biden administration for the environmental groups,” Commissioner John Martin said. “They are holding the president to his promise … and that’s what we will be up against … we’ll have no fossil fuels whatsoever.”

So far, there are no federal dollars allocated to try to achieve the land conservation goals, Jankovsky offered.

“To take 30% of our public lands and basically sterilize them by not having them available for logging, minerals, roads, recreation … I just can’t go along with that,” Jankovsky said.

He added that it’s unclear whether cattle grazing would be protected under the plan, and even the move to place conservation easements on private land is concerning.

“These conservation easements could go against the economic goals of the county, if they involve resource lands and you can’t get to those minerals,” he said, suggesting maybe county approval of conservation easements be required through land-use codes.

Area conservation groups have been among the supporters of the new president’s conservation and climate protection goals.

“President Biden’s inspiring 30×30 pledge willsupport additional protected lands and waters across Colorado and centers environmental justice in our most at-risk communities,” said Will Roush, executive director for the Carbondale-based Wilderness Workshop.

“We’re also excited to continue advocating for permanent protections of the Thompson Divide through the CORE Act under the current administration,” Roush said of the proposed legislation that was just reintroduced Wednesday by Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, both of Colorado.

County commissioners directed Deputy County Manager Fred Jarman to draw up a resolution for consideration in the near future stating the county’s opposition to the 30×30 plan.

Commissioner Mike Samson said Garfield County’s resolution could be used as a boilerplate for other Western United States counties and municipalities with similar concerns to issue statements, as well.

jstroud@postindependent.com

Garfield County commissioners decline to criticize Boebert over comments surrounding presidential election

In this October 2018 photo, Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky addresses a question at a candidates forum.
Post Independent file photo

Garfield County commissioners, while decrying the violent actions at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, offered no criticism Monday of Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., for statements some say helped incite the insurrection.

Debbie Bruell of Carbondale asked the commissioners during their regular meeting Monday if they would join other elected leaders from the 3rd Congressional District in holding Boebert accountable for statements she made before, during and after the Capitol riots.

Bruell, a member of the county Democratic Party Central Committee, said she was addressing the commissioners simply as a constituent.

However, she referred to a Jan. 12 letter signed by 68 elected officials in Boebert’s district calling for a Congressional investigation into the freshman congresswoman’s association with right-wing militant groups.

Bruell said some of those same groups had known ties to the Capitol violence.

The letter cites Boebert’s statements on the floor of the U.S. House as the Capitol was being breached by violent supporters of former President Donald Trump, and in social media posts, calling her actions “irresponsible and reprehensible.”

“Whether or not you condemn Rep. Boebert’s actions, this does continue to matter. This issue is not over,” Bruell said.

Boebert has denied any association with the groups that stormed the Capitol, and has condemned the actions by some of the protesters that day.

She said her “Today is 1776” tweet the morning of the Jan. 6 congressional vote accepting the Electoral College vote confirming Democrat Joe Biden as President, which she opposed, was not intended to prompt the violence that occurred.

“For the three of you to remain silent on this issue is an indication that you support Rep. Boebert and find nothing wrong with her statements surrounding the insurrection,” Bruell added.

Commissioner Tom Jankovsky, who spoke at a Freedom Rally Saturday organized by the conservative group Stay Free Colorado, said he opposes all forms of violence, regardless of political motivation.

“I’m opposed to all violence, and that includes not only the violence at the Capitol, but all the violence that happened all summer,” he said of riots associated with some of the Black Lives Matter rallies across the country.

“There’s a way for us to protest and talk, and that is peacefully,” he said, pointing to the Saturday rally in Glenwood Springs and Sheriff Lou Vallario’s comments supporting free speech and freedom of assembly.

“But the sheriff also said, as soon as somebody breaks one window or starts to destroy property, he will step in and arrest people according to the law,” Jankovsky said.

Jankovsky said he paid little attention to what Boebert, or any of the national elected officials, were saying during or after the incident in Washington, D.C.

“I’m a local politician, elected to deal with local issues,” he said.

Commission Chairman John Martin seconded that.

“Ms. Boebert is an elected official, and if she says something she has to stand up and take credit or the criticism for it, just as I do,” Martin said, adding he also disapproves of the violent actions that occurred. “I’m not judging any of the elected officials in Congress, because it’s a total mess in Congress right now.

“I’ll just pay attention to what’s going on in Glenwood Springs, Garfield County, Carbondale … that’s what I was elected to do.”

jstroud@postindependent.com

Rodriguez looks to lead ‘new generation’ in bid for Glenwood City Council

Ricky Rodriguez, behind the bar at Native Son.

Glenwood Springs restaurant owner Ricardo “Ricky” Rodriguez made it official Wednesday that he intends to challenge Glenwood City Councilor Shelley Kaup for an At-Large seat in the April 6 City Council election.

Rodriguez was busy Wednesday gathering a few more signatures of registered voters in Glenwood Springs to make his candidacy official, after falling just short of the required number of valid signatures on his candidate petition submitted Monday.

He technically has until Feb. 2 to cure his nominating petition, and said late Wednesday that he had already turned in the remaining signatures he needed.

“Glenwood is my home,” Rodriguez said in a written statement, noting that his parents immigrated from Mexico and “brought me up with the values of hard work, loyalty and commitment to my community.”

Rodriguez was born in Glenwood Springs, which inspired the name of his Native Son restaurant and bar in downtown Glenwood that replaced his former venture, the Loyal Bros. Lounge, in spring 2018.

“I grew up watching the American dream come to life through the incredible example of my mom and dad,” Rodriguez said. “When they became citizens of this country, the vision of unlimited opportunity through hard work was afforded to me and my siblings. I am forever grateful.”

Rodriguez, 41, has been an outspoken critic of some of the city’s policies related to what he says were sometimes onerous restrictions imposed on restaurants and other businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Currently, we are lacking a voice who can speak up for small business owners, for our thriving Latino community and for a younger, more diverse generation that is growing up here in our valley,” Rodriguez said. “I know we are ready for a new generation of leadership …

“I believe my life experiences and success as a business owner through challenging and nearly impossible circumstances will serve to help our community thrive in this post-pandemic era,” he said. “I believe we can work together to create more choices and options that will bring the prosperity Glenwood needs to thrive once again.”

Kaup, who is seeking reelection to another four-year term after being elected in 2017 to one of two At-Large City Council seats, said she looks forward to hearing from voters about what matters most to them, and what they expect from city leaders.

Shelley Kaup awaits returns at the Rivers Restaurant on election night in 2017.

“I always expected this would be a contested race,” Kaup said. “I look forward to the election and the campaign, and I think it’s a great time to have conversations in the community.”

Kaup noted in her own reelection bid announcement Jan. 14 that the city has done its best to support local businesses while protecting public health.

“This year has certainly been a challenge for small businesses, and I believe the city has done all that we can to find that balance and keep businesses and the community healthy, and help them thrive,” she said.

“I’ve also been a small business owner in this community for many years and I recognize the challenges,” said Kaup, who ran an engineering business for many years and has recently worked as a building sustainability and energy efficiency consultant.

“My husband and I raised a family here, so I know the struggles of young people trying to live and succeed here,” she said. “And, I will continue to be a strong advocate in our outreach to people of all colors and backgrounds as we seek to have more community interaction and engagement by everyone.”

Ward seats to go uncontested

While the At-Large seat will be contested in the April 6 election, the Wards 2 and 5 seats — held respectively by Ingrid Wussow and Jonathan Godes — that are also up for election, will go uncontested.

Godes, who for the past two years has served as the council-appointed mayor, said he was surprised to hear no other candidates put in for the south Glenwood ward seat.

“In general, I don’t think that uncontested elections are great, but it’s nice to not have to run a campaign,” Godes said. “Overall, I think the community seems to feel that we are working hard to understand the issues and reflect the will of our citizens.

“While Shelley, Ingrid and I don’t always get it ‘right,’ and while we don’t always agree with each other, we respect each other, the staff and the process. I think that the people appreciate that,” Godes said.

Wussow, who was appointed to the vacant Ward 2 seat last fall to represent the West Glenwood area, said she, too, was expecting a challenge.

“Truthfully, for the purposes of a democratic, fair election, it’s nice to have a choice,” she said. “But I’m honored in this situation to be able to continue representing Ward 2.”

jstroud@postindependent.com

Just one of three Glenwood City Council seats to be contested in April

There will be at least one contested race for Glenwood Springs City Council in the April 6 election.

Native Son Restaurant and Bar owner Ricky Rodriguez was the only non-incumbent candidate to submit his petition by the Monday deadline. He intends to run for the At-Large seat against incumbent Shelley Kaup.

Rodriguez was not immediately available for comment on Tuesday, but indicated in a text message that he plans to make a formal announcement about his City Council bid on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, unless a write-in candidate emerges in the next few days, it appears Ward 5 Councilor and current Mayor Jonathan Godes and recently appointed Ward 2 Councilor Ingrid Wussow will be running unopposed.

According to city of Glenwood Springs Public Information Officer Hannah Klausman, no other candidate petitions were received by the 5 p.m. Monday deadline.

Kaup announced her bid for reelection on Jan. 14, while Godes and Wussow made their intentions known a few days later.

Rodriguez has been an often-outspoken critic of the city’s COVID-19 response and restrictions on restaurants and other businesses over the past year, including the city’s downtown mask requirement. Recently, he penned a guest column that ran in the Post Independent addressing some of those concerns.

jstroud@postindependent.com

Rep. Lauren Boebert appointed to U.S. House Natural Resources, Budget committees

Colorado’s Third District Congresswoman Lauren Boebert announced her U.S. House committee assignments for the 117th session of Congress on Tuesday.

The freshman Republican representative from Rifle will sit on the Natural Resources and Budget committees, according to a news release from her congressional office.

Boebert’s Natural Resources appointment follows suit from her predecessor, Republican Rep. Scott Tipton, who spent most of his five terms on that committee.

“With over half of Colorado’s Third Congressional District containing federal land, I’ll have a unique opportunity to be a strong voice for my constituents on important issues impacting their livelihoods,“ Boebert said in the release. ”I’ll pursue policies that increase access and ensure multiple-use for sportsmen and other public land enthusiasts, allow for responsible energy production while protecting the environment, reduce our dependency on rare earths and critical minerals from China, empower tribes, increase storage and protect precious water supplies, and promote job creation while removing unnecessary regulations and red tape.“

The Budget Committee assignment signals a new voice for Colorado’s Western Slope on federal fiscal matters. Boebert was critical of federal spending priorities and the growing national debt while on the campaign trail last year.

“America is nearly $28 trillion in debt,” she said in the Tuesday release. “It is far past time that Congress gets its fiscal house in order, prioritize the values of the American people, and put an end to Washington’s wasteful federal spending.

“As a mother of four and a small business owner, I know it takes discipline and tough choices to balance a budget,” said the Rifle restaurant owner-turned-congresswoman. “We can no longer afford to spend and borrow away our children’s future.”

Boebert noted among her credentials for serving on the Natural Resources Committee that she has held three different jobs in western Colorado’s oil and gas industry, and that both fossil fuels and renewable energy are major employers in Colorado.

On the budget front, she described herself as a “fiscal hawk” who will “fight for budget priorities that reflect the values of the Third Congressional District and hard-working American families.”

Glenwood attorney, former state House candidate Colin Wilhelm announces 2022 bid for Boebert’s CD3 seat

Two-time candidate for the Colorado Legislature and Glenwood Springs criminal defense attorney Colin Wilhelm is adding his name to what’s expected to be a long list of Democrats vying for the congressional seat now held by Republican Lauren Boebert of Rifle.

Wilhelm formally announced Monday that he will be seeking the Democratic nomination in 2022 for the 3rd Congressional District seat, saying that he is “running to create a greater opportunity for every family in Colorado.”

“We are at a period where our democracy is being threatened by fringe elements who have sought to take control of American politics,” Wilhelm said.

Wilhelm issued a statement confirming his candidacy, saying that he is “running to help reconstruct politics in this country through unity.”

Wilhelm ran unsuccessfully for the 57th District Colorado House of Representatives seat last year against state Rep. Perry Will, and in 2018 against now state Sen. Bob Rankin, both Republicans.

He noted that the Nov. 3, 2020 election in which Boebert defeated Democrat Diane Mitsch-Bush that there were more cross-party votes than the district had ever seen before.

“Across our state, parents are struggling to create a better life for their children,” he said in the release. “We must do more to create good-paying jobs that can support a family, guarantee access to quality health care, including mental health care, ensure the affordability of higher education, address the housing crisis, and protect our environment.”

Given Boebert’s controversial start since being sworn in earlier this month — including allegations that her social media comments helped incite the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and related to her association with right-wing militant groups — the field of candidates to replace her in two years may be large.

Several prospective candidates have already formally announced, including Durango crane operator and business owner Marina Zimmerman, who is currently unaffiliated, or said they are considering it.

Among the potential Democrats who may challenge Boebert are current Colorado Senate President Leroy Garcia of Pueblo, and state Sen. Kerry Donovan of rural Eagle County, according to a Jan. 23 article in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.

It’s also possible Republicans could mount a primary challenge to Boebert for the party nomination in 2022. Boebert rose to political prominence herself last year when she defeated five-term incumbent Republican Congressman Scott Tipton in the June GOP primary.

Also factoring into the political maneuvering will be this year’s congressional redistricting, which could shift the boundaries of the 3rd District. The sprawling district now includes Pueblo and most of the Western Slope, except Vail and eastern Eagle County and Summit County.

Wilhelm noted in his announcement that he has a degree from Marquette University in communication studies and his law degree from New England Law-Boston.

After he and his wife moved to Glenwood Springs, Wilhelm has been on numerous non-profit and government boards.

“My parents instilled in me a commitment to community and a firm belief in the promise of America,” he said in the release. “I was raised in a close-knit community and a home known for its strong work ethic and service to others. I want to bring that attitude to Washington on behalf of all Colorado residents.”

jstroud@postindependent.com