Candidate’s address doesn’t matter much to Summit County voters
Ryan Summerlin October 9, 2012
Across the aisle, candidates for the state House and Senate are pledging to be a voice for Western Slope interests in Denver.
But to local voters, geography isn’t all that important.
A recent Summit Daily online poll indicated Summit County residents care more about a candidate’s views and platform than whether the candidate lives in Summit County.
Fifty-six percent of the 276 respondents to the unofficial survey said they don’t care if the state House and Senate candidates are their neighbors as long as they’re representing the voters’ interests.
An additional 23 percent said they vote for their party’s candidate, regardless of where the hopeful lives.
“To me, it doesn’t make any difference if they’re from Summit County or not,” said Darrel Baker, a GOP voter and Breckenridge resident. “If they represent us here, if they are conservative or lean conservative, I don’t really care where they’re from.”
Some voters, however, say a candidate with a local address may better understand Summit County’s needs than contenders who live elsewhere, particularly following a redistricting process that grouped Summit in with more rural western counties.
“It makes it easier to reach out and touch them,” Dillon Democrat Flo Raitano said of locally based elected officials. “It’s really important that the people who represent us live in Summit County. At the end of the day, what does Gunnison County care about Interstate 70, really? Some of the major issues are kind of site specific.”
The redistricting process landed Summit County in a state Senate district with Garfield, Routt, Grand, Jackson, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties. The county’s new state House district includes Lake, Pitkin and parts of Gunnison and Delta.
A large percentage of candidates running for regional seats this year – at least one in each race – are from Summit County.
Both major parties, Republican and Democrat, are represented by local candidates in the race for state House District 61. Dillon Democrat Millie Hamner and Breckenridge Republican Debra Irvine are up against not only each other for the seat, but Gunnison independent Kathleen Curry and American Constitution Party candidate Robert Petrowsky, from Leadville.
Democrat Emily Tracy, of Breckenridge, is challenging Hot Sulphur Springs Republican Randy Baumgardner for state Senate District 8, and local Republican Scott Turner is facing off against Evergreen Democrat Bruce Brown for the office of the 5th Judicial District Attorney.
All of the candidates for Congressional District 2 live on the Front Range.