Candidates discuss the issues over burgers
FRISCO – Pierre Kieffer votes Democrat, or he doesn’t vote at all.
Kieffer, a French-born American citizen, joined about 30 fellow Democrats – as well as curious Greens and Independents – for a fund-raising barbecue Saturday at Walter Byron Park in Frisco. Picnickers ate hamburgers and visited with three candidates running for office in November: U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, state Sen. Joan Fitz-Gerald and state Rep. Carl Miller. It was the second visit to Summit County since April for all three.
Like the other residents, Kieffer attended to learn about the candidates and show his support for the party. A lifelong plumber and union member, Kieffer moved to Summit County from California two years ago.
“I didn’t vote the past two years, because I didn’t know the candidates,” Kieffer said. “But that’s why I’m here.”
Other attendees said they came out to support the candidate who’s strongest on the issues that are important to them. Patty Theobald, whose father-in-law, Robert Theobald, served as a state senator representing Summit County in the 1950s, said she was planning her own fund-raising hike for Udall.
“He’s the most conservation- and ecology-minded candidate,” Patty Theobald said. “That means a lot to people in Summit County.”
Udall arrived late to the barbecue because of an overturned semi on Interstate 70, giving him a good segue for one of his platform issues: transportation. He also spoke of his interest in finding solutions for housing, health care and environmental issues. Udall said he hopes to hear more from Summit County voters about their concerns and to make them see that Front Range communities have the same worries.
“My appeal is for East and West Slope communities to see that their interests are not that far apart,” Udall said. “We need to pull together.”
Udall is seeking a third term in Congress. Due to redistricting, his new constituents would comprise Boulder, Gilpin, Clear Creek, Grand, Eagle and parts of Jefferson and Adams counties, in addition to Summit.
Fitz-Gerald and Miller spoke about the recent special session of the Legislature in Denver and urged Democrats to do their part in helping candidates win a majority in the state capitol.
Fitz-Gerald said she was pleased the special session produced legislation to strengthen consequences for violating fire restrictions, including such acts as throwing cigarette butts out car windows. But she was disappointed, she said, at much of the political wrangling in the four-day session last week and the failure of some significant bills. She cited a bill that would have guaranteed a return to work for people who join federal firefighting teams, which was killed in the House, as an example.
“Our state wildfire fighting fund was depleted in the first month of this summer,” Fitz-Gerald said. “I carried a bill that would have allowed contributions with a tax form check-off. That was killed, too. I don’t understand not giving people options.”
The new District 16 for which she will seek election covers Summit, Grand, Clear Creek and Gilpin counties, and parts of Jefferson and Boulder counties.
Miller said he’ll stay busy until the next legislative session with interim committees on water, fire and police pensions and energy. He said the water interim committee will develop conceptual bills for the next session and attempt to address concerns raised by the current drought. The life-long Leadville resident and former Lake County commissioner also will be campaigning until November, as well as serving as a host for the National Council of State Legislators later this summer.
Miller said he wants to hear more from Summit County citizens on the issues that are affecting them.
“Their phone calls are always welcome,” Miller said. “I value the input, so give me a call.”
Summit County Green Party activist Doug Malkan and Green candidate for Summit County commissioner Justin McCarthy also attended the barbecue and invited others to attend an appearance by the party’s gubernatorial candidate, Ron Forthofer. Forthofer spoke at a campaign stop in Frisco’s Old Town Hall later in the day.
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