Summit County political parties gear up for election season
– County Assembly, Democrats: 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 3, Summit Middle School cafeteria
– County Assembly, Republicans: 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 9, Summit Middle School
– State Convention, Democrats: Saturday, June 1, Denver
– State Convention, Republicans: Saturday, June 1, Colorado Springs
FRISCO – Summit Countians engaged in an increasingly rare political process Tuesday night when local Democrats and Republicans hosted precinct caucuses.
Colorado is one of only a handful of states that has continued the practice of holding caucuses and “pre-primary nominations,” at which voters affiliated with a particular political party essentially select representatives to nominate party candidates for nomination.
As the explanation implies, it’s a somewhat convoluted process, but one Summit County Central Committee Republican Chair Harley Williams “would hate to see done away with.”
“I personally think it’s a great way to get people out and active in politics,” he said. “It’s a great grassroots way to get people involved.”
Precinct caucuses in larger counties often are informal meetings held in someone’s living room. In between cups of coffee and slices of bundt cake, neighbors select delegates to attend the county assembly.
Summit County, however, consists of only 17 precincts. (The latest figures from the county list just 3,857 Democrats and 4,959 Republicans as “active.”) So, instead of hosting a score of small neighborhood meetings, everyone gathers at one place. On Tuesday night, Summit County Republicans met at Frisco’s Holiday Inn. Democrats convened at the Summit Middle School.
Members of each party elected two delegates from each precinct (a total of 34, plus alternates) to represent them at the county assemblies and selected election judges to serve at the primary and general elections.
Summit County Democrats aren’t putting forward any candidates for the county elections, so they weren’t heavily wooed by politicians.
The Republicans, however, have two contested races – for county coroner and county treasurer. Republicans Dave Joslin and Joanne Richardson are seeking the coroner’s spot. Republicans Larry Gilliland and Marty Ferris each want to be treasurer.
Candidates have been out there “hustling in the precincts to get as many of their delegates (elected) as they can,” Williams said. In addition, “The candidates usually get a chance to talk to people before we get down to business (at the caucus),” he explained.
The real courting, however, begins with the election of the delegates to the county assembly, because candidates for local office know these people will decide whose name gets on the primary ballots, and candidates for state office know these same delegates will go on to the state assembly and have a voice in nominations there.
The fun has just begun.
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