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Grassroots politics hard at work

Whitney Childers

When I sat down to write this column about the recent Summit County Republican, Democrat and Green Party assemblies, I wanted to come clean about my perceived party affiliation.

I’ve been called everything from liberal to conservative. One acquaintance even referred to me as a socialist. I’ve found myself flipping through television channels and stopping on Rush Limbaugh’s show – more out of curiosity than anything.

A lot of the labeling is dependent on where I happened to be living at the time, what opinion I was voicing or what group I was consorting with.

I’m fascinated with political thought in general – no matter what theory it is based upon, who founded it or whether I agree. I like playing the devil’s advocate. I’ve made enemies of close friends just because I offered up a different opinion.

Maybe it’s a product of my job. Every day I am asked to hear someone’s viewpoint on a particular subject matter or am persuaded to take sides on certain issues.

In most of these cases, I both empathize and disagree with each party. I see validity and falsehoods.

Some might call me open-minded. Some might call me spineless. Either way, in the end, I always seem to form an opinion, which isn’t necessarily liberal or conservative.

So, maybe that’s why I was so impressed after attending our local Republican and Democrat assemblies. (Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make the Summit Greens caucus. It took place the same night as the Republican assembly.)

I was fascinated with the grassroots political involvement and the different viewpoints, though the visible absence of the 20- to 40-year-old Summit County population was disappointing.

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.

The latest county figures show there are 3,857 Democrats and 4,959 Republicans who are considered “active.” The numbers go down for people who are as Independent.

At each assembly I attended, there wasn’t any speech or platform that couldn’t easily be accessed on a candidate’s Web site or viewed in a glossy brochure. Perhaps the most impressive part of these local assemblies is the intimate conversations between candidate and voter or casual handshakes and meaningful questions.

I imagine it’s the way most of us would like to experience politics – one meeting at a time, one vote at a time.

???

Over the next five months, we will have a great responsibility to share news about candidates for local and state offices. We will be covering the campaigns and endorsing candidates.

The following are candidates each Summit County party is supporting for public office. Summit County Democrats are putting forward one candidate for a county office. The Republicans are putting forward several candidates for county office.

This is just a prelude to the coverage readers will see over the next few months. If you are at all squeamish about politics, then I suggest you start reading comic books rather than newspapers. It’s going to be a bumpy, yet intriguing, ride.

As for my party affiliation, I’ve decided not come clean on that quite yet.

Summit County Democrats’ endorsements

n Tim Strickland – for U.S. senator for the state of Colorado

n Mark Udall – for reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives

n Rollie Health – for governor of the state of Colorado

n Ken Salazar – for attorney general of the state of Colorado

n Joan Fitz-Gerald – for reelection to Colorado State Senate

n Carl Miller – for reelection to Colorado House of Representatives

n Denise Steiskal – for reelection to Summit County assessor

Summit County Republicans’ selections

n Cheri Brunvand – for Summit County Clerk and Recorder

n Joe Morales – Summit County Sheriff

n Larry Gilliland and Marty Ferris – the race for Summit County Treasurer is contested. Both candidates qualified with enough votes during the Summit County Republican Assembly to move into the primary.

n Dave Joslin and Joanne Richardson – the race for Summit County Coroner is contested. Both candidates qualified with enough votes during the Summit County Republican Assembly to move into the primary.

Summit Greens’ selections

n Justin McCarthy – for Summit County Commissioner from District 1, which includes the Upper Blue basin from Farmer’s Korner to Hoosier Pass. McCarthy will face Incumbent Gary Lindstrom in the Nov. 5 election.

Also, the state assembly for Democrats is set for Saturday, June 1 in Denver and the state assembly for Republicans is set for Saturday, June 1 in Colorado Spring.

Whitney Childers is the editor of the Summit Daily News. She may be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 227 or wchilders@summitdaily.com


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