In front of about 50 local Democrats Friday night, Democratic governor candidate Rollie Heath gave current governor Bill Owens a grade an F minus.
The 38,000 residents in Colorado who cannot find work is just one legacy of Owens' failed leadership, Heath told local supporters gathered for the Ed Johnson Dinner at the Holiday Inn of Craig.
"We have to change who's in the governor's office," he said. "In the four years he has been in office, we have gone from an $800 million surplus to a deficit. If he were CEO of a company he would have been fired. Gov. Owens needs to be fired."
He then asked the audience to grade the governor.
"What grade would you give Gov. Owens?" he asked. "I would give him an F minus."
Colorado tourism may face hard times this summer because of comments made by Gov. Owens, Heath said.
"He showed us these last couple of weeks his inexperience when he went on national television and said 'Colorado is on fire,'" he said. "People thought we were closed for business. If I were governor I would have said we have a problem but then said the golf courses are OK, the museums are still open and the Colorado Rockies are still playing. His comments were inappropriate."
Three other Democratic Party hopefuls spoke Friday night at the event honoring a former Craig resident who experienced considerable success in politics.
The event was held in honor of Ed Johnson, who built a wilderness homestead in Craig in the early 1900s, served three terms as governor of Colorado and three terms as a United States senator.
Johnson, who died in 1970, also served four terms in the Colorado House of Representatives.
"A guy that rose to prominence right out of Craig was 'Big Ed' Johnson," said Tim Christensen, chairperson of the local Democratic Party. "He proved that in this country you can come from anywhere and do anything you want. Tonight we remember 'Big Ed.'"
The two local candidates speaking Friday night were Terry Carwile and Don Kroese.
Carwile, who's running for House District 57, spoke on education, water issues and the importance of controlled population growth.
"We need to keep our water in Colorado and water on the Western Slope needs to stay on the Western Slope," he told the audience. "Our economy will suffer badly without intelligent use of this resource."
It is important that Craig maintains its traditional way of life as it continues to grow, he said.
"The whole district needs economic development compatible with our lifestyle," he said. "As the economy develops and the population continues to increase we must work to preserve that rural life style."
Kroese, the other local candidate speaking Friday night, said he chose to run for Moffat County sheriff because he wants to give people a choice in the election.
"The main reason I'm doing this is for freedom of choice," he said. "There aren't enough people that run for public office."
Kroese said he would work for improved relations between residents and officers if he were elected as sheriff.
"I will push for honesty and respect if I'm elected to office," he said.
Kroese kept his speech short saying he would be going door to door talking to people starting Sunday.
"I hope I can talk to everybody when I'm going door to door," he said. "I'll leave the majority of the time to these other people and I'll talk to all of you when I come to your door."
Christine Pacheco, a Pueblo judge and president of the Pueblo School District, is running for the state board of education in the Third Congressional District.
She said she approaches education through what she sees in her courtroom.
"I see the roughest, toughest kids in my courtroom," she said. "There's no such thing as bad kids, but bad circumstances."
It is important that education continue to change with the times, she said.
"Our children do not learn the same way we did," she said. "Everything's fast and on computer screens. If we think we can educate them the same old way, we're missing the boat."
Of the four candidates who spoke Friday night, Heath spoke the longest and covered the widest variety
"I'm pro-choice and Bill Owens is not," he said. "When I am elected I will restore money to Planned Parenthood the first week I'm in office."
Audience member Mike Frazier asked Heath if he thought it was a good idea to be so outspoken about his belief on a sensitive subject.
"Does it concern you that there are a good number of people of strong religious faith that would cross you off of a card simply because of that one issue?" Frazier asked.
"It doesn't bother me," Heath responded. "I'm doing this because I believe certain things are very important. I would be doing each of you a disservice if I didn't. If I lose because of it, so be it. That's where I'm coming from. What you see is what
you get with me."