Moffat County's Democratic Party opened the county assembly season for Colorado on Wednesday night, holding the first Democratic assembly in the state.
Twenty-two delegates attended the assembly. In straw votes, they voted unanimously to support John Kerry, the presumed Democratic presidential candidate, Jay Fetcher, the only Democrat running against state Sen. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, and Terry Carwile, the only Democrat running for the Moffat County Board of Commissioners.
"This is my sincere wish, that the delegates would honor the wishes of those of us here, although it is not binding," said Tim Christensen, Moffat County Democratic Party president.
Christensen referred to the eight delegates and one alternate delegate the party chose to represent the county at the 3rd Congressional District Assembly on May 21 and 22 in Pueblo. There, the delegates will vote for whose name they want to appear on the primary ballot Aug. 10.
Many of those in attendance said they were not familiar enough with the congressional candidates to take a straw vote at the assembly, though the state Democratic party likes them to take such votes as an indicator of how candidates are faring.
JoAnn Baxter, a delegate to the 3rd Congressional District Assembly, said she didn't know enough about the Democratic congressional candidates to make an informed decision at the meeting, but she promised that she would educate herself before making the trip to Pueblo.
Democrats running for the open 3rd Congressional District seat are Rep. John Salazar, D-Manassa, a rancher from the San Luis Valley; Anthony Martinez, an Air Force reservist; Randy Fricke, an alternative energy lobbyist; and Jim Spehar, the mayor of Grand Junction.
Spehar attended the assembly meeting and told the delegates he strongly supported revising the health-care system and improving the economy.
"The talking heads on television are talking about a recovery when there are still 2.5 million more people out of work than since George W. took office," Spehar said.
"A child born today is already $24,000 in debt. We've got to reverse that trend, and (the debt) was decreasing until four or five years ago," he said.
The 3rd Congressional District race is one of four congressional seats being targeted by the national Republican and Democratic parties, Spehar said. But since Colorado Congressman Scott McInnis announced he would vacate the seat, a wide field of candidates has jumped to fill the seldom-open seat.
In a straw vote for U.S. Senate, all the delegates but two voted their support for Ken Salazar, the Colorado attorney general. The two dissenting delegates voted for Mike Miles, an educator from the Front Range.
Fetcher, a rancher from Clark, told the delegates he is running for state Senate because he thinks the state has taken too much power away from local governments, and he would like to give some back.
"We shifted too much of our control to Denver," he said.
Fetcher talked of finding balance between state and local control of schools, balance between wolves and the livestock industry, and balance between natural resource development and tourism.
Carwile told the delegates that Moffat County is going to become a model for how governments deal with land use issues across the country.
"Moffat County is going to be the focal point for how we formulate land use policy," Carwile said.
He described himself as a grassroots candidate and said programs such as the Colorado Northwest Stewardship were "right up my alley.
"If I'm at all effective as a commissioner, it will be because I'm a grass-roots person," he said.
The county Democrats adopted several resolutions to send to the state party for consideration.
Precinct 1 drafted a resolution stating the United Nations will assume the primary role as securer and provisional authority in Iraq. The resolution passed unanimously.
Precinct 2 wrote, "Be it resolved not to reintroduce wolves in Colorado." Christensen said Democrats in Denver likely would disagree with this resolution but said it was important for rural Democrats to voice their opinion. The resolution passed unanimously.
Precinct 3 drafted resolutions that access to affordable health care should be provided to all residents and legislation should be written to support air and water quality. Both resolutions passed unanimously.
Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.