Political group proposes candidates

Club 20 lobbies for Western representation

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Area political group Club 20 made another pitch to Gov. Bill Ritter on Wednesday, lobbying for the appointment of a Western Slope candidate to the new governor's cabinet.

In a letter sent to Ritter, Club 20 submitted three "widely respected Western Slope leaders," for the governor's consideration as executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation. The letter comes almost two weeks after Club 20 criticized the lack of Western Slope representation on Ritter's cabinet, and a day before a scheduled meeting with Ritter at the state Capitol.

"We know that you are taking seriously our request for more geographic diversity on your cabinet, along with the many other factors that weigh into this important decision as you consider your final cabinet appointment," Club 20 executive director Reeves Brown wrote.

Club 20's letter comes amid criticism of Ritter for not appointing any Western Slope representatives to cabinet positions. Of his 13 appointments, 13 are from east of the Continental Divide and at least 10 from the Front Range.

Club 20, a non-partisan, Western Slope coalition of officials, residents and business owners from 22 counties, did not name the individuals submitted for the governor's consideration for the CDOT position. Brown said he would not comment on the prospective candidates, but he said each of them "would be very capable and very qualified," to lead the state transportation department.

"It's symbolic and it's practical," Brown said. "The criticism of Bill Ritter coming into office was that he was Denver-centric and not engaged in the arena of statewide policy. ... He could use this opportunity to absolutely vaporize that criticism and send a symbolic message: 'Not only do I hear and understand the (Western Slope) concerns, but I care about them.'"

Club 20 was slated to meet with Ritter for 30 minutes at 8 a.m. this morning in Denver. The visit is part of the group's annual two-day legislative visit.

Brown said he didn't expect today's conversation with Ritter would center on, or even cover, the governor's appointments.

"We've sent that message to the governor already," Brown said. "I believe he's already committed to achieving that geographic diversity. We don't need to waste time talking to him about this again."

While critical of Ritter's appointments, Brown described the governor's cabinet as "stellar," and comprised of "incredible leaders." He also said the political group is committed to supporting "whoever he picks, wherever they call home."

"We look forward to participating with the governor and his cabinet on fulfilling the Colorado Promise," Brown said of Ritter's campaign message, which pledged to work on behalf of all state residents.

Instead, the conversation will be tailored to issues of concern to the Western Slope, Brown said. He listed energy development, affordable and accessible health care, higher education and broadband Internet access as issues of importance to Club 20.

The club also has panel discussions scheduled for Thursday and Friday with legislative leaders on energy impact funds, election reform and state transportation infrastructure needs.

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