Democrats hunker down for debate

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— The Routt County Democratic Party won't have a primary election in August, nor will it have candidates to oppose local Republicans for county treasurer, coroner, clerk or recorder positions. But local Democrats said Saturday they couldn't be more excited about the three candidates they have.

At the Routt County Demo-cratic County Assembly on Saturday, 66 delegates elected Diane Mitsch Bush as their candidate for District 3 county commissioner, Gary Wall as the candidate for sheriff and Mike Kerrigan as the candidate for county assessor.

Routt County Democratic Par-ty chairman Ken Brenner said he thinks the three candidates will fare well against their Republican opponents.

"I can't imagine us being able to nominate three stronger candidates. It won't be difficult for them to find support from the entire Democratic Party," Brenner said. "I did promise we'd contest every race, but that will be our goal for next time."

Brenner tried to persuade a last-minute candidate to emerge Saturday, but no one stepped forward.

The three candidates who spoke Saturday received strong support from delegates.

An energetic Mitsch Bush told the assembly she has what it takes to lead Routt County into the future.

"I am running for county commissioner because I love Routt County. I have the vision, the countywide experience and the countywide and regional leadership style needed to be an effective commissioner for the 21st century," she said.

"I will be your effective, ethical, accountable, proactive, full-time county commissioner for all of Routt County."

Mark Fisher, a Steamboat attorney, introduced sheriff candidate Gary Wall. If Wall is elected sheriff, the residents of Routt County would be able to respect and trust law enforcement Fisher said.

"The sheriff does not have to be the enemy of the people. (Wall) will bring a new style of leadership to the Sheriff's Office, where we will finally be able to respect law enforcement and trust them," he said.

Fisher said Wall has proposed setting up an office in the Routt County Courthouse so the public will not have to go "through two locked and barred doors to get to your sheriff."

Wall said he is eager to make a change in the way officers approach law enforcement and the residents of the county.

"I'm going to have respect for all the employees (of the Sheriff's Office) and the jobs they accomplish. I'm not going to manage them with intimidation," Wall said.

"Likewise, I'm going to make sure these officers respect and protect your civil liberties and rights. They're not going to intimidate you into relinquishing those rights," he said.

Mike Kerrigan told delegates that although being county assessor "isn't really a partisan job," he would be proud to be elected as a Democrat.

Kerrigan said he is eager to be fair and maintain the continuity that his predecessor has provided during the past 17 years.

"I offer you my experience. I offer you my dedication. I offer you my commitment and myself in that capacity," he said. "I would be very proud that the next county assessor would be a Democrat and that it would be me."

Kerrigan also said he planned to make minor changes if elected county assessor, most of which would be technological advancements.

Between hearing from local candidates and those who spoke on behalf of state and national Democratic candidates, the assembly passed 40 resolutions drafted during the March caucus.

Linda Lewis, a resolution committee member, said Satur-day's lively debates and discussions about the resolutions highlighted the assembly.

"The whole purpose of the caucus was to give everyone a say. It's such a democratic thing ... it was very exciting," she said.

The assembly passed all the national and state resolutions, which covered topics such as energy issues, environmental iss-ues, health care, national security, education, oil and gas development, drug and alcohol issues and women's rights.

The assembly passed four local resolutions concerning environmental con--scious--ness in building, mobile home owner rights to purchase the land that their homes sit on, gravel pits and designing and creating bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly roads.

The only resolution that failed was one that expressed support for Steamboat Springs Airport. Several delegates arg-ued that taxpayers waste their money on an airport that is not an economic asset to the community and one that serves only 1 percent of the population. The resolution failed overwhelmingly.


-- To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

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