Changing the guard

County political groups meet to elect new officers

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— Local political machinery is winding up again.

After a three-month hiatus following November's election, Routt County Democrats and Republicans get back to business this week, holding meetings to elect officers who will lead the county parties for the next two years.

The Routt County Republican Central Committee meets at noon today in the Routt County Courthouse Annex, while the Routt County Democratic Party meets at 6 p.m. today in the Ridge Road home of Kathy and Bill Moser.

Both parties likely will see shake-ups in leadership.

Republican Party chairwoman Jennifer Schubert-Akin announced last month she is not seeking another term because of her desire for more personal time and pursuit of other activities. The party's nominating committee, which includes state Sen. Jack Taylor of Steamboat and Routt County Treasurer Jeanne Whiddon, has nominated Steamboat attorney Vance Halvorson to fill Schubert-Akin's shoes.

Steamboat Springs City Council member Paul Strong, who is one of three vice chairpersons for county Republicans, said he chose not to step in as chairman.

"The nominating committee has nominated me for treasurer," Strong said Monday. "They nominated me for chair, but I declined. City Council is supposed to be nonpartisan. I think having the chair of both parties on City Council would be counterproductive."

City Council member Ken Brenner is chairman of the Routt County Democratic Party and has said he hopes to begin another two-year term today. Several county Democratic positions are yet to be decided.

"We're going to have a few new officers," Brenner said last week.

Nominations for officers will be accepted from the floor at both meetings, which give Routt County citizens a chance to get involved in county politics at a grassroots level.

"We always strongly encourage anyone interested in politics, and obviously Republican politics, to show up and participate - there are many committees to serve on and plenty of events coming up," Schubert-Akin said. "Joining a committee or attending these meetings helps you get to know some of the people involved and get to know how the process works."

Lynn Abbott, secretary for the county Democrats, focused on a November election that saw strong Democratic wins in local, state and national races.

"With the momentum we gained during the election : we have a terrific opportunity to shape the next two years," Abbott wrote in an e-mail to local party members. "This is your chance to get in on the ground floor with your ideas and energy."

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