Our View: Next time, ask voters for input

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Editorial Board, August through December 2010

  • Scott Stanford, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Blythe Terrell, city editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Rich Lowe, community representative
  • Sue Birch, community representative

Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@steamboatpilot.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

— When Republican Party leaders from Northwest Colorado met Monday night to choose a new state senator to replace Al White, they kept it in the family — literally and figuratively.

White, a Republican, stepped down as your Senate District 8 senator last month to accept a position as tourism czar in the administration of incoming Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper. A committee comprising local Republican Party officials from five counties selected White’s wife, Jean, from among five other hopefuls as his successor.

Colorado’s Senate District 8 includes Mof­fat, Routt, Rio Blanco and Eagle counties and part of Garfield County.

We perceive Jean White to be a bright, articulate individual who is familiar with the issues facing not only this region of the state, but also all of Colorado. We expect her to acquaint herself quickly at the state Legislature.

Unfortunately, we also think the process by which Republican leaders selected White to succeed her husband leaves the unfortunate impression that it was a de facto coronation and not a process that took into account the changing outlooks of rank-and-file party members in this part of the state.

The appearances were not improved by the fact that Jean White was a member of the selection committee until she stepped down to seek the state senate seat. It also didn’t help that she received the needed four votes after five rounds of secret voting.

As Jean White told the selection committee, she is well-connected with local officials across the district, a fact she thinks will allow her to make a quick start at her new responsibilities.

But the state senate seat from North­west Colorado is not the Whites’ seat; it’s the people’s seat. We think Jean White deserves the opportunity to go into the Legislature, not through a flawed process, but with the sense that she is the people’s choice.

White, who told selection committee members she intends to run for election in two years, will have a firm grasp on her party’s nomination in 2012. Ideally, we’d like to see the choice of a candidate to fill out a legislative term made through a party caucus system resulting in a straw vote that would guide leadership’s choice.

It’s all about giving Republican voters as much influence as possible over who their candidate for state Senate is beyond 2012.

It might take a Colorado assemblyman or senator of strong convictions to introduce legislation to that effect.

Comments

seeuski 3 years, 10 months ago

Wow, I couldn't agree with the Pilot more on this one. Who was represented here? The voters weren't.

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sledneck 3 years, 10 months ago

Seldom are the voters (and more importantly the tax-payers) represented properly but this is BS.

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 10 months ago

If the voters mattered then why put the reappointment in the hands of a Republican committee that represent well below half of the region's voters? By voter registration the reappointment committee should have included democrats and independents.

Al White was elected to the seat and he chose to leave the seat for a better job. If Al White had serious concerns about whom was going to be chosen to fill the seat then he could have decided to decline the job in the tourism office and stayed State Senator. Thus, the seat was vacant only because Al White considered the replacement process acceptable. What would we have said about the process if Al White had declined the job because he thought someone he considered unacceptable would be appointed? If Al White thinks the tourism office is important enough to join then he would disagree with his replacement that thought the tourism office should be abolished. The most challenging part of Al White's reelection was always the primary because he could count on solid independent and even some Democratic support.

And Jean White hardly has a lock on the 2012 Republican nomination for the seat because she can be criticized for how she got the seat and she'll have a voting record to attack. This is a relatively inexpensive area to campaign so her challengers will be able to gather sufficient resources to run viable campaigns.

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kathy foos 3 years, 10 months ago

I think something should be done "this time",no way should this "appointment stand with her holding that job without an election!I'm outraged and I'm a republican,recall her.People are tired of crooked politics.Being married to White should have disqualified her completely.He wants to influence things?This is terrible!!!!!!!

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 10 months ago

Oh yeah, since I am a registered Democrat that voted for Al White and his successor was picked by a bunch of Republicans then my vote was completely ignored by the process.

But apparently it is the opinion of this newspaper that only Republican "rank-and-file" party members should be consulted when deciding how to fill a vacant seat. If listening to the voters mattered then why not advocate for the independents and the Democrats that voted for Al White?

It is not written in stone that this is a Republican seat for the Republican party to do with as their rightwing wishes. Presumably, Al White could have made an agreement with the Democrats on whom would replace him and switched party affiliation so that it would have been a bunch of Democratic party hacks picking his replacement.

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Jeff_Kibler 3 years, 10 months ago

I would prefer a special election, similar to Mass. after Ted Kennedy died. And I wish Ritter would have declared a special election instead of appointing Bennet to the Senate.

Regardless, this situation doesn't appear to have a better remedy unless the Colorado Constitution is amended, to wit:

"Colorado

If there is a vacancy in the Colorado General Assembly, then the political party that last held the seat is responsible for selecting a replacement[11]. A vacancy committee consisting of members representing the political party holding the vacant seat must conduct an election to appoint a replacement. The person selected to fill the vacant seat must be approved by a majority of the members in the vacancy committee. The person who is selected to fill the vacancy remains in the seat until the next scheduled general election[12]. "

per: http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/How_vacancies_are_filled_in_state_legislatures#cite_note-10

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James Earley, MCSE 3 years, 10 months ago

Excellent job Jeff Kibler. Why wasn't that pertinent fact included with the above editorial? Pilot - you dropped the ball in my opinion.

An ounce of research prevents a pound of ranting...

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Fred Duckels 3 years, 10 months ago

There are lots of unhappy campers over this deal.

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Fred Duckels 3 years, 10 months ago

The Republican party fared well in the last election and the old guard would like to take the bows. It is the Tea Party that infused life into a listless organization, and the assimilation will not come without some pain. Unity will hopefully prevent the feeling of being left out next time.

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