Former Moffat County School Board president seeking legislative seat

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Jo Ann Baxter

Jo Ann Baxter, a former Moffat County School Board president, announced Thursday her candidacy for Colorado House District 57.

She intends to run as a Democrat.

Baxter, 71, filed her candidacy with Moffat County Elections Supervisor Stephanie Beckett on Thursday afternoon.

Baxter’s husband, Brian, was instrumental in her decision to join the race.

“He’s (Brian) been encouraging me to run for state office for years,” Baxter said. “He’ll be my chauffeur.

“We plan to campaign hard and we’re going to have a lot of fun doing it.”

State candidates typically affiliated with either of the two major political parties must either petition onto the primary ballot or be designated by a delegation during a state convention or assembly.

The Colorado Democratic Party state assembly and convention took place Saturday in Pueblo, but no one from within the party stepped up to run for HD 57, Baxter said.

When there is a vacancy, the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office allows a candidate to be designated to the primary ballot by a vacancy committee.

Anita Sherman, a Glenwood Springs Democrat, took it upon herself to recruit a candidate before the Secretary of State finalizes the primary ballot April 27, Baxter said.

Sherman first reached out “a few months ago, but I had my reservations at the time,” Baxter said.

She changed her mind earlier this week when she discovered Ron Roesener, a Republican from Parachute, failed to make the HD 57 primary ballot during the Colorado State Republican Convention April 13 and 14 in Denver.

Roesener’s unsuccessful bid opened the door for his opponent, Republican Bob Rankin of Glenwood Springs, to seemingly cruise into the legislature unchallenged.

“I don’t want this to be an uncontested race,” Baxter said. “I think it is important for the district to have choices.”

On Wednesday, five days after learning of Roesener’s fate, state and local Democrats convened by conference call for a vacancy hearing, and approved Baxter’s bid for the legislative seat.

David Morris, Moffat County Democratic Party secretary, signed off on the paperwork.

The designation of nomination by vacancy committee must be approved by the state before Baxter will know whether she will be on the ballot.

Beckett forwarded Baxter’s candidacy documents to the Secretary of State’s office at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.

“It shouldn’t take them too long to review her paperwork,” Beckett said. “I imagine they will tell us in the next day or two.”

Baxter said she had not formalized her campaign platform as of Thursday afternoon, but believes she has the experience to make it a competitive race.

“I have the credentials, I’ve served on school board, and I have the time,” Baxter said. “I plan to campaign hard, have fun and see what happens.”

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