Steamboat Springs South Routt School Board President Tim Corrigan emerged from Tuesday night’s Routt County Democratic caucus as the clear front-runner to have his named placed directly on the June 26 primary ballot in the race for the District 1 county commissioner seat.
Corrigan gained the support of 74 of the 119 registered Democrats who took part in caucus meetings across the county Tuesday.
Oak Creek Mayor Nikki Knoebel received the support of 25 people. Twenty others indicated that they were uncommitted.
Routt County Democratic Party Chairwoman Catherine Carson said there still is ample time for the race between Knoebel and Corrigan to tighten.
“Tonight’s votes are not binding,” Carson said.
“I would expect that both candidates will get in touch with the delegates to the assembly and discuss their views and their strengths with them.”
Still, the outcome of the preference poll suggests that Knoebel has work to do if she hopes to claim the right to have her name automatically placed on the primary ballot when the Democrats convene again March 31 at the Steamboat Springs Community Center for their assembly.
Corrigan’s share of the Democrats taking part in the caucus preference poll was 62 percent, compared to 21 percent for Knoebel and 17 percent who were uncommitted.
Caucus turnout in South Routt was low, but Corrigan won the support of 16 potential delegates there, and Knoebel attracted just two.
Both candidates need to win the votes of at least 30 percent of the delegates to the assembly to automatically have their names placed on the primary ballot. Should Knoebel hang on to 15 percent of the delegates, she still could attempt to petition her way onto the primary ballot. The final number of delegates had not been determined Tuesday night.
Three Republican candidates, Jim “Moose” Barrows, Brita Horn and Tony Stich, also are vying for their party’s nod to fill the District 1 commissioner seat being vacated by longtime Republican Nancy Stahoviak.
Corrigan and Knoebel both attended the super caucus Tuesday at the Colorado Mountain College gymnasium in Steamboat Springs, where 88 of the total 119 Democrats who turned out Tuesday night were gathered.
Corrigan praised those in attendance for their willingness to get involved.
“Thank you for coming out tonight and being part of this process,” Corrigan said. “I believe that a lot of the criticism of government is unfounded. I think we get the government we deserve — unfortunately, one that is often indifferent to the needs of its citizens.
“We need more people like you that take the time to participate in the nuts and bolts of the democratic process, elect the right people to office and hold them accountable.”
Knoebel said that during her tenure as mayor of Oak Creek, she had learned how important it is to spend every dollar carefully.
“As mayor of Oak Creek, I have been an instrumental team member in making tough, fiscally responsible decisions about running a struggling municipality on a limited budget,” Knoebel said. “Those same qualities hold true in my position as special events manager at Catamount Ranch & Club. Being held accountable for wise budget decisions is nothing new to me.”
Knoebel said she has learned the importance of small-business people in Colorado cities and towns.
“With extremely limited financial resources with which to attract new commerce to our area, I want to make sure that every dollar is spent wisely, with the greatest promise of return,” she said. “Even more important is to value those hard-working small-business people that already make up the lion’s share of our local economy. I believe in hard work, educated decisions and teamwork.”
Corrigan told the caucus attendees that he wants to add vision to the Routt County’s mission statement that calls on its elected officials to deliver a balance of services and infrastructure to provide a safe and healthy place to live.
“During my service on the Soroco School Board, I learned the importance of defining a mission statement that would guide the actions of our board, and of all the stakeholders in the school district,” Corrigan said. “We gathered together students, parents teachers, staff members and community members to not only define what our mission was but also the vision and values that support that mission.”
What may be missing from the county is a vision statement, Corrigan told his audience.
“I don’t claim ownership of what our vision for Routt County should be. I have some ideas,” Corrigan said. “Together we can take the time to create a real vision of what we think life in Routt County should look like five, 10, 50, even 100 years into the future. We have that obligation not only to future generations but ourselves as well.”
It’s likely that the numbers for Corrigan and Knoebel will change by the time they arrive at the assembly, if for no other reason than no more than 100 people can be named assembly delegates.
Carson did not know Tuesday night how many of those attending the caucuses would seek to become delegates.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com