Grand County caucuses will kick off midterm election season
To find out your precinct or if you’re registered to vote go to http://www.co.grand.co.us/147/Elections.
Grand County Republican Party: grandgop.org
Grand County Democratic Party: Grandcountydems.org
This year is a midterm election year, which means that across the country precincts will be meeting to hold their Democratic and Republican caucuses. In Grand County, the Democratic caucus will take place virtually on March 1, and the Republican caucus will take place in-person on March 5.
Participating in the precinct caucus is a great way for residents to guide which issues and candidates a party will endorse. At the caucus, participants elect fellow residents as delegates to the Grand County Assembly. During the assembly, the delegates vote on which candidates will appear on the June 28 primary ballot. In the primary, candidates will compete for a seat in the general election in November.
John Mintken, Chair of the Grand County Republican Party, said the best option to join the political process is by becoming a delegate.
“It’s not hard to become a delegate up here, because there aren’t too many people,” he said. “That’s how you elect who you want to run, who you want to represent you.”
Once a person is selected as a delegate for the county assembly, they also have an opportunity to become delegates at the state level.
“We get 19 delegates to represent Grand County at the state assembly,” Mintken said. Although that number seems small, Mintken said the number of delegates is based on population.
To participate as a member of the caucus or be selected as a delegate, a person must be a resident in their precinct and be a registered voter with their party as of Feb. 7. However, everyone is encouraged to attend the caucuses. Even if someone can’t participate, it is still a great way to learn about the political process.
“Even Democrats can come and listen,” Mintken said of the Republican Caucus.
Equally important as electing delegates, precinct caucuses allow participants to vote on issues they would like to see on the ballot, and to hear from candidates running for local office.
“One of the benefits of rural communities like ours is we get to ask a lot of questions and have one-on-one time (with candidates),” said Zachariah James Falconer-Stout, Co-Chair of the Grand County Democratic Party. “We’re not voting on the president, but there are a lot of important races we’re participating in.”
Two candidates who will be present at Democratic caucus are Rep. Julie McCluskie, who is running for House District 13, and Rep. Dylan Roberts, who is running for Senate District 8.
At the Grand County Democrats Feb. 21 meeting, Roberts and McCluskie discussed the issues they are working on, such health care policy, Western Slope water needs, and the underfunded education system.
“We are always trying to take care of the most vulnerable among us … focusing on affordability issues that are challenging those of us that love our small communities,” Rep. McCluskie said.
Currently, Rep. Roberts is working on a bill studying the negative impacts of transmountain water diversions on Grand Lake.
“With the devastating wildfires, drier summers, and hotter winters, water will be the most pressing issue at state level,” he said.
Roberts is also working on a bill to allow counties to use funds from lodging tax to create affordable housing, workforce child care, or other programs mountain towns need.
“If we don’t do something transformational about our housing crisis, child care needs, and overall cost of living, we are going to lose … the workers we need to keep the character of our communities the way we love them,” Roberts said.
Mintken stated his party is also concentrating on the housing crisis during their caucus.
“Our main issue is affordable housing, which comes down to why we vote for certain people, like the commissioner,” Mintken said. “Everyone in our county is looking for help. We can’t find anyone to work up here since they can’t afford to live there. … Or if they do find somewhere to live, it’s a room for $1,500 (a month) or something like that.”
Although the caucus is small, it is the best way for residents to influence the issues they care about, such as the housing crisis and water conservation.
“The caucus is most important for local issues,” Mintken said, adding that several local candidates will be present at their precinct caucuses.
“It’s important to let everyone know that the best way to get involved and make a difference is through this caucus system,” Mintken said. “In order to make a change, you have … to get your voice heard. It’s so important, whether you are Republican or Democrat, to just get involved.”
Falconer-Stout conceded that the very issues candidates are tackling, such as lack of child care and affordable housing, might affect someone’s ability to become politically involved.
“But it is a fundamental right of all people … to be able to participate,” he said. “Democracy functions best when people are involved in healthy, constructive ways.”
The Democratic caucus will take place virtually for all precincts on March 1 at 7 p.m. The Zoom link is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87643105085. Phone call-in numbers will also be available by contacting the Grand County Democrats at email@example.com, for those who don’t have access to Zoom.
The Republican caucus will take place on March 5 at 7 p.m. at the following locations: precincts 1 and 10 at the Grand Lake Center, precincts 2 and 3 at the Granby Library, precincts 4 and 5 at the Kremmling Extension Hall, precincts 6, 7, 9, 11 and 12 at the East Grand Fire Station in Fraser, and precinct 8 at the Hot Sulphur Springs Town Hall.
The Republican County Assembly is March 19 at 1 p.m. at Middle Park High School. Anyone can attend the assemblies, but only delegates are able to vote.
“We’re having our assembly earlier than most counties, so we will have politicians who want to speak at ours,” Mintken said.
There will be some state-level candidates speaking, such as Greg Lopez, former mayor of Parker, who is running for governor. However, Mintken stated no candidates are set in stone.
The Democrat County Assembly will be held in-person on March 12 at 1 p.m. at Middle Park High School.
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