2004 election begins with caucuses | VailDaily.com

2004 election begins with caucuses

Veronica Whitney

Voters in Eagle County this month have their first shot at this year’s election when they choose Republican and Democratic delegates, April 13.

The delegates will have a say on who will be each parties’ candidates for county commissioner and, some, could even make it to the Democratic and Republican national conventions, where the presidential candidates will be nominated.

“People who participate in the caucus have a voice and vote in the nomination process,” said Debbie Marquez, a chairwoman of the Eagle County Democratic Party.

Both parties hold precinct caucuses, April 13.

This year, there are two county commission seats up for election. District 1, which covers Vail, Minturn, Red Cliff and parts of Avon, Eagle-Vail and Edwards and District 2, comprising parts of Avon, Edwards and Eagle.

Currently, Democrat Michael Gallagher holds District 1 seat and Democrat Arn Menconi holds the seat for District 2.

Gallagher is so far the only one facing a challenge from somebody in his party – Peter Runyon, a Democrat from Edwards, has announced his intentions run for Gallagher’s seat. Richard De Clark will challenge from the Republican side.

Menconi is so far the only Democrat running for the District 2 seat – he will be challenged on Nov. 4 by Republican A.J. Johnson, who was sheriff for 20 years before term limits forced him from office, and Avon Mayor Buz Reynolds, who is running as an independent.

But there’s still time for people to announce their candidacy, Eagle County Clerk Teak Simonton said. “There’s potential for surprises,” she said. “Some people have announced their candidacy during the county assembly.”

The goal of the caucuses is to select precinct committee persons and delegates to county assemblies. The county assembly is one way for a candidate to make it to the Aug. 10 primary.

“Traditionally, the caucuses have not been well attended, which is unfortunate,” Simonton said. “This is the grass roots of the political process, your chance to make a difference for Eagle County.”

Registered electors who have been affiliated with either political party for at least 60 days and have lived within the precinct for at least 30 days prior to the caucus can vote, Simonton said. Also, those interested in serving as election judges can sign up to do so at the caucuses.

“We don’t see a lot of people participating in caucuses, but two years ago, 75 percent of the people who voted on a ballot to eliminate caucuses in Colorado voted not to eliminate it,” said Ron Howell, a chairman of the Eagle County Republican Party.

Delegates selected at the caucuses will attend the county assembly for their respective parties. “The party delegates play a key role in the nomination selection process,” Simonton said.

To make it to the primary, a candidate has to get at least 30 percent of the votes at the general assembly. The primary election narrows a broad field of candidates to one candidate from each party for each available position.

At the Aug. 10 primary, voters will decide which candidate they want on the ballot on the Nov. 4 general election.

In addition to the commissioners race, there may be district level, state representative and state level races as well to be decided at the primary, Simonton said.

Those candidates then face-off against the candidates from other parties or those running independently in the November general election.

“Voters who choose to affiliate with a political party are able to vote in their party’s primary election,” Simonton said.

Unaffiliated voters have the option of choosing a party for the purpose of voting at the primary if they choose. Changing your party affiliation can be done at any time by submitting a new voter registration application, available by any of the means identified above, or by submitting a personal letter, dated and signed, to the Eagle County Clerk and Recorder.

“If you do not choose to affiliate with a political party you will not be able to participate in the primary process,” Simonton said.

Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454 or at vwhitney@vaildaily.com.

The caucuses

Both parties hold caucuses on April 13.

Democratic Caucus

All 25 county precincts will meet in one location, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Cordillera Valley Club, Golf Course Club House, Chaparral Restaurant, 0101 Legends Drive, Edwards.

At 6 p.m. there will be an optional $15 soup and salad meal and election preview presentation and registration.

At 7 p.m., voters will breakout into respective precincts for caucus.

Republican Caucuses

April 13

• Gypsum- Precincts 26, 23, 6 and 9; 6 to 7 p.m. at the Gypsum Town Hall, 0050 Lundgren Blvd., Gypsum.

• Eagle – Precincts 16, 5 and 27; 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Eagle County Building, 500 Broadway, Eagle.

• Burns – Precinct 10; 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., Burns Baptist Church, 22545 Colorado River Road, Burns.

• McCoy – Precinct 11; 5 to 6 p.m. at the McCoy Community Center, 26 McCoy Road, McCoy.

• Edwards – Precincts 20, 21 and 29; 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Berry Creek Middle School, 1000 Miller Ranch Road, Edwards.

• Edwards – Precincts 22, 28 and 4; 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Edwards Elementary, 0112 Meile Lane, Edwards.

• Avon – Precincts 17, 18, 15 and 19; 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Avon Elementary School, 0850 Beaver Creek Blvd., Avon.

• Vail – Precincts 2, 13, 14 and 12; 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Vail Library, 292 West Meadow Drive, Vail.

• Minturn – Precinct 3; 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Minturn Town Hall, 302 Pine St., Minturn.

• Red Cliff – Precinct 1; 6 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Red Cliff Town Hall, 400 Pine St., Red Cliff.

For more information, call Teak Simonton, Eagle County Clerk and Recorder at 328-8728.

County assemblies

• Eagle County Democratic Assembly & Convention – 6 p.m. April 23, Eagle County Building, 500 Broadway, Eagle.

Contact Debbie Marquez at dmarquez@eaglecountydemocrats.org

• Republican County Assembly – 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. April 24 at the Eagle County Building, 500 Broadway, Eagle.

Contact Ron Howell at ronhowell@eaglecountyrepublicans.org for more information.

Voting facts

If you are a United States citizen by birth or naturalization, 18-years-old or more and a resident of Eagle County for 30 days or more you can register to vote.

Six easy ways to register to vote

• Colorado Driver’s License – When you renew or get a new Colorado license.

• County Offices – Eagle County Clerk and Recorder’s Offices, fill out the application in person in Avon, Eagle or El Jebel.

• Post Offices – Pick up a voter registration application at your local post office and mail to the Eagle County address on the back of the form.

• Town Offices – Complete a voter registration application at your town offices.

• Mailed to You – Call the Eagle County elections coordinator to have a voter registration application mailed directly to you. Call 328-8715.

• On-line – Go to http://www.eaglecounty.us, click on ‘County Services’, Clerk and Recorder. Because your voter registration record must include an original signature, print out the form to be completed and either mail or deliver it to one of the entities above.

If you are unsure about the status of your voter registration call Helen Lindow, elections coordinator, 328-8715.

Delegates to national party conventions will be picked

By Veronica Whitney

Daily Staff Writer

The selection process for delegates to the Democratic and Republican presidential conventions begins locally April 13.

Democratic and Republican who attend their parties caucuses that day will choose delegates to the county assembly. At the county assembly, delegates will be elected to go to the each parties’ state conventions, where delegates will be selected to go to the national conventions, where the two presidential candidates will be formally nominated.

This year, the Democrats are meeting in Boston and the Republicans in New York.

“That’s when the final delegates vote for their presidential nominees,” said Debbie Marquez, a chairwoman of the Eagle County Democratic Party.

At the caucuses, both parties will elect 126 delegates to the county assembly, of those, 36 will go to the state conventions. From there, 64 Coloradans will go to the each parties’ national convention.

“Our delegation has to be balanced between men and women and we have an affirmative action target,” Marquez said.

Ron Howell, a chairman of the Eagle County Republican Party, said it’s important to vote at caucuses because then the local party gets delegates for the state and national assemblies.

“By voting at caucus, you can actively participate in who your county chooses,” said Heather Lemon, who is running to represent Eagle, Summit and Lake counties in the state House of Representatives. “Otherwise, how do you get your voice heard? One way is to vote and another is to be a delegate.”

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