Eagle County caucus isn’t that complex | VailDaily.com

Eagle County caucus isn’t that complex

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY ” The public is not very well educated when it comes to politics, and that includes Amanda Precourt, the Eagle-Vail resident admitted.

“We get complacent about voting,” Precourt said. “There are so many complaints about government, but not too many of us actually get involved.”

She does plan to vote in this year’s presidential elections and is interested to see the result of the Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama face-off, she said.

On Feb. 5, Eagle County residents will have a chance to be involved in grassroots government through the county caucuses, where party delegates will be chosen who attend the county assembly and state convention. There they will decide who will run for county and state government positions, and ultimately the presidential nominees.

“A caucus is a gathering of politically aligned people from the major parties to select leadership for the organization for the next two years,” said County Clerk and Recorder Teak Simonton. “It’s a chance to talk about the issues facing the county and nationally, to get to know one another, and to step up to roles in the county.”

Anyone who has been registered with the Republican or Democratic party since Dec. 5 can participate in the caucuses.

Many people do not know much about the caucuses, but they are truly the start of the political process, said Vail Republican Mike Mathias.

“It’s the political process that starts right in your neighborhood,” he said.

This is the first year a presidential straw poll will be held at the caucuses. Each attending member will get a vote on the presidential candidates. The results of the polls will be gathered by state party officials.

“The poll doesn’t have any binding effects. This is just to gauge who is popular in the state of Colorado,” said Randy Milhoan, chairman of the Eagle County Republicans.

The results will be available the night of the caucuses.

“We don’t have primary until August, so this is a way to get in our two cents,” said Eagle County Democrats Vice-Chair Carole Onderdonk.

Local party leaders, such as precinct leaders for the county’s 30 precincts, are chosen.

“Precinct leaders help organize their areas, talk to neighbors and make phone calls ” the very grassroots efforts,” Onderdonk said.

Those precinct leaders also represent the county at the county assembly, where county commission candidates will be chosen and delegates will be chosen to go on to the state assembly, where the presidential nominees are voted on.

Several state positions are also up for the vote this year, including Eagle County’s seat in the House of Representatives (District 56), which was recently vacated by Democrat Dan Gibbs, and Eagle County’s state Senate seat (District 8), currently held by term-limited Republican Jack Taylor.

“This is a big election, and there’s a lot of stuff going on,” Onderdonk said. “So this caucus could be a lot bigger than past years.”

The number of people who show up at caucuses vary every year, Milhoan said, but he hopes the open positions will draw a big turnout .

“There aren’t enough people who take an active role in choosing our leaders as it is. This is the smallest level of government and allows people to have a say,” Milhoan said.

Eagle County Republican Muhammed Ali Hasan will be running for the state House of Representatives and Hayden Republican Al White will be running for the state Senate.

Both of those candidacies will be officially accepted at the county assembly meeting on Feb. 25.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

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