‘You need to have your views heard’ | VailDaily.com

‘You need to have your views heard’

NWS Democrats Caucus SM 3-21

EAGLE COUNTY ” Fred Schmidt and Steve Taylor probably don’t agree on much. But neither is happy with the political state of the nation.

Schmidt, a Democrat from Eagle, and Taylor, a Republican from Edwards, ventured out in an early-spring snow storm to attend their respective party caucuses Tuesday. The events marked the start of both parties’ election season. Election Day is Nov. 7.

The meetings brought out a lot of current and former elected officials, and, of course, candidates.

Michael Bair, a Basalt Republican, hit the road hard Tuesday, attending meetings from Basalt to Avon. Dan Gibbs, who this week announced his candidacy for the Colorado House of Representatives district that includes Summit, Lake and Eagle counties, hit meetings in all three counties Tuesday.

“Even with the snow, I need to get out there,” Gibbs said.

Sara Fisher, a Gypsum Democrat running for Eagle County Commissioner, only had to go to one meeting ” the Democrats only had meetings in El Jebel and at Cordillera ” but said she was glad to be out.

“I’m getting to know new people and getting re-acquainted with old friends,” Fisher said.

Schmidt and his wife Nancy are among the new residents who Fisher asked for support. The Schmidts moved to Eagle Ranch just last summer, and said they’ve only recently decided to again become active in local politics.

“We used to be pretty active,” Schmidt said, showing off a short, gray ponytail. “But we got caught up making a living. With the state of the way things are now, you need to have your voice heard.”

Taylor, who came to the Republican caucus at Finnegan’s Wake in Avon to support Bair, said essentially the same thing.

“I’m interested in the political system, because it sucks,” Taylor said. While he was interested in the process, though, Taylor said he didn’t particularly want to be a delegate to the April county assembly.

The caucuses are the first step in the parties’ process, at which delegates ” many of whom support specific candidates ” are selected to go to the county assemblies in April. At those events, candidates who receive at least 30 percent of the delegates’ votes get put on the August primary ballot.

Party candidates who don’t get that support, or who choose to bypass the caucus and assembly system, can collect petition signatures to get on the ballot.

Former Eagle County Sheriff A.J. Johnson, who held that office for 20 years, has been to any number of the March meetings. He’s not running for anything ” at least not now ” but came out anyway.

“I always go to watch what’s going on,” Johnson said. “It’s important to be part of the process. You can complain or you can be involved.”

The feeling of helping make decisions early on is what drew Ernie and Jo Brown to Avon from their house in Homestead.

“I want to see the proper people get in,” Brown said. “As Americans, it’s our responsibility to be interested in how we run our county.”

For the Browns and Johnson, that interest takes a Republican slant, of course.

The Schmidts spent most of their lives in New York.

“You can’t come from New York and not be Democrats,” Nancy Schmidt said.

“I’m overdue about getting involved,” she said. “I’ve sat back and said ‘Why isn’t somebody doing something?'”

To which her husband quickly added, “I don’t want people telling me what to do. I want to have my views expressed.”

Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14624, or smiller@vaildaily.com.

Vail Daily, Vail Colorado

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