Eagle County Democrats: Caucus still an important part of the democratic process (column) | VailDaily.com

Eagle County Democrats: Caucus still an important part of the democratic process (column)

Joy Harrison
Valley Voices

Joy Harrison

Now, more than ever, we need to be willing to step into the political realm and reclaim our endangered democracy. You can help ensure we have an effective and just political system by becoming a part of it — by attending your party's precinct caucus.

It's true that the precinct caucuses can be inconvenient, confusing and even chaotic. What Democratic Party caucusgoers in Colorado experienced two years ago was unexpected: Enthusiastic crowds were motivated to show up at what is usually a sedate neighborhood meeting. In many locations, attendance exceeded our volunteers' ability to manage the event in an orderly way.

Voters became disillusioned and retaliated by electing to eliminate the caucus as the process by which Democrats and Republicans alike select their nominees for president. That was an understandable outcome.

Still, there is a good case to make that caucus continues to be a relevant and essential part of the election cycle for both major parties. It is an important avenue for candidates running in all the other political races to access the primary ballot, and it is an opportunity to demand our 2018 candidates represent our values.

Democrats want leaders who will protect our Colorado way of life by conserving our natural resources and public lands, investing in education, creating good jobs, making health care affordable and respecting our immigrant communities.

On Tuesday, March 6, Democratic caucusgoers around the state will conduct a preference poll on the gubernatorial race. The poll results help determine who will become our Democratic nominee for governor. Democratic candidates in other 2018 races who are taking the caucus/assembly path to nomination are also seeking support. Delegates elected at the precinct level caucus will proceed to the county assembly. At the county level, delegates will again be selected to participate in other nominating assemblies, including the state party's.

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There are other reasons to participate besides selecting good candidates. Not the least is to simply get more involved politically. Caucus is where local citizens can step up, take charge and create change from within. Attending caucus is the easiest way to gain access to the various assemblies and committees that govern the party and its elections.

If you seek change, and truly want to shape and influence your political environment locally, statewide and even nationally, then start with attending your caucus. And if you are convinced the caucus process can be better managed, then consider volunteering with your local party and help make it run more smoothly.

The Eagle County Democratic Party caucuses are Tuesday, March 6, at eight locations around the county, including Vail, Red Cliff, Minturn, Eagle-Vail, Edwards, Eagle, Gypsum and El Jebel. Registration opens at 6 p.m. at all sites. Find your caucus location at our website at eagledems.org/find-your-caucus-location, or call the Eagle County Clerk and Recorder's office at 970-328-8715.

Note: In order to caucus, you must have been registered to vote and affiliated as a Democrat by Jan. 8 and registered at your current address by Feb. 5. Unaffiliated voters are not eligible to caucus, although they may attend as observers.

Joy Harrison is chairperson of the Eagle County Democratic Party.