La Plata County Republicans energized in caucuses – The Durango Herald
Voters’ priorities include county land use code, education, state and national issues
Republicans showed up in force for Wednesday’s caucuses with an eye on local elections and a list of county priorities and state and national concerns.
Ahead of the November election, Republican voters are focused on county issues like the land use code, voting and education, and they strongly support Brad Blake’s return as District 1 Commissioner. State and national politics also brought out party voters, as they sought to pass local resolutions and voice their opposition to Liberal policies.
At VFW Post 4031 on Main Avenue, about 60 Republican voters made a priority list for the county.
Among these was a shared belief that the recent update to the La Plata County land use code was insufficient. Patrick Hegarty said the county’s land use code doesn’t do enough to allow people to develop their private property.
Hegarty hoped that Blake would work to reform the land use code so that it gave private landowners greater discretion over their ownership and allowed for greater development.
“Brad Blake is wonderful. He supports the development of common sense,” Hegarty said. “It’s essential to improving the county.”
Voters also expressed concern about the elections and their integrity.
Nora Montgomery said election security was one of her top priorities, calling for strict voter ID regulations. It was a sentiment shared by several others seated at the table in Montgomery’s Ward 10 and shared by Hegarty.
“Everything else in life that you have to show ID for,” Hegarty said.
La Plata County Republicans broadly support county clerk and recorder Tiffany Lee, an independent, who they say has done a good job maintaining the integrity of local elections.
Pandemic health and education policies emerged as two other targets for Republican voters during the evening, both at the VFW Post and at the Florida Grange on Colorado Highway 172.
“Education issues are at the forefront,” said Sidny Zink, president of Precinct 2.
Participants in both caucuses highlighted changes in school board elections, including the election of Republican school board officials and changes to the way school board members are elected. Expanding school choice and the belief that parents should have more say in what schools teach were also priorities.
At the Florida Grange, a group of about 30 Republicans gathered amid American flags to vote on resolutions that will be forwarded to La Plata County and the state GOP. These resolutions included initiatives to install cameras in classrooms to more closely monitor what is being taught in schools and a move to shift school board elections from general voting to district-specific voting.
The group also passed resolutions to eliminate repercussions based on vaccination status and limit intervention by government health agencies and public and personal health providers.
“There needs to be better public health surveillance of the San Juan Basin,” Hegarty told VFW.
State and national politics have also permeated the caucuses. Inflation, energy development and border security have all been topics of discussion and frustration with President Joe Biden and his administration.
Florida Grange Republicans have passed resolutions to end “wildlife by ballot” in Colorado, pointing to the state’s mandatory reintroduction of the wolf, which was widely supported by Front Range voters. They also passed a resolution to limit the scope of the governor’s emergency powers by giving the Legislature more leverage in emergency ordinances.
Across the board, Republican voters expressed strong support for Blake and a belief that the party can win the county commissioner and regional elections for Colorado House District 59 and Congressional District 3.
“If people hear (Blake), they’ll be convinced he has the best interests of the community at heart,” Zink said.
In an interview, Blake said he has felt great support in La Plata County so far.
“I had good support in the last election and barely failed,” he said. “But I feel like I’ve had great support in this round. I’ve spoken to a number of Democrats and independents who say they will absolutely support me and that’s very encouraging. is great news.
Republicans will also field at least one challenger in House District 59, where Shelli Shaw will face Democratic incumbent Barbara McLachlan, said La Plata County GOP Chairman Dave Peters.
With Democrats currently controlling all three county commissioners’ offices and House District 59, Peters was confident Republicans could win local elections.
“If we stick to our issues and start fighting inflation and things that hit people’s wallets, we will attract a lot of these unaffiliated voters,” he said in an interview. “We are still very competitive.
The confidence, focus and energy of Republicans were evident in the caucus.
Peters said attendance was up 60% from two years ago. When Peters asked new VFW caucus attendees to raise their hands, about 15 people did.
“There are a lot of people who are disenchanted,” Hegarty said, a general sentiment that Republicans in the caucuses have shared and see as an opportunity to elect Republican officials.
Deborah Flora, a Republican challenger to Sen. Michael Bennett, gave a fiery speech at the VFW bolstering Republican motivation.
“Who here is tired of losing?” Flora asked for nods and voices of agreement. She argued that Republicans can take over Colorado’s Senate seat.
“This is our year to do it,” she said.
The optimism shared by Republicans at the VFW was palpable.
“The Republican Party is really active,” Hegarty said. “People are very motivated.