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Heidi McCollum coasts to win in 5th Judicial DA race

After seven years serving as the No. 2 prosecutor in the sprawling 5th Judicial District, Heidi McCollum is set to become the region’s next district attorney.

Preliminary results showed McCollum handily winning Tuesday’s Democratic primary against Braden Angel, a former deputy DA in the district.

As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, McCollum had 67.4% of the vote with 14,772 votes in the district that encompasses Clear Creek, Eagle, Summit and Lake counties.

In Eagle County, where McCollum and Angel both reside, McCollum had 5,109 votes to Angel’s 2,552.

“I appreciate the support of everyone in the 5th Judicial District,” McCollum said Tuesday after being reached at a watch party. “I’ve always tried to do the right thing for the people involved in any given case, whether that’s for the victim, for the defendant, or for the community. And I will continue to always try to treat every case individually taking into account the needs of everyone involved and ultimately doing what’s best for the community.”

McCollum becomes the fourth acting female district attorney in the state.

“I never thought of myself as a trailblazer, per se, but I’m proud to be able to step into the position of being able to run in a general election as a female district attorney,” she said. “I’m very honored.”

Both candidates ran campaigns that emphasized restorative justice and prioritizing treatment options over jail in communities where behavioral health and addiction issues are prevalent. Both also stressed outreach to under-represented communities like Eagle County’s Latinx population.

McCollum, 49, has spent most of her life in Eagle County. She’s a graduate of Eagle Valley High School who went to Mesa State College before attending law school at Chapman University in California. She interned with the 5th Judicial District after law school before going into private practice for a few years. She has been the assistant district attorney under Bruce Brown, who is term-limited, since 2013 and during that time has prosecuted some of Eagle County’s most high-profile cases, including the cases of Richard Miller and Allison Marcus, the couple convicted of starting the massive Lake Christine Fire.

McCollum looks all but certain to be the next DA in the sprawling district since no Republican entered the field for the primary and the party cannot appoint one for the general election. A write-in candidate or an independent candidate could still emerge before the general election in November.

Angel, 39, received an endorsement from Eagle County Sheriff James van Beek earlier this week but failed to win over a majority of voters. Among other things, he said he’d create a more diverse outfit of prosecutors and reduce turnover in the office.

John Hickenlooper claims decisive win in Democratic primary for U.S. Senate

DENVER — Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper won the Democratic nomination Tuesday to face Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in November, overcoming a series of stumbles and beating back a challenge from his left.

Hickenlooper’s defeat of former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff was the second win by a centrist Democrat in a Senate primary Tuesday, after a late vote count from last week’s Kentucky Senate primary gave Amy McGrath the win over State Rep. Charles Booker. Romanoff is a former moderate who turned himself into a populist, running against the moderate favorite of the Democratic establishment and promising a Green New Deal and single-payer health care.

But he could not overcome both Hickenlooper’s immense financial edge — the former governor out-raised Romanoff by about 7-to-1 — and his deep name ID and reservoir of goodwill among voters stemming from two terms in the governor’s mansion.

That’s why Senate Democrats recruited Hickenlooper, 68, to take on Gardner, widely seen as the most vulnerable Republican in the Senate. Democrats need to net three seats in November to win control of the chamber if they win the White House, and they see Colorado as their most promising opportunity. Senate Democrats convinced Hickenlooper to run as his ill-fated bid for the Democratic presidential nomination fizzled last summer.

Hickenlooper’s relatively easy win against Romanoff, Democrats argue, showed his resilience as a candidate whom Coloradans trust as a gaffe-prone, but authentic, leader.

“I’ve never lost an election in this state and I don’t intend to lose this one,” Hickenlooper said Tuesday night as he previewed his line of attack against Gardner: “We know what Donald Trump told us himself: Cory Gardner is with him 100% of the time.”

In an interview, Gardner previewed how he intends to fight back. In contrast to Hickenlooper’s attempt to link the election to national issues like Trump, the coronavirus pandemic and collapsing economy, Gardner rattled off some of his recent accomplishments — luring the headquarters of U.S. Space Command and the Bureau of Land Management to Colorado and passing a sweeping public lands bill.

“I’m with the people of Colorado 100% of the time,” Gardner, 45, said.

The Republican Senator also called Hickenlooper “the most corrupt governor in the history of Colorado.” It was a reference to the state ethics commission finding in early June that Hickenlooper violated the state’s ethics law by failing to reimburse for a private plane flight and limousine ride while he was governor. Hickenlooper had refused to testify during a virtual hearing, insisting on an in-person one, earning a contempt citation from the nonpartisan commission.

The ethics case was part of a miserable final stretch for Hickenlooper in June. Amid the protests over police violence against Black people, Hickenlooper garbled the meaning of the slogan “Black Lives Matter.” The following week, an African American Romanoff supporter tweeted a 6-year-old video of Hickenlooper jokingly comparing politicians to slaves being whipped to row “an ancient slave ship.”

The combination of the gaffes and setbacks was enough to lure Republicans to launch millions of dollars in ads attacking Hickenlooper. Democrats responded with defensive ads, and Romanoff then jumped in and added his own attack ad versus the former governor.

Colorado’s Democratic establishment, from Gov. Jared Polis to Sen. Michael Bennet, condemned Romanoff for the move. Then, days later, a big-money group that will not disclose its donors launched a $1 million ad campaign slamming Romanoff for spearheading an anti-illegal immigrant bill in 2006. Romanoff has since apologized for the bill.

Republicans always expected Hickenlooper to win the primary, though many rooted for Romanoff and the GOP hopes that Hickenlooper has been banged up enough to give Gardner a chance in the November election.

But Colorado Democrats are eager to oust Gardner. Romanoff quickly called Hickenlooper to congratulate him on the victory after polls closed Tuesday evening. “For all the differences that we had, and there were many in this race, I am equally committed to making sure Cory Gardner is a one-term senator,” Romanoff told supporters during a virtual victory party on Zoom.

No Republican has won a statewide election in Colorado since 2014, when Gardner won by less than 2 percentage points in a strong year for Republicans. Hickenlooper was reelected as governor that year by a wider margin.

Political newcomer Lauren Boebert beats incumbent Scott Tipton in CD3 Republican primary

Rifle restaurant owner and staunch gun rights advocate Lauren Boebert pulled off the upset of the night in Tuesday’s Colorado Primary elections, defeating five-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton for the party’s nomination in the 3rd Congressional District.

“Our freedom and our Constitutional rights are on the ballot this November and Republicans just sent a loud and clear message that they want me there to fight for them,” Boebert said in a statement, issued from her campaign watch party in Grand Junction.

As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, Boebert had earned 54.5% of the vote among Republican voters throughout the sprawling 3rd Congressional District, which includes the population centers of Grand Junction, Pueblo, Montrose and Durango.

Tipton held a slight advantage over Boebert in her home county of Garfield, but it was a virtual dead heat with Tipton carrying 50.1% to Boebert’s 49.9%. Tipton held the lead among Pitkin County voters with 544 votes to Boebert’s 279 votes, as of the 9:15 p.m. update from Pitkin County Clerk Janice Vos Caudill.

Boebert is the owner of Shooters Grill in Rifle, which has become widely known for allowing its wait staff to open carry.

“I joined this race because thousands of ordinary Americans just like me are fed-up with politics as usual,” she said. “Colorado deserves a fighter who will stand up for freedom, who believes in America and who is willing to take on all the left-wing lunatics who are trying so hard to ruin our country.” 

Shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday, Tipton’s campaign conceded the race.

“3rd District Republicans have decided who they want to run against the Democrats this November,” Tipton said in a statement. “I want to congratulate Lauren Boebert and wish her and her supporters well.”

Boebert will face Diane Mitsch Bush in the Nov. 3 election. Mitsch Bush, a former Routt County commissioner and state representative from Steamboat Springs who lost to Tipton in the 2018 general election, was the winner of the Democratic primary Tuesday over businessman James Iacino of Ridgway.

“It surprises me a little, but I thought she might get a lot of traction in this race because of her base,” Mitsch Bush said of Boebert’s upset win. “I was on a panel with her once, and she really stays on message and her beliefs are very strong and she is very articulate … I look forward to discussing issues with her and facing her in the general election.”

Mitsch Bush said she will run on her record as a state legislator who was able to work across party lines.

“I run on telling the truth, and I’m always transparent,” Mitsch Bush said.

Boebert called her run for Congress “a battle for the heart and soul of our country. I’m going to win this November because freedom is a great motivator,” she said.

Boebert is also a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, who tweeted Tuesday night upon learning of her upset over Tipton, “Congratulation on a really great win.”

Last fall, Boebert traveled to Denver to confront then-Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke regarding his stance on gun control, saying, “Hell no, you won’t take our guns.”

Recently, during the COVID-19 shutdown in Garfield County, Boebert defied Governor Jared Polis’ public health order and re-opened Shooters Grill to in-restaurant dining under CDC safety guidelines. 

Boebert noted in her statement that she was raised in a Democrat household and became a “self-taught Republican conservative.” She has never held public office.

Covering over 52,000 square miles, Colorado’s 3rd District is one of the largest in the country, stretching from Grand Junction to Pueblo and Cortez to Steamboat Springs.

Tipton won the U.S. House seat in 2010, beating incumbent John Salazar (50.1% to 45.8%). He’s won re-election in 2012 (beating Sal Pace), 2014 (versus Abel Tapia), 2016 (beating former state Sen. Gail Schwartz) and in 2018 against Diane Mitsch Bush (51.5% to 43.6%).

Tipton becomes the fifth House incumbent to lose renomination in 2020.

jstroud@postindependent.com

Diane Mitsch Bush wins CD3 Democratic primary over newcomer James Iacino

In her second effort to win Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District seat, Diane Mitsch Bush beat political newcomer James Iacino in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

As of 11 p.m., Mitsch Bush held 61.2% (61,395) of the 100,208 votes counted, according to the Secretary of State’s results.

She won Pitkin County with 1,921 (57.1%) to Iacino’s 1,444 votes (42.9%) as of the 9:15 p.m. update, according to the Pitkin County Clerk Janice Vos Caudill.

She said Iacino called her at about 8 p.m. to concede and congratulate her on the win.

“He very kindly called and conceded very graciously and gave me his strong support, ” Mitsch Bush said Tuesday night. “He was clear that we are going to work together to win this seat for the people. … I’m honored and humbled so many people voted for me.”

Mitsch Bush, 70, lost to Rep. Scott Tipton in 2018 by a 51.5% to 43.6% margin.

However, Tipton lost the Republican primary to political newcomer Lauren Boebert of Rifle. Boebert had 54.5% of the votes counted to Tipton’s 45.5% overall as of 11 p.m.; Tipton was ahead in Pitkin County with 544 votes to Boebert’s 279. He conceded the race to Boebert just after 9 p.m.

“It surprises me a little but I thought she might get a lot of traction in this race because of her base,” Mitsch Bush said of Boebert leading Tipton. “I was on a panel with her once, and she really stays on message and her beliefs are very strong and she is very articulate.”

Mitsch Bush, who moved to Routt County in 1976, was a two-term Routt County Commissioner, then represented Routt County and Eagle County in the State House of Representatives for three terms (2013-2017). While in the House she was chair of the Transportation and Energy Committee and vice chair of Agriculture and Natural Resources. She also served on the Joint House-Senate Water Committee for five years.

She was a tenured professor at Colorado State University and she also worked on the faculty at Colorado Mountain College, where she taught and did research for 11 years. 

Iacino, 37, entered the race in October 2019 and stepped down as the CEO of Seattle Fish Co., which is his family’s business based in Denver and has an office in Montrose. He was running for his first office and now lives in Ridgway with his wife and two children.

“Last October when we launched this campaign, we had one goal in mind: to beat Scott Tipton and bring real representation back to western and southern Colorado,” Iacino said in a statement released Tuesday evening. “Our economy is in shambles, our environment is under extreme stress, and the ACA remains in a constant state of danger. I’m proud to stand with Diane Mitsch Bush because my priorities are the same as they were then, and I know she will fight for what is right and bring a real voice back to the 3rd District.”

He won the Democratic Party’s CD3 Assembly in April with 49 percent of the vote, just ahead of Mitsch Bush at 47 percent. Iacino had the endorsement of state Democrats including former Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, Attorney General Phil Weiser, former CD3 Congressman John Salazar and former State Senator Gail Schwartz.

Tipton won the U.S. House seat in 2010, beating incumbent John Salazar (50.1% to 45.8%). He’s won re-election in 2012 (beating Sal Pace), 2014 (versus Abel Tapia), 2016 (beating Schwartz) and in 2018 against Mitsch Bush (51.5% to 43.6%).

Covering 29 counties over 52,000 square miles, Colorado’s 3rd District is one of the largest in the country. It stretches from Grand Junction to Pueblo and Cortez to Steamboat Springs.

This is a developing story that will be updated.

5th Judicial District Attorney candidates discuss Lake Christine Fire case

Heidi McCollum’s political fortunes could be influenced by whether residents of Basalt and El Jebel credit her as the prosecutor who got a conviction in the Lake Christine Fire case or criticize her for not seeking a stricter sentence.

McCollum is running for 5th Judicial District Attorney in the June 30 Democratic primary. Her opponent is Braden Angel.

Current District Attorney Bruce Brown cannot run again because of term limits after serving two terms.

The primary race could be for all the marbles. The Republican Party did not field a candidate in the primary and cannot appoint one for the general election, according to Eagle County Clerk and Recorder Regina O’Brien. A write-in candidate could emerge for the GOP for the general election, she said. An unaffiliated candidate could also theoretically enter the race.

As it stands, the Democratic primary between McCollum and Angel has elevated importance because it could determine who oversees the sprawling district that includes Eagle, Lake, Summit and Clear Creek counties. The 5th Judicial District Attorney’s office oversees prosecution of criminal cases in the Basalt and El Jebel area.

McCollum, 49, is an Eagle County native and has lived in Eagle most of her life. She has served as assistant district attorney in the 5th Judicial District since January 2013, when Brown took office.

Angel, 39, of Eagle-Vail, was a deputy district attorney in the 5th Judicial District from October 2007 through October 2012. He is now the municipal prosecutor in the town of Blue River near Breckenridge and in private practice.

McCollum handled the cases of Richard Miller and Allison Marcus, the couple convicted of starting the Lake Christine Fire on July 3, 2018, at the Basalt shooting range. The fire destroyed three homes, burned more than 12,500 acres and made the summer miserable for thousands of midvalley residents due to evacuations and months-long poor air quality.

In a plea disposition, Miller and Marcus pleaded guilty to setting fire to woods or prairie, a class two misdemeanor. Three charges of felony arson were dismissed by the DA’s office. Miller and Marcus were each sentenced to 45 days in jail, 1,500 hours of use public service, $100,000 in restitution and five years of probation.

McCollum said high-profile cases always bring out different perspectives. That was magnified by the Lake Christine Fire case because it affected so many people and cost the federal government $30 million to fight.

“In a perfect world, do I want someone after burning down three people’s homes, do I want someone to go to prison for that? Part of me says yeah, you burned down three people’s homes. You deserve an incredibly harsh sentence, without question,” McCollum said.

But she also believes the punishment was appropriate because it set restitution that can realistically be collected and requires the defendants to complete an “exorbitant amount” of useful public service.

Miller has repaid nearly $26,000 of his restitution, she said, while Marcus has paid about $17,000. If the total amount isn’t repaid by the end of their five-year probationary period, McCollum would extend probation until it is paid, she said.

The 1,500 hours of use public service translates into 37½ weeks of working 40 hours per week to give back to the community.

“I felt that frankly that was a better remedy for everyone,” McCollum said.

She said that no conscientious district attorney could claim to have the best solution all the time. But they take each case and weigh a variety of factors to pursue what they feel is the best path.

“There was no intent on either of these individuals’ parts to start a fire and disrupt thousands and thousands of peoples’ daily lives and scar the landscape and cause all that damage,” McCollum said. “Their behavior was negligent. They’re behavior was completely inappropriate. They’re behavior was selfish.”

She feels the plea deal and sentence were best for moving past the fire.

“At the end of the day, communities don’t just need defendants to be punished,” she said. “Communities need to be able to heal. These two individuals are paying their debt to society. They are doing what the courts told them to do.”

Angel said it was difficult for him to answer if the punishment fit the crime in the Lake Christine Fire case because he wasn’t privy to all the information the district attorney’s office had.

“However, I think with the significance of the crime that was committed and the damages that resulted from that crime, I’m not confident saying that the sentence was adequate given the danger that was present,” Angel said. “There were a lot of community members in the El Jebel, Missouri Heights area that were very, very affected by the fire. I’m a big proponent of the community service aspect. I think that’s wonderful. I do think a very large number of hours for this type of offense is absolutely appropriate.”

Given the dry conditions at the time of the fire, it wasn’t appropriate for anyone to be firing ammunition of any type at the shooting range, let alone tracer rounds, he said.

“I don’t know that it was adequately taken into consideration,” he said. “I don’t know that a careless mistake really sums up the actions of those individuals. I think it was reckless, what was going on at the shooting range that day and that reckless behavior put many lives in jeopardy. I think that a more punitive sentence on that particular crime may have been warranted but I don’t have all of that information that the DA’s office had.”

Angel said there needed to be a deterrent factor in the case. Marcus and Miller probably have “learned their lesson” and aren’t going to commit another crime, but a message was also necessary.

“We don’t want someone who sees this to say, ‘Oh, well, they just got a slap on the wrist. I’m going to go out and shot my rounds whenever I want, whatever the fire danger is, high or low.’ We want to make sure people are considering that because those actions can have a terribly, terribly detriment and horrific impact on our community,” Angel said.

The candidates expressed similar positions on a variety of general issues. Angel said ideally the district would have a “behavioral health court” that could tap into resources when there is a mental health issue involved. He said he helped get special DUI and drug courts started when he worked in the DA’s office.

“I do think that substance abuse and behavioral health need to be decriminalized,” he said.

Research shows there are fewer repeat offenders when mental health and substance abuse are issues and the focus is on rehabilitation rather than incarceration, he said.

McCollum’s campaign literature also calls for “treatment, not jail time, for those struggling with mental health and addiction.”

scondon@aspentimes.com

Congressional candidates face off in internet forum

Given the geographic size of Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, perhaps the best way to reach voters is via the internet.

That’s what the La Plata County League of Women Voters had in mind with a Wednesday evening candidate forum featuring three of the four candidates for the position.

Appearing via Zoom were Democrats Diane Mitsch Bush and James Iacino, along with Republican Lauren Boebert. Missing was incumbent Republican Scott Tipton, who also didn’t send any statements to the forum.

The three candidates appearing Wednesday all talked about ways they’d be the better choice to represent the district.

Answering viewer questions presented by Paul DeBell, an assistant professor in political science at Fort Lewis College in Durango, the three candidates made their cases to prevail in both the June 30 primary election and the Nov. 3 general election.

Boebert is an owner of Shooter’s Grill in Rifle. She’s challenging Tipton in the primary, casting herself as a true conservative to represent the district. She’s challenging Tipton’s alleged chumminess with Democrats who currently hold the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Iacino and Mitsch Bush are both challenging Tipton’s alleged lock-step adherence to President Donald Trump’s policies.

Various experience

Mitsch Bush told forum viewers about her government experience as both a Routt County commissioner and a nearly eight-year veteran of the Colorado House of Representatives.

“Our democracy is in danger,” Mitsch Bush told viewers, adding that she’s a “seasoned, tested, trusted” public servant who has worked across the aisle for her constituents.

“I’ve never been more concerned about the future of our country,” Iacino said.

Citing his business experience — the Ridgway resident is a third-generation owner of the Seattle Fish Company — Iacino noted that company has long been a union shop, and said “we need to fight for economic mobility for everybody.”

Boebert also said “this is one of the most challenging times in our country’s history.”

Boebert said the next 3rd District representative has to be “principled and strong” in defense of free enterprise and against government dependency.

The different views between the Democrats and Tipton’s Republican challenger were on vivid display during the roughly hour-long forum.

Responding to a question about the future of health care, both Iacino and Mitsch Bush said government needs to provide a “public option” to private health insurance. Government should also insure rural health clinics, with access to mental health and women’s care.

Boebert noted that the current health care system is “broken,” but preferred finding options to open up competition for health care on the Western Slope.

“Nobody is incented to change,” Boebert said.

Some left-right agreement

The candidates did have similar answers to a couple of questions, with some differences, of course.

All favor community-based solutions to affordable housing.

Boebert focused more on free markets. Iacino said federal funding should support those efforts. Mitsch Bush said local housing authorities have been effective, but said there needs to be a combination of state and federal efforts, along with public-private partnerships at the local level.

All three candidates also voiced full-throated support for the future of the U.S. Postal Service.

But the Democratic and Republican candidates had more sharp differences than agreement. Answers to a question about police reform illustrated those differences.

“This is our opportunity to effect the change we’ve needed,” Iacino said, noting that military equipment shouldn’t go to local police agencies.

Mitsch Bush said she supports current legislation to outlaw chokeholds and no-knock raids.

Noting that her first husband was a police officer, Mitsch Bush said she knew first-hand the need for training that allows officers to de-escalate confrontations.

“It’s insane that we have to have a discussion about defunding or disbanding (police agencies),” Boebert said, adding that there should be no room for bad officers or racism.

“We need to show compassion and empathy, but never (settle for) looting and violence,” she said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com.

Democratic contenders in CD3 race face off in e-forum

Diane Mitsch Bush touted her political experience and James Iacino his business background as distinguishing factors voters should consider in the upcoming primary to determine the Democratic nominee to run for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District seat.

As ballots for the June 30 primary election hit the mail Monday, the two Democrats introduced themselves to would-be voters in an online Zoom forum that evening. The forum, moderated by former state lawmaker Roger Wilson, was sponsored by the Democratic parties of Garfield, Eagle and Pitkin counties.

“Voter registration is changing in the 3rd District,” said Mitsch Bush, the former Routt County commissioner and Colorado state representative who came up short in her 2018 bid to unseat incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton.

With 39% of the sprawling congressional district’s voters now registered as unaffiliated, and many Republicans she said she has talked to looking for a representative who will stay true to their rural Colorado roots, Mitsch Bush said she has the crossover support to win this time around.

“Moderate Republicans, including many ranchers and small business people, are sick and tired of Trump, and want someone in Congress who will represent the people,” Mitsch Bush said, calling Tipton a “lap dog” for President Donald Trump and his policies.

She said her experience working across the aisle in the state Legislature, and building consensus among people with diverse political beliefs in Routt County will serve her well in Congress.

Challenging her for the nomination is Iacino, a third-generation Coloradan now living in Ridgway, and the owner of his family’s longtime business, the Seattle Fish Co.

“The key to this district is meeting folks where they are … going out and hearing them directly,” Iacino said of his ability to relate to people on issues that affect them personally.

“What have wages done, compared to their costs? What about jobs and education opportunities? … What people are tired of now on both sides is the political extremes.”

Representing the 3rd District, he said, “is about listening to people, and really making a connection with them one-on-one.”

The forum touched on several timely issues, from the federal government’s role in responding to the coronavirus pandemic and addressing police brutality and race relations, to immigration policy and the United States’ standing in the international community on trade, military conflict and climate policy.

“We’ve seen serious deficiencies in our federal government’s ability to react to this pandemic,” Iacino said, adding that funding cuts for the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization is the wrong approach.

“That only makes us weaker as a nation when we’re trying to respond to a pandemic,” he said. “We need to work with our partners around the world to address this.”

Mitsch Bush said advance coordination and communication on a world scale is crucial, and did not happen on the part of the U.S. in the case of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The lack of a science-based federal preparedness plan has contributed to the spread of a disease, and has also caused death,” she said. “This administration has paid no attention to science.”

Both candidates said they support expansion of the H2A visa program to provide necessary workers for the agricultural and hospitality industries in the 3rd District as part of a comprehensive immigration reform plan.

They also said DACA protections should continue for those who arrived with their families as children and remain undocumented, until a path to citizenship can be established.

“Right now, we have a 12-year average waiting period (to establish citizenship),” Iacino said. “That’s often not a possibility for folks who need to be here working and providing for their families.”

Asked what committee appointments they would seek if elected to Congress, both candidates picked Agriculture and Natural Resources as being the most relevant to 3rd District constituents. They differed on their third choice, though, as Mitsch Bush opted for Transportation, and Iacino for Small Business.

A recording of the forum is expected to be made available by the Democratic parties in the three counties for voters to view ahead of the primary election.

Iacino and Mitsch Bush also are slated to participate in a Wednesday evening Zoom forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of La Plata County and other co-sponsors.

They are to be joined by Republican challenger Lauren Boebert of Rifle, who hopes to win her party’s nomination over Tipton in the June 30 primary. Tipton has indicated that he will be unable to participate in that forum.

Members elected to Aspen, Basalt area boards

Voters in the Basalt and Aspen area cast their ballots Tuesday in races deciding the makeup of local fire and hospital boards, as well as a parks and recreation district.

In the election for two open seats on the board of directors for the Aspen Fire Protection District, Michael Buglione led the field of three candidates with 915 votes. Incumbent John Ward received 892 votes, enough to propel him to another three-year term. Harvey Fahy came in third with 851 votes, according to the fire district.

Drs. Greg Balko and Mindy Nagle also were re-elected to additional three-year terms on the Aspen Valley Hospital’s board of directors. Nagle collected 1,836 votes and Balko 1,496. The third candidate, Michael Lyons, received 643 votes, officials said.

Leroy Duroux and Bonnie Scott were elected to the Crown Mountain Park and Recreation District board of directors, according to unofficial results.

Duroux received 87 votes while Scott received 85. Former Basalt Mayor Rick Stevens finished one vote behind Scott with 84 votes.

Turnout was light with only 190 votes cast. The vote is unofficial until the canvass board votes next week.

There were six candidates running for two positions. Scott is an incumbent. Duroux, also a former Basalt mayor, is a newcomer to the park board.

The other candidates and their tallies were Eric Aanonson, 54 votes; Denise Latousek, 42 votes; and Stevens Loomis, 13 votes.

The terms for Duroux and Scott are three years.

Competition in 2 of 3 commissioner districts

Five candidates, including two incumbents, met Friday’s deadline to file to run for three seats on the Pitkin County board of commissioners up for grabs in November’s election, according to county Clerk Janice Vos Caudill.

Commissioner Greg Poschman, a Brush Creek Village resident who is finishing his first term, filed to run again in District 3. Poschman will face no opposition in the contest.

Current-Board Chairmain Steve Child, a Capitol Creek rancher, filed to run for his third term on the commission from District 4. Former Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority Boardmember Chris Council, a Snowmass Village resident and local photographer, will run against Child.

The final seat open in November is District 5, currently occupied by Commissioner George Newman who will step down after three four-year terms in office. Pitkin County limits commissioners to three terms.

Francie Jacober, a retired teacher and Prince Creek Road resident, filed the requisite 100 signatures and paperwork to make it on to the November ballot to run for that seat. Jeffrey Evans of Basalt, a longtime proponent of finding a solution to the Entrance to Aspen, also has filed to run for the District 5 seat.

Because there are not three or more candidates for each seat, the choices will be automatically forwarded on to the November ballot and will not appear on the June 30 primary ballot, Vos Caudill said.

Commissioners Patti Clapper and Kelly McNicholas Kury, who represent Districts 1 and 2, are not up for re-election in November.

Final tally for Basalt town council seat expected Thursday

The final tally in the Basalt Town Council election will be undertaken Thursday to determine the winner of a council seat.

There were 56 outstanding ballots that were either mailed overseas and hadn’t been returned by the April 7 election or were local ballots cast with questions regarding the signatures, according to Town Clerk Pam Schilling. Wednesday was the last day for the remaining 36 overseas ballots to be returned. In addition, the town tried to resolve the issues with the 20 ballots with questions regarding the signatures.

Schilling said election judges will count the final ballots this morning and results will be released.

The only race that could be affected is for the final council seat. Candidate Elyse Hottel held a four-vote lead over Kirk “Dieter” Schindler, 506 to 502.

The other council candidates collected enough votes to secure their victories. Glenn Drummond collected 581 votes and David Knight received 575.

In the mayor’s race, winner Bill Kane’s margin of victory was large enough that the outstanding votes couldn’t alter the result.