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Liz Velasco nabs HD57 Democratic primary nomination

Colorado House District 57 candidate Elizabeth Velasco won Tuesday’s Democratic primary election with nearly 65% of the vote.

“Tonight, Western Colorado sent a message that our communities want a representative focused on the pressing issues people care about, like cutting the cost of living and helping working people get ahead,” Velasco said Tuesday evening.

Unofficial results show Valsasco nabbed 2,448 votes (64.35% of the vote) over challenger Cole Buerger’s 1,356 (35.65%) for a margin of 1,034 votes. Voter turnout was 25.71% out of 15,358 registered Democratic voters in Garfield County.

“I look forward to being the first Latina and immigrant representing this district,” Velasco said.

Buerger said on Tuesday evening he was proud of his campaign and is now going to solely focus on running his communications firm.

“I am completely focused on my small business and focused on increasing advocacy and fighting for the rights of all Coloradans,” he said. “Our democracy is in trouble.”

Velsasco now faces HD57 incumbent Rep. Perry Will, R-New Castle, in the Nov. 8 General Election. Will, originally appointed in 2019 after Bob Rankin’s appointment to the Colorado Senate, was elected to his first full term in 2020. He won the Republican nomination unopposed Tuesday.

“We’re definitely going to convene with the Democrats in Pitkin, Garfield and Eagle counties in making sure we work together,” Velasco said. “We are the majority. This is a Democratic district.”

‘Doing a great job:’ Moffat County Republican chair weighs in on Boebert’s first few months in office

Editor’s note: This story is part of an ongoing series highlighting voters throughout Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. Through the month of May, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, The Aspen Times, Steamboat Pilot & Today, Craig Press and Vail Daily will be running stories highlighting Democrat and Republican voters in our communities.

In just six months in office, Rep. Lauren Boebert has made many headlines and been the center of attention on many nightly television shows.

Though some of the publicity may seem negative to outsiders, many Moffat County residents — including Moffat County Republican Party chairman Doug Winters — are pleased with the work Boebert has done so far and the way she continues to represent the oft-overlooked Western Slope.

Moffat County Republican Chairman Doug Winters says he's pleased with the job Congresswoman Lauren Boebert is doing so far. (Joshua Carney / Craig Press)

“I think she’s doing a great job,” Winters said of the Rifle Republican. “I think she’s doing what she said she was going to do, and I also understand that there’s a lot of things — probably out of her control — that she’s standing up for CD-3 and doing what she said she was going to. In particular, she’s fighting for water rights, the Constitution, protecting our lands, and trying to keep our oil and gas and our energy industry going.

“Those are the things, I think, that our community is looking for from her in terms of making sure we’re protected and we’re heard,” Winters said.

Winters, a registered Republican for the past 20 years and a longtime Moffat County resident, was re-elected as the party chairman in the county in February. Outside of his role in the political landscape in Moffat County, Winters has a wide reach in Northwest Colorado as the chief investigator for the 14th Judicial District.

A father of two boys, Joey and Zach, and married to Chrissy, Winters is well-versed in the region’s political landscape. Monitoring Boebert’s rise and her impact at the state and national level, Winters hopes to see more from the vocal, popular representative.

“From us in our community, what we would like to see her do is continue fighting for our values, fighting for our rights here on the Western Slope, being that voice in Washington that we so desperately need here in Colorado,” Winters said. “I think as long as she keeps doing that, she’ll find some success with that.”

Prior to Boebert winning CD-3’s seat over incumbent Congressman Scott Tipton and eventual Democratic challenger Diane Mitsch-Bush, Winters said there was a bit of divide in the Republican Party in Moffat County regarding Boebert. Once she became the nominee, however, full support was thrown behind her.

“I would say there was a bit of a divide, honestly, but people loved her enthusiasm overall,” Winters said. “That’s ultimately what got her elected. If I’m not mistaken, a lot of those people that were first-time voters or didn’t vote very often, she energized that base. That’s what ultimately got people out to vote, and she had a strong message.

“People were tired of the same old routine that we’re getting, and I think people were ready to see a sort of a change at that point,” Winters added. “She’s delivered in that way.”

Though Boebert has been busy since swearing into office, in terms of introducing bills and fighting for the Western Slope, Winters says that Boebert’s office has been very receptive to Moffat County and is working toward getting the congresswoman into town in the summer.

“We want to give the people some face time with her,” Winters said. “We also want to give those that maybe don’t follow her online or through the news to learn about what she’s going to do.”

While Boebert reaches many on social media platforms, she’s often run into controversy through Twitter with comments, spats with other politicians and more, but for Winters, it’s not something that bothers him or other Republicans in the community.

“I’m not on Twitter, but I know she has more of an online presence than our former congressman,” Winters said. “That’s kind of the wave now; you can reach so many people on social media, and that’s what she’s doing rather than through the conventional ways.”

Managing Editor Joshua Carney can be reached at 970-875-1790 or jcarney@craigdailypress.com.

Former political RINO concerned with direction of CD-3, country under Boebert’s direction

Editor’s note: This story is part of an ongoing series highlighting voters throughout Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. Through the month of May, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, The Aspen Times, Steamboat Pilot & Today, Craig Press and Vail Daily will be running stories highlighting Democrat and Republican voters in our communities.

Described as a former political RINO (Republican in name only), Steve Martinson, a retired Moffat County School District art teacher and avid outdoorsman, is very concerned with the leadership in place representing Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District in Rep. Lauren Boebert.

Previously, Martinson was a registered Republican, serving as that political RINO in Moffat County in hopes of having his voice heard in local elections. After years of trying to make some sort of impact in a heavily conservative community, Martinson made the switch to the Democrat Party full-time a few years ago.

“I just didn’t want to do it any longer,” Martinson said. “Pretty much, I’ve been a lifelong Democrat-leaning person for 30 years here in Moffat County.”

Seeing today’s political landscape, Martinson is worried about the direction the country is headed, and is worried about how CD-3 is being represented by Rep. Boebert, who has no prior political experience.

“We’re in a very, very polarized time politically,” Martinson said. “I have my doubts about her being able to work across the aisle. She has such polarizing views, and so being able to compromise and work together, I think she’s going to have an uphill battle.

“I’m certainly not on board with her agenda, but I know that it’s going to be very hard for her to accomplish much. I am concerned with her having no experience whatsoever, and her learning curve is going to be so steep going forward.”

Steve Martinson, a retired art teacher and avid outdoorsman in Moffat County, is concerned with the direction of Congressional District 3. (Joshua Carney / Craig Press)

Despite being concerned about the direction the country — and the 3rd Congressional District — appears to be headed, Martinson said he’s not surprised, considering what Boebert’s base seems to support.

Martinson was interviewed on Colorado Public Radio leading up to last year’s primary election between then-Rep. Scott Tipton and Boebert, a Rifle native. In that interview, Martinson said he expected Boebert to win and then win the CD-3 seat outright in November due to her ability to grab headlines and play to her far-right leaning base.

So far, that’s what’s happened with Boebert, who Martinson said hasn’t achieved much of anything in her first six months.

“She hasn’t accomplished much,” Martinson said. “Yes, she’s gained some headlines, and I suspect there’s quite a bit of her base that likes to hear the things she’s saying, but as far as making meaningful legislation moving forward, I don’t anticipate that at all.”

Though he believes that Boebert hasn’t accomplished much in her first six months in office, Martinson does feel that the fiery, headline-grabbing congresswoman is representing CD-3 the way her voters would want her to.

“You know, it’s pockets that I think she represents very well,” Martinson said. “I feel like much of the Western Slope believes she speaks for them, but ski town communities especially are very much on the other side of that. There’s a big divide there. Area-wise though, she does speak for a lot of CD-3.

“She won the vote, so there’s more people that believe in what she’s saying than don’t.”

Now that Boebert has some experience in office, Martinson says it’s time for her to start listening to all the constituents in her district moving forward, not just the ones that support her and prop her up.

In recent months that’s been an issue with Boebert, especially on the Western Slope where she’s kept town hall meetings quiet and tried to meet with just Republican groups.

“I’d like to see that, but I’m not very hopeful to see that,” Martinson said. “She’s right of right in that sense, she’s so far in that direction, that I don’t see her being able to move toward the middle and listen to many views as much.

“Here in Craig, though, I wish she’d investigate a little more what we’re facing in our future,” Martinson added. “The technology is changing and moving away from coal, and our former president didn’t stop that from happening in this community.”

Arguably the biggest concern with Boebert, though, is her social media usage and the image she portrays. Though Martinson does not follow Boebert on Twitter, he sees the things she tweets and the arguments she involves herself in, which is a massive change from traditional representation of elected officials.

“Traditionally, we would expect more from our representatives,” Martinson said. “More restraint, a little bit less of amplifying the noise. But this seems to be the society that we’re living in now. I am hopeful we can get back to more common dialogue. I do think social media has been a big part in driving this totally partisan politics that we’re in. It’s immediate, it’s quick, it’s fed by algorithms that tell you want to hear.

“It’s a dangerous trend as a whole,” Martinson said. “… In some ways, I think she’s a product of the age. … It’s a dangerous time for all of us; I hope we can turn it around.”

Managing Editor Joshua Carney can be reached at 970-875-1790 or jcarney@craigdailypress.com.