Aspen Women’s March highlights reproductive rights, immigration, food insecurity ahead of big election year

The Pitkin County Democrats lead a women's march on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024, through Aspen.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

About 45 people joined the annual Women’s March in Paepcke Park on Saturday to discuss a slate of issues organizers said will be at stake in this year’s elections.

Pitkin County Democratic Party Chair Betty Wallach and speakers from across the Western Slope spoke about immigration, food insecurity, reproductive rights, and more during the march, of which the national theme was “Bigger Than Roe.” In a presidential election year, with a slew of local down-ballot races, organizers said it was important to vote for candidates and issues that support women’s rights.

Betty Wallach of the Pitkin County Democrats speaks during a women’s march on Saturday at Paepcke Park in Aspen.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

“In 2024, let’s get people from national to local politics, people who are going to promote the role of women as leaders and promote getting women into positions of power,” said Ann Mullins, a former Aspen city councilwoman.

Cidney Fisk, an advocate with the Denver-based non-profit Cobalt that supports reproductive rights, asked people at the march to support an effort by reproductive rights advocates statewide to add a constitutional amendment to the ballot that would protect Coloradoans right to abortion. The ballot initiative would also repeal the state’s ban on using public funding for abortion, which bars state employees or those on Medicaid from having abortions covered by insurance.

State Rep. Elizabeth Velasco, a Democrat who represents House District 57 in the Colorado General Assembly, urged those in attendance to vote for candidates who support immigration.

The Pitkin County Democrats lead a women’s march on Saturday with a finish at Paepcke Park in Aspen.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

“Immigration is a women’s issue,” she said. “We know that the world is in chaos, and that there’s many things that are threatening our safety and our rights.”

She is running for re-election for her seat in the General Assembly in November.

Dozens of people marched from the Silver Queen Gondola plaza to Paepcke Park, many of them holding signs saying “abortion is healthcare” and “trust women.”

Michele Diamond, who lives in Glenwood Springs, joined the march to speak up for the rights of her children and grandchildren and ensure they have access to reproductive care.

The Pitkin County Democrats lead a women’s march on Saturday through Aspen.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

“Things can be fair and wonderful for women, or they can be bleak,” Diamond said.

Wallach, who has organized and participated in several women’s marches with the Pitkin County Democratic Party, emphasized the importance of caring for one another and expressing that care at the polls.

“The word care is a noun and a verb … We are the party that cares – we care for medicare, social security,” she said. “It’s also a noun. The care that we give to people who need the care. We give people care, all the people who need the care, we Democrats want to give it.”

Other speakers at the march included Txell Pedragosa, the program director at Response that provides support for victims of domestic violence in the Roaring Fork Valley; Gabriella Gabayar who spoke about food insecurity on the Western Slope; Barbara Bynum, mayor of Montrose and a candidate for State Senate District 5; and Phil Overeynder, second vice chair of the Pitkin County Democrats.

Txell Pedragosa, the program director for Response, was among the speakers during the Pitkin County Democrats women’s march on Saturday at Paepcke Park in Aspen.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times