Basalt officials still hopeful for policy chat with U.S. Rep. Boebert

Meeting with CD3 representative has been elusive since invitation sent last winter

Lauren Boebert, the Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives seat in Colorado’s vast 3rd Congressional District, during a freedom cruise staged by her supporters Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, in Pueblo West. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Basalt’s elected officials say the door remains open for a policy discussion with U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert but she has not come knocking in the five months since the invitation was extended.

Boebert’s office said the Congresswoman was busy assembling her staff and settling into her new role when first contacted by Basalt in January. While a meeting wasn’t arranged due to lack of follow-up by both sides, she would consider a discussion, the spokesman said.

Mayor Bill Kane said the Basalt board would “absolutely” welcome an opportunity to talk to Boebert.

“I think her views on the Second Amendment and immigration are well known,” Kane said. “We wanted to talk to her on a broader front.”

Basalt officials want to talk about issues affecting the lives of their constituents — affordable housing, health care, transit and management of public lands, he said.

Boebert was a political newcomer who scored a surprise victory over incumbent Scott Tipton in the Republican primary last year. Boebert, a Republican from Silt and a Rifle businesswoman, went on to soundly defeat Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush in November.

Boebert has garnered more attention during her first five months in office than the typical freshman, largely because of her partisan positions and posturing on issues. She bashes liberals with the same gusto as former President Donald Trump and often takes positions that are at odds with the Democratic majority in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Boebert opposed the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act, which includes blocking future energy development on 200,000 acres in the Thompson Divide area, southwest of Carbondale. She labeled the CORE Act a “Democratic land-grab.”

She came under fire for being associated with right wing groups who participated in the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. She was one of 21 members of the House who voted against a resolution to honor the Capitol police for their actions to try to protect the Capitol.

Basalt’s elected officials took a carrot-and-stick approach with Boebert in January. All seven members of the board signed a letter that condemned Boebert “based on her association with the right-wing groups that supported the insurrection of the Capitol Building.”

The letter was signed by scores of elected officials from counties and municipalities from throughout the Third Congressional District. It was sent to leaders of both parties in the U.S. House.

At the same time they signed the letter, the council members also directed Town Manager Ryan Mahoney to invite Boebert to participate in a discussion about issues. Councilman Gary Tennenbaum raised the idea.

Mahoney said this week that he contacted Boebert’s office and was eventually put in touch with the person who handles her schedule. Mahoney said he was asked what topics the Basalt council members wanted to discuss. He was told Boebert was busy for the next few weeks and wouldn’t be able to meet with them.

What happened next was perceived differently by Mahoney and Boebert’s staff.

Mahoney said he was left with the impression that the scheduler would get back to him with potential dates once the Congresswoman’s availability became clear. That didn’t happen.

“I have not heard back from them again so I gave up trying,” Mahoney said.

A representative of Boebert’s staff said the town didn’t follow-up with its request.

Once she settled in, Boebert started meeting with elected bodies back in her district and she has established “mobile office hours” where members of her staff meet with constituents in their hometowns. The July mobile office hours are in Antonito, Monte Vista, Pueblo County, Pagosa Springs, Creede, Lake City, Hayden, La Veta and Gunnison. None of the mobile office hours in May came close to the Roaring Fork Valley either.

Boebert’s spokesman said her town hall sessions and mobile office hours, which feature staff members rather than the Congresswoman, aren’t based on whether a town or county supported her in the election. She is willing to work with constituents regardless of their political affiliation, he said.

“We’ve been doing that since day one,” the spokesman said.

The Congresswoman is “looking forward to serving the Basalt community,” he continued. While no promise was made, he said Boebert would welcome a chance to talk issues with Basalt officials.

Boebert plans to spend a significant amount of time in the district during the annual August recess by Congress, the spokesman said.

Tennenbaum said he still feels it is important for Basalt officials to meet with Boebert. He said in January and repeated this week that a meeting should not be used to criticize Boebert but to exchange views on the important issues facing the Third Congressional District.

“I’d be very open to a conversation,” he said. “She’s our representative in Congress.”