Change of the guard with Pitkin democrats |

Change of the guard with Pitkin democrats

Dear Editor:

Under Colorado state law the Pitkin County Democratic Party must hold its Democratic party reorganization meeting between Feb. 1-15. We have a meeting set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 10, at the Pitkin County Library meeting room downstairs.

After 13 years as chair of the Pitkin County Democratic Party and one year as chair of the State Platform Committee, I am not planning to run for re-election this year. It has been a great pleasure and honor serving as party chair. The slate is open for all who wish to run for chair, first vice chair and secretary/treasurer.

During the term I have served, we have reliably produced a 75-80 percent vote for the Democratic ticket with a voter base of Republicans, Independents and Democrats. Although Pitkin is a small county, our strong vote is a critical part of the often very thin margin of victory in the state. Our careful preparation over a number of years to define our county as part of an area of economic interest, rather than simply a political district, including many of our elected officials serving on regional boards, was an important factor in winning the lawsuit brought by then-Attorney General Salazar to overturn the effort to throw us in the Boulder congressional district and lessen our influence.

A key goal of getting the wealthy donors to work together with the local rank and file who get the vote out has largely been achieved. Both President Clinton and Sen. Clinton visited many times and allowed us to organize airport greeting committees to meet with them to discuss local issues. Other national and statewide candidates now routinely notify the party and provide opportunities to meet.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you have worked so hard to make the party successful, especially Bill Stirling, Bill and Doug Farris, Vitaska Kirshen and David Bentley. In addition, no Democratic chair could be successful in the elections process without the skill, expertise and dedication of Mick Ireland. Finally, I would like to thank the city and county clerks’ offices whose honesty, integrity and obsessive accuracy restored my faith in the elections process as I served there during many, many elections.

In two state-ordered recounts, Pitkin County was not off by even one vote. Dwight Shellman is also the best, most knowledgeable elections manager that we have ever had. It bodes well for the future of our party and our country.

Blanca O’Leary has indicated a willingness to serve and a strong desire to be chair. I persuaded Blanca to run for first vice chair and she greatly exceeded all my expectations in terms of hard work, energy and creativity. When we held the famous/infamous caucuses (with many times the turnout anticipated in our wildest expectations) the year that President Obama ran, we all went home exhausted. Blanca came in unthinkably early the next morning to clean up the Rio Grande meeting room and salvage our rented silver out of the trash so that we could return it.

She has developed an unequaled breath of contacts and has broad community involvement in such matters as the school bond issue, the Hidden Gems proposal, local sustainable farming, legal aid and many others. We share the same philosophy regarding fundraising and events to include the rank and file party members who get the vote out as well as the wealthy donors who have traditionally been involved only in national races and now regularly participate with us at the local and state levels.

We also share the same views on policy issues. For example, we both worked very had on the single-payer health care issue. While party participation was greatly expanded by President Obama’s campaign and election, Blanca went above and beyond that factor in organization and encouraging broad party involvement and participation. Blanca will take the Pitkin County party to the next level and I enthusiastically endorse her candidacy for chair of the party.

Since Blanca will be out of the town until early March, I plan to give a party (appetizers, dancing, open bar) to celebrate the change of party administrations at 5:30 p.m. March 10 at the Aspen Meadows restaurant upstairs (where the bar and fireplace are located). Please save the date.

If anyone has an interest in running for any county party seat or any questions, please e-mail at

Camilla Auger

Chair, Pitkin County Democratic Party

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