Woody Creek Democrats go their own way | AspenTimes.com

Woody Creek Democrats go their own way

John Colson
Aspen, CO Colorado

PITKIN COUNTY ” When Pitkin County’s Democrats gather for the precinct caucus Feb. 5, they won’t have the residents of Woody Creek to contend with ” at least not all of them.

That’s because an unknown ” but undoubtedly significant ” portion of Woody Creek’s Democratic Party members will hold their own meeting for Precinct 7, at the Woody Creek Community Center, otherwise known as WC3.

The county party has scheduled a central caucus meeting at the old Aspen Youth Center building, at 455 Rio Grande Place next to the Rio Grande Parking Garage, where county Democratic Party chair Camilla Auger hopes for at least 100 caucus participants.

But Ann Owsley, manager of WC3 and a politically active resident, said Tuesday that past caucuses have attracted too few Woody Creekers to make much of an impact, and those who have attended have felt their participation was diluted by the size of the event.

“When a meeting is far from home it is more likely to suffer from lack of attendance,” Owsley wrote in an e-mail to Pitkin County Democratic Party official Blanca O’Leary. “Neighborhood meetings honor the intention of the precinct caucuses, because neighbors can gather in a convenient location, where they live, and begin the process in a truly grassroots manner.”

So, Owsley said in an interview, “We’re taking it back.”

She recalled feeling that the 2004 caucus meetings were too “chaotic” to permit meaningful debate about candidates, issues or the election of precinct captains.

Owsley also indicated a simmering unhappiness with the decision by Auger to consolidate the 10 precincts into one venue.

“Camilla is trying to say that Aspen is the only important precinct in Pitkin County,” she declared.

Auger, however, said she expects some Woody Creekers to show up at the Aspen meeting, but has no problem with the idea of some in Woody Creek breaking off on their own.

“We make concessions for Woody Creek,” she said, noting it will become her task to combine the tallies from the split-precinct meeting on such things as the election of a precinct captain, the votes on platform issues and the preference poll for presidential candidates.

Auger said that the other remote part of Pitkin County that has, in the past, put on its own precinct caucus gathering is Redstone. However, its precinct captain, Dorothea Farris, said there are no plans for a local meeting in Redstone.

“They all are very happy to go where there’s more conversation, more debate on the issue,” she said of the Democrats of Precinct 10.

“I think Woody Creek should be allowed to do its thing,” continued Farris, who also serves on the Pitkin County board of commissioners, indicating that neighborhood based, grassroots politics is laudable. “I think it’s unfortunate that every caucus doesn’t do what Woody Creek is doing.”

Auger urged all area registered Democrats to take part in the precinct caucus process, stressing that the preference poll at the precinct meetings is “the only time you get to vote for president in the nominating process.”

While the Democrats seem to have developed a minor schism, the Republicans are suffering from no such split, according to Republican Party Chair Linda McCausland. She said that as far as she knows, all the county’s Republican precincts will be represented at the Feb. 5 caucus in Aspen, at the Aspen Square Conference Center.

“I think they kind of like the camaraderie,” she said.

jcolson@aspentimes.com


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