By Anthony Guerrero
MONTE VISTA— Kicking off their midterm election battle the Rio Grande County Democrats hosted “Democrats! at the Theater” on Saturday, Jan. 6 at the Vali 3.
The political party took time to explain the caucus and assembly process to attendees and clarified participation in the system. The committee also encouraged local Democrats to become candidates for multiple municipal and county races that are up for election in 2018. A quick financial update was also presented in which it was announced the party had doubled their budget in the course of the 2017 year. After these items were announced to those assembled, four candidates for state and congressional offices addressed the audience.
Bernard Douthit was the first candidate to speak. Douthit is a candidate for state treasurer seeking the Democratic nomination. Douthit’s visit marks the first for state treasurer candidates to Rio Grande County. Douthit or “Bernie” as he encouraged the crowd to remember him by outlined why he thought he was the most qualified candidate in the race. He shared his over 25 years of business experience and working in the corporate world and his educational background in finance and economics. He said he feels that type of experience is extraordinarily important for a state treasurer to have. One main topic Douthit brought is his idea to open a public bank in Colorado. He said that he thinks a public bank would help make student loans and small business loans less expensive and also help with certain industries in Colorado.
Phillip Villard, candidate for secretary of state, was the next to share his ideas. Villard focused on protecting voter information and the integrity of elections. He stated he would want to work to make sure interference from foreign governments in United States elections was handled properly and minimized. Villard also said he was disappointed in the in the Election Integrity Commission that was set up by President Trump’s administration and was recently disbanded. According to Villard’s opinion the commission was set up to disenfranchise voters. To help in ensuring fair elections Villard has a vision of updating and modernizing security and hardware systems.
Jena Griswold, is another candidate for secretary of state. Griswold was unable to attend the event on Saturday in Rio Grande County but sent personal apologies to the group. Griswold is a former Obama staffer and is considered the strong frontrunner to secure the Democratic nomination.
Diane Mitsch Bush
Diane Mitsch Bush, one candidate for the third congressional district, made her second visit to Rio Grande County on Saturday. Bush reviewed her record serving as a county commissioner and three-term Colorado State House representative. She hopes to take this experience and record to the United State House of Representatives if she successfully secures the Democratic nomination to challenge Representative Scott Tipton. Bush prides herself on being a politician who walks the walk rather than just talking big and is also willing to work across the aisle to find solutions for Colorado.
Erik Underwood, a candidate for governor of Colorado, also made his second appearance to Rio Grande County. Underwood is a political outsider and was proud to announce he is going through the caucus and assembly process to try and secure a place on the primary ballot in a crowded field for governor. Underwood stated he believes he is the only candidate in the race that truly wants to repeal TABOR and would campaign to all 64 counties in Colorado to explain the reasons this needs to be done. He also shared program ideas for “Dreamers” to come out of the shadows and a program to help fund projects in rural Colorado.