When it comes to politics in Leadville and Lake County, perhaps the most noteworthy news is found in the numbers. When it comes to political party affiliation, more and more local voters are choosing to go rogue and declaring themselves as unaffiliated. And that goes for the candidates as well.
Who could blame them? After the contentious 2016 Lake County Democratic Central Committee Caucus which left many long time local Democrats shaking their heads in disbelief after one of the most disrespectful transfers of leadership this small mountain community has witnessed in modern times, the “party of the people” continues to be challenged to keep precinct representation filled. Combine that with very little solid, consistent leadership in what has been Lake County’s dominant party for decades and it’s clear that voters – and candidates – are “jumping ship,” and going it alone.
And the voter registration numbers don’t lie. According to Lake County Clerk and Recorder Patty Berger, whose office is charged to oversee elections, the number of registered Lake County Democrats stands at 1666, offset against an historic 1300 unaffiliated voters.
On the other side of the aisle, while their strong showing in last December’s Parade of Lights indicated that Lake County Republicans can actually mobilize in an effective manner, a check of candidate affidavits indicates that the local GOP was able to produce only one candidate for the SIX county positions which will be decided at the polls next November. At present there are 751 registered Lake County Republicans.
But perhaps Lake County voters are simply on trend with the rest of the country, as the old two-party system slowly loses its footing, with younger, millennial voters ditching tradition and choosing leaders who will actually REPRESENT them instead of party or personal agendas. So maybe there’s good news for Lake County after all.
In addition, the political rules have changed as well, allowing unaffiliated voters to engage in the primary process. That’s because Colorado voters last year passed a ballot measure allowing those who choose not to join a political party to participate in the party primaries. Unaffiliated voters, however, can only pick one primary to vote in— they can’t vote in both. All registered voters will have their say in the June 26 primary election.
But tonight, it’s caucus time. It’s Super Tuesday! Well, these days, maybe it’s just Tuesday, but if you’re interested, you can still check things out. While everyone is welcome to attend, only those who are registered with their party will be able to actively participate. Tonight the Lake County Democrats will caucus at the Lake County High School. As for the Lake County Republicans, you can find them in the Masonic Lodge at 619 Harrison Avenue. For both events, check in begins at 6:30 p.m. with things getting underway at 7 p.m.
For now, here’s the breakdown of who has officially thrown their hat into the ring. Of course, this could very well change as the political season starts to gain momentum. Good luck to all and may you conduct your campaigns and actions in a manner worthy of representing the fine residents of Leadville and Lake County!
Lake County Treasurer
- Padric Smith (D) – Incumbent
Lake County Assessor
- Miguel Martinez (D) – Incumbent
Lake County Commissioner, District 1
- Kayla Marcella (D)
- Whittney Smythe-Smith (D)
Lake County Clerk & Recorder
- Patty Berger (unaffiliated) – Incumbent
- Bethany Maher (D)
Lake County Sheriff
- John Padgett (D)
- William Kirkland (unaffiliated)
- Robert Glenny (R)
Lake County Coroner
- Shannon Kent (D) – Incumbent
There you have it, as of today these are the choices for the 3717 registered voters of Lake County. Remember, there’s still time to register to vote and plenty of time to throw your hat into the ring. . . if you dare!