Politics

Mudge, Glenn Sworn In To New County Leadership

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I Swear: New Lake County officials were sworn into office in Leadville yesterday, January 10. From left top right: Lake County Commissioner Mark Glenn, Commissioner Dolores Semsack, Lake County Judge Jonathan Shamis, Commissioner Sarah Mudge. Photo: Leadville Today/Brennan Ruegg.

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Leadville Today Political Round Up Report

As Colorado lawmakers get back to work today with the official opening of the 2017 Legislative Session, newly sworn in Lake County officials start their first day on the job in Leadville Today.

Yesterday, Mark Glenn and Sarah Mudge were sworn into their new positions on the Board of County Commissioners, joining Commissioner Dolores Semsack who is serving her second term at the courthouse.

While Mudge ran unopposed, Glenn (R) fought a tough battle in District 3, but in the end won on the promise of bringing some balance back to the county perspective. In recent years, the pinpoint focus on youth and recreation has left other local populations feeling disenfranchised, particularly Lake County’s senior citizens.

The Leadville/Lake County Senior Center is located at 621 W. 6th Street. The building was originally brought down from Climax and has seen little in the way of maintenance and repairs in years. It sits adjacent to the new million dollar skate board park and new $380,000 ice skate warming hut.

The Leadville/Lake County Senior Center is located at 621 W. 6th Street. The building was originally brought down from Climax in the 1960s and has seen little in the way of maintenance and repairs for years. It sits adjacent to the new million dollar skate board park and $380,000 ice skate warming hut. Photo: Leadville Today.

“It’s time to make our community whole again,” one attendee at yesterday’s swearing-in ceremony was overheard to say.

Other concerns among residents which have been trending on Leadville Today’s social media platforms focus on the grant monies that has been brought into Lake County in recent years.

“People think that it’s free money, but it costs us and because of the way its cycled through various non-profits around town there is little accountability to the expenditures,” expressed one resident. “It’s created a culture where the people we elected are not making the decisions, they don’t seem to be the ones making the decisions about where the money goes. They simply sign off.”

But after more than a week of heavy snow, the simple concept of governance is in full focus. After all, at the very least, residents deserve good managers on the BOCC: Make sure that residents are safe, take care of the roads, and be a representative for ALL the people who live here.

Mark Glenn, the new Lake County Commissioner for District 3 is sworn into office by recently re-elected Lake County Judge Jonathan Shamis. Photo: Leadville Today/Kathy Bedell

Mark Glenn, Lake County Commissioner for District 3 is sworn into office on January 10 by recently re-elected Lake County Judge Jonathan Shamis. Photo: Leadville Today/Kathy Bedell

As always, only time will tell. But one thing is for sure, Lake County residents are more tuned in than ever to see whether the promises made on the campaign trail meet the rubber on the road.

Meanwhile at the Colorado capitol, gears are already back in motion with the official kick-off today of the 71st Colorado General Assembly in Denver. Already this week, a number of Senate and House Committees have met to make new assignments, discuss the future of the state, deliberate legislation, and provide executive branch oversight. Committee determinations include budget, agriculture, education, business, and many other facets of governance.

Lake County looks to State Representative Millie Hamner (D) and State Senator Kerry Donovan, who represent House District 61 and Senate District 5 respectively.

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House Representative Millie Hamner.

Representative Hamner pledges as she did while campaigning for re-election in Leadville to address healthcare costs in Western Colorado, to protect the state’s natural resources, and to balance the state budget. Click here to connect to Rep. Hamner’s official website.

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Colorado Senator Kerry Donovan

State Senator Kerry Donovan sits on the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Energy Committee as well as the Local Government Committee.

“I will be a fierce voice for protecting and making sure our public lands stay public,” said Sen. Donovan in an interview with Aspen Public Radio on December 2. Click here to listen as Kerry Donovan speaks about her goals for 2017.

As the political net is cast even wider, all eyes will be on Washington, D.C. as the highest office in the land sees a transition of power with President-elect Donal Trump preparing to take the oath of office on January 20. And while on the national platform it’s a time of change, for Coloradans, representation has not shifted, with United States Senators Cory Gardner (R) and Michael Bennet (D), and U.S. Representative Scott R. Tipton ready 2017 Legislative Session. All have consistent information provided on their official websites.

So that’s the political view, from the mountain top to the highest office in the land. As always, your opinions are welcome here and hopefully, to all those who represent the people that live in Leadville Today.

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Leadville Election Results 2016: Yes to Glenn, No to Jail

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Young voters and record turnout on Election night, November 8. Photo: Brennan Ruegg/Leadville Today

After a record turnout and Lake County voters showing up to the courthouse until the last possible minute to cast their ballots, the results are in:

Local voters determined there were more questions than answers concerning Referendum 1A, also known as the Lake County Justice Center initiative. The 1.5% sales tax increase was voted down at the polls yesterday by a margin of 14.8%, meaning it’s back to the drawing board for proponents looking to build a new county jail and courthouse facility.

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Last minute voters waiting at the Lake County Courthouse. Photo: Brennan Ruegg/Leadville Today

Republican Mark E. Glenn secured the seat for Lake County Commissioner, District 3 with 51.58% of the vote, beating out Democratic contender Bud Elliott. Rounding out the Board of County Commissioners by no surprise is Democrat Sarah Mudge (2,206 votes), who ran uncontested and has secured her seat since the June primaries. Glenn and Mudge will be replacing commissioners Bruce Hix and Mike Bordogna.

Sarah Mudge enjoys an Election Day breakfast with her daughter Olive at City on the Hill Coffee shop in Leadville. Mudge is the uncontested candidate for Lake County Commissioner, District Two and will officially be sworn into office on Jauary 10, 2017. Photo: Leadville Today.

Sarah Mudge enjoys an Election Day breakfast with her daughter Olive at City on the Hill Coffee shop in Leadville. Mudge is the uncontested candidate for Lake County Commissioner, District Two and will officially be sworn into office on Jauary 10, 2017. Photo: Leadville Today.

Spac_50Judge Jonathan Shamis retains his position as Lake County Court Judge, confirmed by 1,852 votes of confidence. Judge Shamis was initially appointed to the position in July 2013.

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Voters await the results. Photo: Brennan Ruegg/Leadville Today

It’s been a long race that is finally run. Newly elected officials across the state will be sworn in on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. For full statewide election results visit The Denver Post. Lake County’s decisions by-the-numbers can be viewed HERE. Thanks for voting and stay vigilant!

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Spac_50Bruce Brown Re-Elected as District Attorney

Final returns this week from the Colorado Secretary of State reflect
that Bruce Brown has been re-elected to a four-year term for District Attorney in the Fifth Judicial District, which encompasses the counties of Clear Creek, Eagle, Summit and Lake.

District Attorney Bruce Brown

District Attorney Bruce Brown

District Attorney Brown, upon receiving the results indicated that, “I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve the people in court as their prosecutor. It has been an honor to be the elected District Attorney since 2013, and I am buoyed by the prospect of building on the accomplishments the District Attorney’s staff has achieved. My thanks to the voters for returning me to this important office. I will be working hard to assure the public is well protected, victims’ rights are honored, and that each person accused of a crime has their
Constitutional rights respected and given fair opportunities to participate in a course of rehabilitation whenever appropriate,” Brown said.

2016 marks the 30th year of law practice for District Attorney Brown, who will be sworn into office for his next term on Jan. 10, 2017. District Attorneys in the State of Colorado are limited by law to two terms, unless otherwise approved by voters. The Fifth Judicial District maintains a two term service limit.

Brown was opposed by Defense Attorneys Bruce Carey, Republican nominee from Eagle County, and Sanam Mehrnia, an unaffiliated candidate from Summit County. Election results are posted HERE.

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Primary Results: Mudge Wins, Elliott Moves On

“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”
― Abraham Lincoln

by Brennan Ruegg, Leadville Today contributor

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Sarah Mudge secures the seat for County Commissioner – District 2.

It was victory to Sarah Mudge with 540 votes for Lake County Commissioner in District 2, beating out Joe Swyers who garnered 381 votes. Since Mudge is uncontested in the November election, she has secured her seat on the Board of County Commissioners five months early.

It was a close call in District 3 with a split of only 15 votes favoring Bud Elliott with 465 over Tina Tekansik’s 450 vote. This pits Elliott against Republican nominee Mark Glenn on November 8.

Lake County voters also weighed in on a number of state positions from District Attorney to State Representative, most of which will come to a rightful conclusion in November. But to see how locals cast their entire ballots, refer to the Lake County Primary Election Results.

Follow the state election results as they come in with The Denver Post.

Thanks to all voters for participating and taking interest in local elections, it’s what matters on historic Harrison Avenue!

Brennan Ruegg for President in 2028

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Lake County residents cast their votes in the Primary Election up until the last minute in Leadville Today

Lake County residents cast their votes in the Primary Election up until the last minute in Leadville Today

Politics: Same As It Ever Was in Leadville

“When somebody shows you who they are, believe them!”       – Maya Angelou

Raise your hand if you still have your C.A.V.E. man t-shirt? Do you remember what political message it stood for? Who can recall the Leadville Mayor in the early 1990s who served the remainder of his term while living in a city in southern Colorado, hundreds of miles from Leadville? Vote_Dont complainRemember how enraged everyone was? And what about that young, fresh-faced Republican who unseated the life-long Lake County Democrat in the seat for county commissioner some 25 years ago with a door-to-door campaign that is still talked about to this day; can you name him?

Politics! It’s a word that conjures up a lot of emotion and conversation, especially these days. But really, it’s the same as it ever was when it comes to politics in Leadville and Lake County. And after you’ve been covering politics in a town like Leadville long enough, you learn to ignore the pundits, like the elected official who made the statement “isn’t it great to see so many young people involved this year!” at the Lake County Democratic Assembly in March.

While there were a few new faces at March's Democratic Assembly, a majority of attendees were the grey-haired majority who have been dedicated to the process for years. It's nice to see some younger people step in and do some of the heavy lifting!

While there were a few new faces at March’s Democratic Assembly, a majority of attendees were the grey-haired majority who have been dedicated to the process for years. It’s nice to see some younger people step in and do some of the heavy lifting!

The truth is, the demographics of the Lake County voter haven’t really changed much in recent years. Yes, there may have been a handful millennials at the local political assembly, but most of those were people who make their living from the public payroll.

The majority of non-governmental employees in attendance was still grey-haired Democrats who have been around for years.  And yes, the highly-energetic and extremely disorganized caucus may have seen more younger folks participating, but that is a closed process, so not always guaranteed to reflect what results may be found at the June 28 primary or on Election Day 2016 in November.

And there’s no doubt after covering local politics for years, it’s great to see some new, younger people becoming involved in the process. It’s their time to do some of the organizing and heavy lifting, as long as they do it respectfully, something that may have been lacking in recent leadership transition. But hopefully youthful indiscretion will lead to a more tempered, representative approach to governance. After all, elected officials are still supposed to represent the people, right?

But anything can happen in an instant to turn things around. The favored candidate can make a bad error in judgment or maybe they can’t exactly remember what they previously said about an issue in a documented, public meeting; the results can change things at the polls with the cast of a ballot. So as Leadville Today jumps into the political season, armed with the facts and statements, along with hours of video and audio recordings about who said what and when,  it could be a very different, “on the record,” campaign season for Leadville and Lake County! And with 24 weeks left until the November 8 election, anything can happen, and it usually does! Happy politicking!

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Record Turnouts at Caucuses, Younger Voters Show Up

Record voter turnout, long lines, and a last minute venue change at the Lake County Democratic Central Committee (LCDCC) Caucus Caucus 2016 PressRelease copydid not deter 226 local Democrats from making their voices heard in the Super Tuesday political process in Leadville.

“We didn’t anticipate the voter turnout,” stated LCDCC Chair Brad Littlepage, “but at least we did have the overflow option in place,” he added, explaining the last minute venue change from the Elks Lodge to Lake County High School.Spac_50

Spac_50Lake County Democrats were encouraged to arrive early on Super Tuesday to assure they would be registered by 7 p.m. in order to participate in the process. However, by 6:15 p.m. as check-in lines began to grow, weaving in and out of the Elks Lodge, it was clear that Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders had successfully pushed out the younger vote in Lake County. Sanders t-shirts, signs and buttons dominated the political flair.

But by 6:45 as the Tuesday night BINGO crowd started to file into the ballroom melding with Caucus goers waiting in line to register, it was determined that the Elks Lodge could not hold the burgeoning group of Democrats. LCDCC Chairman Littlepage made the call, and announced that the Caucus would be moved up to the high school.

The standing room only crowds on March 1, 2016 at the Elks Lodge in Leadville, forced Lake County Democratic Central Committee officials to change venues to the high school to allow for the record turnout at Caucus on Super Tuesday. Photo: Brennan Ruegg/Leadville Today.

The standing room only crowds on March 1, 2016 at the Elks Lodge in Leadville, forced Lake County Democratic Central Committee officials to change venues to the high school to allow for the record turnout at Caucus on Super Tuesday. Photo: Brennan Ruegg/Leadville Today.

“Last Friday when the reports of strong caucus attendance numbers kept coming in, I figured I’d better have an overflow plan, so I called the high school and made arrangements,” stated Littlepage.

It’s also important to note that LCDCC members did their best to accommodate those registered voters who primarily showed up to have their presidential straw poll voted tallied and weren’t necessarily interested in participating in the local Caucus.

Here’s how Lake County precincts reported: LINK.

Clearly Sanders message was well received and supported in Lake County, mimicking the state’s conclusion as well, as the Vermont Senator defeated former Secretary of State and U. S. Sen. Hillary Clinton in Colorado’s Democratic presidential Caucuses.Spac_50Caucus Presidential Results Democrats 2016

Spac_50By 7:45 p.m. the Caucus was fully underway, with all of the precincts meeting and filling delegate and alternate seats for the upcoming assembly on March 19. While the candidate line-up for the two seats open on Board of County Commissioners remains status quo, there was a significant shift noted by Chairman Littlepage.

“The old guard was voted out and the new guard was voted in (at the precinct representation level),” stated Littlepage. For readers who may be unfamiliar, the six precincts that make up LCDCC choose representatives to attend the regular Democratic monthly meetings to stay informed on local issues and candidates.

With a reputation for embracing maverick candidates, Lake County Democrats turned out in droves on Super Tuesday, showing their support for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Photo: Leadville Today

With a reputation for embracing maverick candidates, Lake County Democrats turned out in droves on Super Tuesday, showing their support for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Photo: Leadville Today

Ultimately this “change of guard” supports other trends in Lake County, as a cycle of new ideas and representation continues to turn the tide in Leadville.
Next up for the LCDCC is the county assembly which will take place Saturday, March 19 up at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville. For questions and answers, contact Brad Littlepage, Lake County Democratic Central Committee Chairman. 719-486-3488.Spac_50

Republicans Hold Caucus: No Vote, No Candidates

Meanwhile across town the Lake County Republicans (LCR) gathered a hearty group at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville. There were approximately 100 local members of the Grand Old Party (GOP) in attendance, according to Rhonda Huggins, LCR secretary. And if there’s a common thread to be woven between the two political partys’ gatherings on Super Tuesday, it’s that both saw an increase in younger voter turnout.

Republicans“We saw some younger folks take on leadership roles in precincts,” stated Huggins in an interview with Leadville Today. Which is good, she added because the local party is in jeopardy, if new leadership doesn’t step up. Huggins has been the LCR secretary for decades, and mentioned that the LCR have plans to reorganize their structure in January 2017.

While LCR Caucus attendance was high, the agenda was short, as the start party’s decision to cancel its presidential straw poll, combined with a lack of local party candidates for the two open Lake County Commissioner seats, left little official LCR business to conduct.

However, local delegates and alternates for the county convention were filled, according to Huggins. That next step in the process – the Lake County Republicans Assembly – will be held Saturday, March 12, starting at 10 a.m. up at CMC, Room 403. For information on the Lake County Republicans, please contact LCR Chair Betty Benson at 719-486-5454 or betty.benson@outlook.com.Spac_50

Sen. Donovan’s Public Lands Bill Lives, Moves On

From the Office of Sen. Kerry Donovan

After spirited debate on the floor of the Colorado State Senate, Sen. Kerry Donovan’s bill to honor the impact public lands have on our economy and the Colorado way of life passed out of the Senate with bipartisan support.

Colorado Senator Kerry Donovan

Colorado Senator Kerry Donovan

After SB16-021 was amended to declare the third Saturday of May as “Public Lands Day” in the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs committee, the bill passed out of committee unanimously. The bill was heard on second reading yesterday, and passed out of the Senate on third and final reading today. The bill now heads to the House.

“Celebrating our beautiful public lands is an idea everyone can get behind, and I am very pleased the Senate was able to come together in a bipartisan manner to reaffirm this idea,” said Senator Donovan, who represents Lake County at the State Capitol.

“Our public lands are integral to our identity as a state, our economy, and our way of life. By setting aside a special day to honor them, we are championing the democratic idea that access to our beautiful lands should remain protected for all Coloradans, and for generations to come.”

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Winter Weather Warrants New Rules for I-70

Do you regularly commute over Vail Pass? Have you been caught up in the new “Traction Law,” requiring motorists to have certain snow tires and/or chains under certain weather conditions? Welcome to the new I-70 Winter Warningland.

Vail Pass has already seen restrictions in place with the new

Vail Pass has already seen restrictions in place with the new “Traction Law” several times this fall

This winter, the Colorado Department of  Transportation (CDOT) has announced several travel programs impacting I-70 motorists.  While much of the information will be easily made available to tourists and the trucking industry, those who live along the I-70 Corridor will also be impacted and need to know how best to manage their travel over the winter months. 

Two new laws will be in effect this winter:  Traction Law (Code 15) requiring motorists to have snow tires, tires with the mud/snow (M/S) designation or 4-wheel drive.  All tires must have a minimum one-eighth inch of tread.  This law will be implemented by CDOT if weather conditions require it.  

The Passenger Vehicle Chain Law (Code 16) will also be used during severe winter storms. CDOT will implement the Passenger Vehicle Chain Law prior to closing the highway.  Chains or an alternate traction device SUCH AS AN AUTO SOCK will be required for travel on I-70 if Code 16 is implemented.

 Motorists driving with inadequate equipment may be fined.
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Highway 24 N: A Safe Fix between Minturn & Red Cliff?

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I-70 Express Lane May Ease the Pain, At A Price

Also new this season is the I-70 Mountain Express lane which runs eastbound for 13 miles from Empire through the Veterans Memorial Tunnels in Idaho Springs.  The cost to use this lane will vary depending on traffic flow.  Tolls will be collected using transponders, stickers, or license plates.  If you plan to use this lane you may want to set up an account and get either a sticker/tag or a transponder. 

  • Express toll accounts and passes can be ordered at www.expresstoll.com.
  • Express toll Sticker tags  are good for all state express toll highway lanes in Colorado
  • Transponders (which can be set to express or HOV) will work for all toll type lanes in Colorado.  The transponder costs $15.00
  • This express lane is expected to operate 73 days a year, during periods of peak travel only (weekends & holidays). 
  • The express lane is available to passenger type vehicles.  No trucks or vehicles with trailers will be permitted.   
  • Tolls are collected electronically or through your license plate.  License plate tolling will be close to double that of the stickers or transponders.
  • No vehicles (except emergency vehicles) will use the express lanes for free. 

You can be best informed of expected traffic conditions by checking the following:

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The newly formed Leadville Chapter of the Colorado Democratic Women's Caucus poses for a picture after the initial meeting at the Twin Lakes Inn on Sept. 29. The newly formed statewide group hopes to bring more women into politics.

The newly formed Leadville Chapter of the Colorado Democratic Women’s Caucus poses for a picture after the initial meeting at the Twin Lakes Inn on Sept. 29. The newly formed statewide group hopes to bring more women into politics.