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Local Democrats host state office candidates

by Brian Orr
WALSENBURG– The Huerfano County Democratic Party had a full agenda on Thursday, January 18, with three state candidates and a candidate’s representative on hand to make a pitch to party members as to why they should caucus for them.
There were also local Democratic office-holders, most of whom have announced they are running for re-election.
Those attending were Diane Mitsch-Bush, who is running against Rep. Scott Tipton for the Congressional District 3 seat, Phillip Villard, who is running for secretary of state, Erik Underwood, running for governor, and Grace Aranow, representing Mike Johnson, who is also running for governor.
Local officials Nancy Cruz, Gerald Cisneros, Debra Reynolds, Elisha Meadows, Vonnie Valdez and Bruce Newman were there representing their offices.  All of them have announced they are running again.
Villard, who has a business background in manufactering, wanted to talk about his mission and agenda for Colorado.  As secretary of state, he wants to finish plans already on the drawing board to streamline the petition process, and to partner with the private sector to get people to and from polling stations.  He also wants to make it a top priority to ensure no foreign government can manipulate an election again.  He would bring in the CIA and FBI, as well as local law enforcement to create better security.
Mitsch-Bush, who has been a two-term Routt County Commissioner and a three-term state representative from Routt county, feels she will be riding a ‘blue wave” in 2018.  She wants to bring people together, not tear them apart, and listen to people- “that’s the job of a representative.”  She supports public education, and ensuring health care for everyone. “Protecting the environment is critical,” she said.
She was named legislator of the year by Conservation Colorado, with other awards from various agricultural and women’s groups.  She says she has worked all her adult life for a more just equitable, sustainable and prosperous society in Colorado.
Underwood, a self-proclaimed moderate Democrat, says he has a unique background and experience for the position.  He worked for a U.S. Senator in Washington, then came to Colorado and founded My24 (a digital content and mobile platform technology company.)
If elected, Underwood would make repealing TABOR a top priority, and make in-state tuition free at public colleges, universities or trade schools.  He would also create the Colorado Rural Urban Agricultural Hemp Manufacturing Initiative (CRUAHMI) to make Colorado an economic leader in hemp production.
Governor candidate Johnson’s representative, Grace Aranow, said Johnson wanted to bridge the divide between Coloradoans, create affordable housing, and encourage excellent education.  After a career as a public school principal and Obama education advisor, he was elected to the state senate, and helped pass a bill to allow undocumented students pay in-state tuition.  He also proposed the Colorado Promise, where a person could, at any point in their life, enroll in a higher education institution for two years for free, in exchange for two years of service to the state.
Huerfano Democratic Party chair Dale Lyons (standing) calls the monthly meeting to order. Pictured, left to right are: Nancy Cruz, Elisha Meadows, Gerald Cisneros, Lyons, Helen Pino, Phillip Villard, Erik Underwood, Grace Aranow, and Diane Mitsch-Buch. Photo by Brian Orr.

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