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Four of the five Chaffee County candidates who are facing competitor candidates for the positions they seek turned up on Wednesday evening for the Ark Valley Voice Candidate Forum. The planned 90-minute forum clocked in at 96 minutes, ending with direct questions to the candidates about whether they would commit to accepting the results of the election.

AVV Reporter Dan Smith (left) and Publisher/Managing editor Jan Wondra (right) ask questions of Chaffee County’s candidates for the Board of County Commissioners on October 19, 2022. Photo by Hannah Harn.

All three candidates running for the District Board of County Commissioner seat being vacated by Commissioner Rusty Granzella were there: Adriane Kuhn (Unaffiliated), Brandon Becker (Republican), and PT Wood (Democrat). But only one of the two candidates running for County Clerk and Recorder, incumbent Lori Mitchell (Democrat) attended. Write-in candidate for Clerk and Recorder Elaine Allemang did not appear.

This is the third general election in which Ark Valley Voice (AVV) together with its parent organization Truth Has a Voice Foundation, has conducted a candidate forum; it conducted them in 2018 and again in 2020 when COVID-19 social distancing prevented an in-person audience. It was the first candidate forum held since AVV became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in August 2022.

Initial questions were presented by AVV Publisher/Managing Editor Jan Wondra and Senior Reporter/member of the AVV Editorial Board Dan Smith. Questions were sent in by the audience from three different directions: the in-person audience in the Salida City Council Chambers, via Zoom and email.

There was an interesting exchange surrounding the last question of the evening, when candidates were asked if there was ever justification in this democracy for political violence, and whether they would accept the results of the election. While Wood, Kuhn, and Mitchell said there was no place for political violence in American democracy and they “would of course accept the results of the election,” Becker talked around the topic. Wondra finally had to ask him “so is that a yes? Or a no?”

To view the full evening’s forum — just follow the link below:

Any audience questions that the candidates couldn’t answer in the allotted time are being sent to the appropriate candidates for written answers. AVV will publish those answers. Note that some questions were similar to each other and those will be grouped for their written answers.

Ark Valley Voice thanks the Candidates for their willingness to serve and for graciously sharing their time with us. AVV also thanks the City of Salida for the use of the Council Chambers.