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Chaffee County Democrats and the Colorado Democracy Tour Take the Stage at the Hutchinson Homestead 

 Amid a sea of American flags, local, state, and federal candidates held the attention of more than 80 Chaffee County voters at the Hutchinson Homestead this past Saturday. Former Chaffee County Democratic Chair, Bill Baker, began the program by remembering two long-time Democrats Steve Kucera and Si Gonzales, and thanked Century Club Members for their substantial financial support. 

The 2022 Big Tent Democracy Tour was held at the historic Hutchinson Ranch. Courtesy photo.

The emcee for the afternoon was Chaffee County Commissioner Keith Baker, who introduced Morgan Carroll, the Colorado State Chairwoman who reinforced the critical initiatives that Democrats fought for and passed in recent years.

Carroll  stressed the importance of the upcoming general election; from election integrity to women’s reproductive rights and emphatically stated the critical need to get out the vote.  

State Treasurer Dave Young spoke about his work implementing the$250,000 Small Business Loan Program, the Secured Savings Program aimed at facilitating a dignified retirement, financial relief for K-12 public schools and the financing of transportation infrastructure.  

Next on the dais was CD 7 Candidate Brittany Pettersen.  Senator Pettersen was instrumental in passing the nation’s most robust Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, Colorado’s Red Flag law, and the Secure Savings Act. As Chair of the House Education Committee, she shepherded historic investments in public schools.

Pettersen is a strong advocate for access to behavioral health care, telling the audience, “Never underestimate how underestimated young women are in positions of power.”   

Chaffee Coroner Jeff Graf was last to speak at the 2022 Big Tent Democracy Tour. Courtesy photo.

Representative Julie McCluskie, who is the current Colorado HD 61 Representative, was redistricted into HD 13 this year. Representative McCluskie helped bring a once-in-a-generation opportunity to direct federal resources including a $2 billion federal economic relief fund to make housing more affordable, increase access to behavioral health care, replenish the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, create more pathways to good-paying jobs, address homelessness, and fund critical efforts to help Coloradans and communities across our state thrive. 

Next up was Colorado State Board of Education candidate Kathy Plomer, who told the audience how the State Board of Education  sets school curriculum standards and talked about the enormous pressure on teachers in the current climate of partisanship. She is running for the at-large seat on that Board. 

 Keith Baker introduced Kathy Green, candidate for HD 60 which now encompasses a small region of the Salida area. Kathy’s platform includes education, personal choice, a strong economy, and veterans’ rights.   

Colorado SD 4 candidate Jeff Ravage is a forest practitioner and spoke about the realities of climate change and its impacts on forests. He said if changes don’t occur to rein in the increasing warming of the planet soon, nothing else we do is going to matter. He strongly supports agriculture, mining and forestry, and a living wage for Colorado’s workers. 

Commissioner Baker introduced three Democratic local candidates: P.T. Wood, Lori Mitchell, and Jeff Graf for remarks. Wood, the District 3 County Commissioner candidate,  discussed his 15 years of experience in local government, including more than 10 years on the Salida Planning Commission and the Salida Regional Planning Commission. He also served two terms as the Mayor of Salida. 

Chaffee Commissioner Keith Baker was emcee of the 2022 Big Tent Democracy Tour. Courtesy photo.

Chaffee County Clerk Lori Mitchell made brief remarks about the challenges County Clerks face including constant disruption of legitimate elections and the assault on the democratic process. Mitchell, who was running unopposed, will run against a write-in candidate. The crowd made a point of praising Mitchell for her tireless efforts toward free and fair elections.  

Chaffee County Coroner Jeff Graf thanked the group for inviting him and said he likes being able to assist families and individuals during some of the worst moments of their lives. Graf is unopposed for this election cycle, and was called to the podium last because he was out in our community doing his job earlier in the afternoon. 

Baker wrapped up the program by thanking the Chaffee Shuttle drivers for their Saturday afternoon effort and Pint & A-Half (Duke and Tammy) for live music in the beautiful setting.  The candidates mingled with voters (including many unaffiliated voters) to answer questions and discuss issues about this critical mid-term election. 

Featured image: The Chaffee County Democratic Committee played host to the 2022 Colorado Democracy Tour: From left to right first row: Julie McCluskie, Kathy Green, Dave Young, Kathy Plomer, and Brittany Pettersen. Back row: P.T. Wood, Lori Mitchell, and Jeff Ravage (not pictured, Jeff Graf).