The General Election is coming up November 8, 2022, now only weeks away. By definition, elected officials, and those running for elected office, should expect to make themselves accessible to the public and be available to address issues and answer questions about their views and their positions on issues. How else do we know what they stand for, and whether they’ll work for us, or some other outside agenda?
That’s what makes this current Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) election season so interesting. It makes the contested race for Chaffee County Clerk and Recorder interesting as well.
When candidates appear to hide from the news media asking those questions on behalf of the public, it is reasonable for readers to ask: why?
Are they hiding something they don’t want us to know about? Are they taking positions they don’t want the rest of us to know about?
It must be pointed out that AVV does not and never has endorsed political candidates, so we don’t have a horse in the race. Our role is to get at where the candidates stand on issues, what they care about and will work for, and what makes them the right person for the elected position they seek.
During the June primary season, only one Republican BoCC candidate (Dr.Alison Brown) promptly answered Ark Valley Voice (AVV) questions asking why she was running for office and what she wanted to accomplish.
Democrat candidate PT Wood, running unopposed in the Democratic primary, responded by saying he decided not to answer questions prior to the primary. But soon after that he responded with thoughtful written answers.
Republican Brandon Becker (who won the Republican BoCC primary) has not been seen or heard from since mid-August. He never responded except to tell Ark Valley Voice he was frantically busy and never answered a single question. He did show up briefly for the League of Women Voters Candidate session.
Asked by Ark Valley Voice to assist in reaching him, the new Chaffee Republican Committee Chair Kathy Rogers said he hadn’t been in contact with the local committee either. She added, “On the record, I don’t think he wants the help of the Chaffee Republican Committee.”
Reading between the lines is rarely good, so AVV will not suppose it knows the reasons behind this failure to appear or answer questions.
At that point, Adriane Kuhn, an unaffiliated candidate for the Board of County Commissioners, who pulled a petition to get on the ballot, was just coming onto the scene. (She qualified for the ballot inAugust) AVV covered her petition announcement, and resent the candidate questions a few weeks ago (September 29). She still hasn’t responded except to ask AVV Publisher/Managing Editor Jan Wondra to go to coffee with her (which given I’m out of town for some personal business, isn’t possible). But AVV remains hopeful, and when we get the answers we will publish them. In the meantime my email is Jan@arkvalleyvoice.com.
Incumbent County Clerk and Recorder Lori Mitchell has responded repeatedly over the past several months, answering questions, explaining processes like risk-limiting audits, and generally being accessible to media and anyone asking for things to be explained. Explain she did. In fact, the Chaffee County legal team confirmed to AVV that she answered more than 1,600 emails from then Chaffee Republican Committee Chair Alan Seeling alone.
Her clerksmanship was so commendable that Seeling wrote to her saying: “I want to commend you, Lori, your immediate follow-up concerning the past years’ videos. I think that what you did was very commendable. In addition, I think that your organization of the counting of ballots in the county is something you should be proud of. As chair of the county GOP, I am very happy to support your continued presence as County Clerk. I can’t say anything about anyone trying to run against you but I want you to know the GOP is not putting anyone up to waste your time running against you.”
Write-in candidate Elaine Allemang who is running for County Clerk and Recorder, has just returned her AVV questionnaire, which will be published tomorrow morning.
A question came into AVV asking how unaffiliated candidates are funded. Candidates, whether with a party or fund committee behind them, have been known to self-fund. In fact, at local levels, this is common.
According to the Colorado Tracer election information site, an independent committee set up by Jerry Raski, has the stated goal of raising funds to support the two candidates not being run as party candidates: Kuhn and Allemang. Kuhn says she doesn’t know him.
The Ark Valley Voice Candidate Forum is set for 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19 in the Salida City Council Chambers of the Touber Building in Salida. It will be held in person, as well as broadcast on YouTube. AVV will record it as a podcast for later viewing as well.