Elections

Monday, November 12, 2018

El Paso County sheriff faces new lawsuit

Posted By on Mon, Nov 12, 2018 at 9:39 AM

Keith Duda and his daughter, Caitlyn, filed a lawsuit on Nov. 9 against El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Keith Duda and his daughter, Caitlyn, filed a lawsuit on Nov. 9 against El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder.
Former El Paso County Sheriff's Sgt. Keith Duda and his daughter, Caitlyn Duda, have filed a federal lawsuit against Sheriff Bill Elder, alleging retaliation against them for reporting incidents that involved Lt. Bill Huffor.

The lawsuit, filed Nov. 9, also alleges Elder retaliated against Keith Duda for supporting the campaign of Elder's primary opponent, Mike Angley, though he did not do so on county time. Duda also alleges that Elder fired him after a story appeared in the Independent about the retaliation against him and his daughter.

From the lawsuit:
Keith Duda also spoke to the press as a private citizen about a matter of public concern: unlawful discrimination, retaliation, and political retribution in the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and by EPSO members.

Keith Duda was not acting pursuant to his job duties when he spoke to the press about unlawful discrimination, retaliation, and political retribution in the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and by EPSO members.

Keith Duda’s speech about unlawful discrimination, retaliation, and political retribution in the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and by EPSO members was not personal to him, but was directed to informing the community at large about acts committed by EPSO employees.
We've reached out to the Sheriff's Office for a comment and will update if we hear back.

The Sheriff's Office declined to comment.

Here's the lawsuit:
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Monday, November 5, 2018

Time to vote is now!

Posted By on Mon, Nov 5, 2018 at 9:26 AM

2018electionbug.jpg
Less than half of Colorado's 3.8 million registered voters had cast ballots by the morning of Nov. 5, one day before the Nov. 6 midterm elections.

According to Secretary of State Wayne Williams, 1.5 million voters had cast ballots, with women casting 55,000 more ballots than men and Democrats (519,833) casting about 4,700 more ballots than Republicans (515,131). Voters who are unaffiliated at cast 461,154 votes, Williams report showed.

In El Paso County, 170,519 people had voted by the morning of Nov. 5 with 39,320 Democrats voting, 79,862 Republicans voting and 48,681 unaffiliated voters casting ballots.

The point is, VOTE!

To find out all the details of how you can still vote in this crucial election, go to www.epcvotes.com.

Do not mail your ballot. It's too late for the U.S. Postal Service to guarantee election workers will receive your ballot.
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Thursday, November 1, 2018

Dems, GOP hope to push Colorado Springs to the polls ahead of Election Day

Posted By on Thu, Nov 1, 2018 at 5:06 PM

Ben and Jerry's co-founder Ben Cohen, right, scoops ice cream at a campaign event for Stephany Rose Spaulding, left. - MARILYNNE ANDERSON STARR
  • Marilynne Anderson Starr
  • Ben and Jerry's co-founder Ben Cohen, right, scoops ice cream at a campaign event for Stephany Rose Spaulding, left.

As one Nov. 1 poll showed enthusiasm growing among registered Republicans and Democrats, Colorado's two major parties prepared to pump up local voters.

Democrats' statewide "Colorado For All Bus Tour," which will make more than 50 stops between its Oct. 23 launch and Election Day, stops in Colorado Springs Nov. 2 for the following events (information from Colorado Democratic Party and Stephany Rose Spaulding's campaign):

March to the Polls at Colorado Springs Voter Service and Polling Center:

• 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
• Hillside Community Center, 925 S. Institute St.
• Speakers include: Lieutenant governor nominee Dianne Primavera, 5th Congressional District nominee Stephany Rose Spaulding, 2nd Congressional District nominee Joe Neguse, Attorney General nominee Phil Weiser, CU Regent At-Large nominee Lesley Smith, Treasurer nominee Dave Young
• RSVP online here.

Colorado Springs Canvass Launch

• 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
• El Paso County Field Office, 506 W. Colorado Ave.
• Speakers include: Primavera, Spaulding, Neguse
• RSVP online here.

Church Rally & Service with Stephany Rose Spaulding

• 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
• Relevant Word Christian Cultural Center, 1040 S Institute St.
• Speakers include: Spaulding, Pastor Promise Lee, NAACP President Rosemary Lytle, Secretary of State nominee Jena Griswold, state Rep. Tony Exum, Primavera, Weiser
• RSVP online here.


Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton trails Democrat Jared Polis by 5 to 8 points in the latest polls. - JEFFERY BEALL WIA WIKIMEDIA.COM
  • Jeffery Beall wia Wikimedia.com
  • Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton trails Democrat Jared Polis by 5 to 8 points in the latest polls.

The Colorado Republican Party is turning up the heat in El Paso County, too. Attorney general candidate George Brauchler and gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton will both speak in Colorado Springs as part of their get-out-the-vote tours, says state GOP spokesperson Daniel Cole. More info below:

George Brauchler

• Friday, Nov. 2 at 1 p.m.
• El Paso County Victory Office, 5145 Centennial Blvd., Suite 101

Walker Stapleton and Rep. Lang Sias

• Monday, Nov. 5 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
• El Paso County Victory Office, 5145 Centennial Blvd., Suite 101
• RSVP online here.

A telephone survey of 500 likely voters, released Nov. 1 by conservative polling firm Magellan Strategies, showed Polis with a 5-point lead over Stapleton, 2 percentage points less than the same firm's survey results three weeks prior. The survey also showed enthusiasm growing among members of both parties — 66 percent of people rated their interest in the election as a 10 on a 10-point scale, compared with 47 percent of respondents Oct. 8.

But the survey, in the interest of consistency, did not account for a slightly lower Republican turnout than what had been expected three weeks ago. And even Magellan's conclusion looks good for Polis: "With less than a week remaining in the 2018 election cycle, the election for Colorado Governor appears to be tightening slightly. However this survey, along with the two prior public surveys we have released this election cycle have consistently measured Jared Polis with a lead of 5 to 7 points. Taking that survey data into account and a real chance that Democrat and unaffiliated turnout will exceed 2014 levels, it is safe to say that Jared Polis has the inside track of becoming the next Governor of Colorado. We shall see."

On the same day, a survey by a liberal consortium that included Keating Research, OnSight Public Affairs and Martin Campaigns showed Polis with an 8-point lead over Stapleton. The survey cites "weak Republican turnout and robust Unaffiliated voter support for Polis (53% vs. 32% for Stapleton)" as factors in Polis' likely victory.

Election watchers note that Republican turnout has taken a dive since the last midterm election.

Over 50,000 fewer Republicans had turned in ballots by Oct. 31 of this year compared with 2014, according to Magellan Strategies. By contrast, almost 40,000 more Democrats had voted by Oct. 31 of this year than Oct. 31 of 2014.

And while in 2014, Republican turnout was 28 percent higher than Democratic turnout as of Oct. 31, elections data from the Secretary of State's office shows Republicans leading by less than 1 percent on Nov. 1 of this year.

COLORADO SECRETARY OF STATE
  • Colorado Secretary of State
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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Stephany Rose Spaulding gets Ben and Jerry's ice cream flavor

Posted By on Thu, Oct 25, 2018 at 10:07 AM

stephany.jpg
When it comes to political campaign merchandise, candidates have pulled out all the stops in recent years to attract meme-happy millennials. Case in point: "I Stand with Rand" flip-flops, the "Chillary Clinton" can holder and the Ted Cruz coloring book.

This year, Ben and Jerry's Homemade founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are going a step further. They came up with unique ice cream flavors for seven progressive candidates running for Congress in partnership with MoveOn.org Political Action, which paid for television ads that feature each candidate and their flavor.

Stephany Rose Spaulding, the candidate for House District 5 running against incumbent Doug Lamborn, is one of the chosen ones.

Her flavor: "Rocky Mountain Rose."


A video caption from MoveOn.org describes the flavor as "Colorado’s own Palisade peaches and pecans, in a light 'care'-amel base."

Cohen and Greenfield are making 40 pints of each ice cream flavor by hand in their home, says Edward Erikson, a consultant who works with Cohen. You can enter to win a pint by texting "ICECREAM" to 668366 or by signing up online to host or attend a campaign event.

Each pint will be signed by Cohen and Greenfield, Erikson says.


It'll take a lot of ice cream to win over all of District 5's Republicans, and Spaulding is definitely the underdog in this race. FiveThirtyEight gave her a 1 in 40 chance of winning, and pollsters consider District 5, where Lamborn's already won six times, an uphill battle for any Democrat.

But Erikson says that's part of the reason she was so appealing to Cohen and Greenfield, who purposely looked for candidates running in places "where we thought we could be most helpful."

"[District 5] is not viewed as being competitive, but looking at that district and looking at the changing demographics in Colorado we think that the math could be turning there," Erikson says. "It might not turn this cycle, but we think it could turn soon. And [Spaulding] is an exceptionally dynamic candidate who we were drawn to and wanted to support."

The other candidates include Jess King of Pennsylvania, Lauren Underwood of Illinois, Aftab Pureval of Ohio, J.D. Scholten of Iowa, Ammar Campa Najjar of California and James Thompson of Kansas.
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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Election Day jitters? It's OK if you don't have your ballot yet

Posted By on Thu, Oct 18, 2018 at 4:49 PM

2018electionbug.jpg
We made a cool Instagram post recently to remind people to vote in the midterm election, and got a couple of comments from some proactive voters. They were wondering why only half of their household's ballots had arrived in the mail.

It sounded worrisome, because the only thing worse than not being able to vote, is not being able to vote while watching a family member vote for the people you don't like. Right?

Turns out, it's too early to worry. Kristi Ridlen, spokesperson for the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office, calls this "a very common issue."

"That happens to a lot of households and to a lot of people, where you’ll get some ballots one day, you’ll get some the next day and then you could get the remaining two days later," Ridlen says. "It’s a mass mailing, pretty much, is what it is, so depending on if it gets shuffled around when they’re processing that mail at the U.S. Postal Service, that tends to happen."

If you don't have your ballot by the end of the day Friday, Oct. 19, and have ensured that your current address is on file by visiting govotecolorado.com, Ridlen says to give her office a call at 719/575-VOTE (8683).
Ballots aren't forward-able, Ridlen notes, so it's important to make sure that your address is updated. The deadline for doing so is Oct. 29.

All ballots must be returned to the Clerk’s Office by 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 6, to be counted. (Postmarked ballots received after that won't be counted.)

You can vote in one of three ways:

1) Mail your ballot back with extra postage. Don't just slap a stamp on it — that won't be enough to mail your ballot. Total postage of $0.71 is needed because the ballot is two sheets.

2) Drop it off. A complete list of ballot drop boxes, open 24/7 and under video surveillance, is located here.

3) Vote in person. Voter Service and Polling Centers in El Paso County are listed here. (You can also visit these centers to register to vote, update your address, drop off a ballot or replace a soiled ballot.)

Visit epcvotes.com for more information on the upcoming election.

And if you need a ride, Lyft and Uber are both offering free and discount transportation to polling places on Election Day.

Lyft is distributing promo codes for 50 percent off rides to voting locations, through nonprofits including Vote.org, Nonprofit Vote and TurboVote. The company will offer free rides to underserved communities in partnership with Voto Latino, local Urban League affiliates, the National Federation of the Blind and more. The app will also include a tool to help passengers find a polling location.

Uber will add a "Get to the Polls" button to its app Nov. 6 to help voters find their nearest polling places and quickly book a ride. The company is also working with nonprofits #VoteTogether and Democracy Works to provide free rides to the polls. Those nonprofits will select certain areas, probably those that have a high need from a transportation perspective, and distribute codes that way, Elite Daily reports.
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Monday, October 15, 2018

Tony Wolusky wants to be on University of Colorado's Board of Regents

Posted By on Mon, Oct 15, 2018 at 8:17 AM

Dr. Tony Wolusky - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • Dr. Tony Wolusky
After the Indy endorsements were released this week, we received a lot of email and phone calls.
There were a few thank yous in there, along with some complaints, and a few candidates disappointed that we hadn't made an endorsement in their race.

We've said it before and we'll say it again: It was a very long ballot this year, and we just couldn't  examine every race.

Still, one call stood out. Dr. Tony Wolusky, the Democrat running for University of Colorado Board of Regents in District 5 (that's us) said he had been frustrated by the lack of attention on the race — especially since it was such a key role when it comes to controlling student debt.

OK, you got us Wolusky. We're pretty sympathetic to that issue. It's hard not to be considering how the heavy burden of debt steers a young person's life and opportunities. Plus the nine-member regent board, long dominated by Republicans, does a lot of important things like pick the next president of the CU system, for instance, and approve the budget, set policies, determine degree programs and (important to Wolusky's point) decide whether to raise, lower or freeze tuition.

While we still aren't endorsing in the race, we agreed to meet and talk with Wolusky about his race against Republican Chance Hill, and we encourage you to learn more about your regent candidates.

Here are a few things Wolusky wanted to point out:
• Big student debt loads (the average in Colorado in 2017 was estimated to be $26,095 by the Congress & Student Debt report) take young people years to pay off and create a lot of emotional pressure in their lives. Wolusky, who teaches at several colleges, has had students at Pikes Peak Community College who couldn't afford textbooks and says about half his students at Metropolitan State University of Denver are single moms. Food insecurity is incredibly common among his students. The CU system, he says, doesn't need to cost students so much. Perhaps it could cut back on salaries, some of which are near $1 million (and that isn't including the multimillion dollar contract given to CU's head coach).
He adds that the system spends too much on "prestige projects," such as huge figures expended on marketing, when it could use that money to help students. CU ranks 48th nationally in state funding for higher education. "They do a lot of things," he says, "that I think are a way to pat yourself on the back."
If the system could cut back on such expenses, he says, perhaps it could at least freeze tuition for a year instead of raising it. The system might also be able to offer students with heavy course loads some free classes each semester.

• Wolusky is a big proponent of diversity in the system. He notes that many young minority students are priced out of the system. That's a particular shame, he says, because one of the most enriching part of college should be learning about, and befriending people, who are different than you.

• Stopping sex assault on campus has to be a major priority, Wolusky says. He thinks we should educate students within the first month, focusing particularly on men. Wolusky says that in his time as an attorney he saw how deeply scarred victims of sexual assault are and wants to do whatever he can to prevent it.

• Wolusky says the current regents spend too much time on political issues, saying he's witnessed them discussing the need to classify conservative students as "minorities" and offer them the same support as, say, students of color. Another time, he says, the regents spent a long time talking about how to take the word " liberal" out of liberal arts.
The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs - THE UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO AT COLORADO SPRINGS
  • The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
  • The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
Here are a few things you should know about Wolusky's background:
• He went to the Air Force Academy and served in the Air Force for 28 years, even teaching at the AFA as an Associate Professor of Law and serving as the Deputy Staff Judge Advocate for the Superintendent before retiring from active duty in Colorado Springs in 2004.

• He has five degrees: A bachelor's in public administration and international relations, a master's in education, a master's in international relations, a juris doctorate and a Ph.D. in education. (In contrast, Sue Sharkey, the current chair of the Board of Regents, which oversees the entire CU system, doesn't have any degree.)

• He teaches and has taught at many colleges including current stints at Pikes Peak Community College and Metropolitan State University of Denver.

• He's an attorney with 30 years experience who has served both as a deputy district attorney and a public defender.

• He has four daughters and a grandson.
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Friday, October 5, 2018

Sheriff Bill Elder will be "more than done" after his next term

Posted By on Fri, Oct 5, 2018 at 4:29 PM

Elder: Not looking for a third term. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Elder: Not looking for a third term.
It's apparently been a rough four years for El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder, who's seeking a second term in the Nov. 6 election.

Elder, a Republican, is a shoo-in for another four years, because the county is dominated by Republican voters. But a recent email exchange with a subordinate (obtained by the Indy through an open records request) makes it sound like he's not crazy about the job he's in.

On Aug. 29, Lt. Charles Kull sent an email to Elder saying he's thinking about running for sheriff after Elder's term is over. "That is of course unless you go back to a three term limit and you decide to run again," Kull says, adding that he would support him.

(Former Sheriff Terry Maketa served three terms after voters allowed a third term. But later, voters rescinded a third term for the sheriff, so Elder is eligible for only two, four-year terms unless voters again reverse the two-term limit.)

Elder's response, sent 40 minutes after Kull's message: "Dude, I will be more than done at the end of this 4 years and am not even considering an extension. We should talk."

Although Kull followed up by asking for a meeting, Sheriff's Office spokesperson Jackie Kirby says no such meeting took place.

Asked about the messages being sent on official government email, Kirby says via email, "The sending of an email expressing a desire to run for political office is not against policy. It is actually quite appropriate for someone within the Sheriff’s Office who is considering running for the position to inform the Sheriff."

Kull had a memory lapse last year while testifying at Maketa's trial, which didn't result in a conviction.

We asked Deputy County Attorney Diana May if it was appropriate for Kull to include a Bible verse on his official county email. She says via email: "Thank you for bringing this to our attention. The quote on the bottom of Lieutenant Kull’s email has been addressed and rectified."

Elder's Democratic opponent in the Nov. 6 election is Grace Sweeney-Maurer.

Here's the email exchange:
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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Stephany Rose Spaulding talks gun safety with Moms Demand Action founder

Posted By on Wed, Sep 26, 2018 at 4:19 PM

House District 5 candidate Stephany Rose Spaulding, left, and Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts. - COURTESY OF STEPHANY ROSE FOR CONGRESS
  • Courtesy of Stephany Rose for Congress
  • House District 5 candidate Stephany Rose Spaulding, left, and Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts.
Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and Stephany Rose Spaulding, the Democrat hoping to unseat Rep. Doug Lamborn, say they often cry when they're together.

A Sept. 25 town hall featuring the pair at Colorado College was no exception. The tears flowed more than once during a conversation about gun safety, local politics and the importance of intersectionality in activism.

Spaulding and Watts both addressed the idea that they're fighting respective uphill battles: Spaulding in a Republican district that's easily elected Lamborn six times, and Watts in a legislative landscape that has long been shaped by the powerful gun lobby.

Spaulding, a licensed minister and associate professor of women's and ethnic studies at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, said she decided to run for Congress after attending the Women's March in Washington.

"This is not the easiest district to be an African-American woman who is progressive and a pastor," Spaulding said. "...So what if it's hard? Life is hard!...In life we don't get to back down just because it is hard and there are roadblocks."

Spaulding recalled that some had asked her why she didn't want to enter a local race instead, perhaps for a seat on City Council or the Board of County Commissioners.

"We do not tell white boys who wake up in the morning and scratch themselves not to run for whatever office," she pointed out to laughter.

Watts' involvement in politics was also born of a single defining event: After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, she founded Moms Demand Action to demand "common-sense" gun reforms. The organization now has chapters in all 50 states.

Watts acknowledged that despite polling that shows a shift in American attitudes about the Second Amendment, it's hard to overcome groups such as the National Rifle Association that have for decades donated to politicians' campaigns and given them favorable ratings in exchange for legislation that benefits gun manufacturers.

"Until we get the right president and Congress in place, we'll be playing defense with federal legislation," Watts said, adding that a ban on assault rifles, while an eventual goal, was not currently a priority for her organization. In the meantime, though, Moms Demand Action has defeated "dangerous" bills in many states that would have allowed guns in schools, eliminated background checks, and more, she said. 

Besides pushing for legislation such as "red-flag" laws and bump-stock bans, and opposing efforts by the NRA to make guns easier to get, Moms Demand Action also endorses candidates at the local and national level — including Spaulding.

Spaulding's choice to hold a campaign event on gun violence could be characterized as daring, in a county that in 2013 passed a resolution defying Obama-era gun control orders, in 2014 allowed guns in parks, and whose representative has received NRA ratings that consistently top 90 percent.

But Spaulding, who grew up on the south side of Chicago and saw gun violence affect her own family — both her brother and niece were held at gunpoint — says she doesn't oppose Americans' right to own firearms.

"I'm not against the Second Amendment," Spaulding said. "We have eroded the responsibility around what it means to be owners of firearms." She added that she feels there's been a shift in popular sentiment in Colorado Springs around gun ownership, with more residents here desiring reforms like those championed by Moms Demand Action.

"It's not about being anti-gun, it's really about, 'How do we make things safer?'"
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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

To end gerrymandering, bipartisan group asks voters to approve reforms

Posted By on Wed, Aug 22, 2018 at 4:38 PM

Heidi Ganahl, Joe Zimlich, Kent Thiry and Sen. Bob Gardner at an event for Fair Maps Colorado. - FAITH MILLER
  • Faith Miller
  • Heidi Ganahl, Joe Zimlich, Kent Thiry and Sen. Bob Gardner at an event for Fair Maps Colorado.

An unlikely group of allies has banded together to support a pair of ballot initiatives that could have a lasting impact on Colorado's political scene.

Amendments Y and Z, supported by Fair Maps Colorado, would transform the redistricting process for congressional and state legislative districts in order to prevent gerrymandering. That's the practice by which the majority party is allowed to redraw districts. No surprises here: That party usually draws districts that favor its candidates.

The term gerrymander dates to 1812 — so this has been going on for quite a while, though courts do sometimes decide a party has gone too far and order the districts redrawn in a more fair manner. What these Colorado initiatives aim to do, however, is radical: Take the power of redrawing districts away from the ruling party and ensure those districts are drawn fairly (which means in a way that leads to more competitive races).
The change in process for drawing congressional districts would be especially relevant by 2020, when Colorado is projected to gain a House seat, according to Election Data Services.

Kent Thiry, the CEO of DaVita Inc. and co-chair of Fair Maps Colorado, was joined by Toni Larson, president of the League of Women Voters of Colorado; Heidi Ganahl, University of Colorado Regent; Joe Zimlich, CEO of the Bohemian Group; and state Sen. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, for a brief, but enthusiastic campaign stop outside the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum supporting the two ballot initiatives.

"This is about fairness, it’s about our future, it’s about holding our elected officials accountable, and it’s about proportional representation, the sacred principle of democracy," Thiry said. (Thiry, a centrist political donor, is known for his eclectic management style at DaVita — which has included such antics as somersaulting across a stage in medieval garb at company meetings. He also considered a gubernatorial run this year, but decided against it.)

Amendments Y and Z, which were approved for the ballot unanimously in both chambers of the state legislature, would create two independent commissions in charge of redistricting. They would be composed of 12 members each: four Republicans, four Democrats, and four unaffiliated.

"Over the last decade, we have seen congressional deadlock and have watched as other states struggle with gamesmanship and courtroom battles, all due to gerrymandering," Larson said. "With Y and Z, we can clear out the smoke-filled back rooms with a little bit of Colorado sunshine."
"The Gerry-Mander" is a classic political cartoon drawn in 1812 depicting the bizarre districts drawn to favor the incumbent Democratic-Republican party candidates of Governor Elbridge Gerry. - ELKANAH TISDALE
  • Elkanah Tisdale
  • "The Gerry-Mander" is a classic political cartoon drawn in 1812 depicting the bizarre districts drawn to favor the incumbent Democratic-Republican party candidates of Governor Elbridge Gerry.

Republicans Ganahl and Gardner took turns at the podium with Democrat Zimlich and independents Thiry and Larson. They used similar language to describe the ballot measures, implying support across the political spectrum is for shared reasons: The need to "hold politicians accountable" and end gerrymandering.

Because they are constitutional amendments, the twin initiatives need 55 percent of the vote to pass. They have no formal opposition, and Thiry thinks the prospects are bright.

"Gerrymandering has always existed, but it’s grown in intensity," he said, when an attendee mentioned the ongoing fight in Pennsylvania over whether Republicans drew districts to unfairly benefit their party. "[The amendments have] really been prompted by the fact that the cancer has grown."
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Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Seven initiative petitions could make it on the ballot this fall

Posted By on Wed, Aug 8, 2018 at 5:26 PM

PUBLIC DOMAIN PICTURES
  • Public Domain Pictures

Seven initiative petitions were turned in on time for a chance at the November ballot in Colorado, the Secretary of State's Office announced Aug. 6.

Initiative backers had to gather at least 98,492 signatures, or 5 percent of the total votes cast for all candidates for secretary of state in the 2014 general election.

Over the next 30 days, the Secretary of State's Office will review the petitions to ensure they meet state standards. Those that do will go to voters Nov. 6.

The seven petitions include:

Initiative 97 (statute change): Setback requirement for oil and gas development

"All new oil and gas development not on federal land must be located at least [2,500] feet from an occupied structure or vulnerable area."

The initiative's backer, Colorado Rising, says signature gatherers faced intimidation and harassment. But its problems didn't stop there. One of the initiative's signature-gathering firms took 15,000 signatures out of state three weeks before the deadline, and a second firm was paid off to stop collecting signatures, Colorado Rising says. Despite those setbacks (pun unintended), 171,000 signatures were submitted by deadline.

Initiative 126 (statute change): Payday loans

"Lower the maximum authorized finance charge for payday loans to an annual percentage rate of [36] percent." Currently, the maximum charges are $20 for the first $300 loaned, 7.5 percent of any amount over $300, and a 45 percent interest rate.

The Denver Post reports that initiative backers gathered nearly 190,000 signatures.

Initiative 153 (statute change): Transportation funding

Increase state sales tax from 2.91 percent to 3.52 percent, in order to fund up to $6 billion in bonds for construction and maintenance of roads, bridges and highways. The initiative requires "45% of the new revenue to fund state transportation safety, maintenance, and congestion-related projects; 40% to fund municipal and county transportation projects; and 15% to fund multimodal transportation projects, including bike, pedestrian, and transit infrastructure."

Organizers collected about 198,000 signatures, the Post reports.

Initiative 167 (statute change): Authorize bonds for transportation projects

Use existing state revenues to purchase $3.5 billion in bonds for road and bridge construction and improvements. Mayor John Suthers, who opposes Initiative 153, has been a vocal supporter of this initiative, titled "Fix Our Damn Roads," which does not include a tax increase.

Backers turned in more than 150,000 signatures, according to the Post.

Initiative 173 (constitutional amendment): Campaign contributions

This "anti-Jared Polis" measure limits candidates' ability to fund their own campaigns: If a candidate "directs more than [$1 million] to support his or her election, then all candidates in the same election shall be entitled to accept aggregate contributions for a primary and general election at five times the [normally allowed] rate."

The Post reports that backers gathered 212,000 signatures.

Initiative 108 (constitutional amendment): Just compensation for reduction in fair market value by government law or regulation

Requires the government to pay compensation to private property owners when new laws or regulations reduce a property's fair market value. This is a response to Initiative 97, which could reduce the value of property that, per the initiative's requirements, could no longer be used for oil and gas development.

Organizers collected 209,000 signatures, the Post reports.

Initiative 93 (constitutional amendment): Funding for public schools

Increase state taxes by $1.6 billion to "improve, support and enhance" preschool through high school "programs, resources and opportunities." The money will come from an incremental income tax increase for people making more than $150,000 (using four tax brackets, starting at 0.37 percent and increasing to 3.62 percent for income over $500,000); and a corporate tax rate increase of 1.37 percent.

Backers turned in about 179,000 signatures, the Post reports.
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Friday, July 6, 2018

El Paso County leads state in number of rejected primary ballots

Posted By on Fri, Jul 6, 2018 at 4:00 PM

SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Shutterstock.com

Colorado's first semi-open primary election was confusing for unaffiliated voters — many of whom didn't get the memo that they could only turn in one ballot — but it wasn't quite as confusing as some had feared.

"Statewide, 6,914 ballots were rejected because unaffiliated voters — who received both a Republican and a Democratic ballot in the mail — mistakenly returned both, according to the Secretary of State's office. That's a rejection rate of 2.4 percent."

El Paso County voters didn't do quite as well, according to numbers provided by Kristi Alfonso, spokesperson for the Clerk and Recorder's Office. With 1,516 ballots disqualified, the county had the highest rejection rate in the state, barring a few sparsely populated rural counties: 4.8 percent.

But that's still better than what some opponents of Proposition 108, which allowed unaffiliated voters to have a say in primaries, had anticipated. One argument against the proposition, cited by the Legislative Council of the Colorado General Assembly in its 2016 State Ballot Information Booklet, was that 7 percent of ballots likely would be rejected due to unaffiliated voters returning both ballots.

In a July 6 statement, Secretary of State Wayne Williams said he was "incredibly proud" of efforts by county workers and media organizations that helped educate unaffiliated voters about the right way to vote.

"Our office will be working with the clerks to improve the percentage in our next primary election, in 2020," he added.

This year, a record-breaking 141,732 ballots were cast in El Paso County, including 34,027 by unaffiliated voters, 34,664 by Democrats and 73,034 by Republicans. That amounts to a turnout rate of over 36 percent. In the 2016 primary, only 86,000 voters returned ballots, Alfonso said in an email.

Around 58 percent of unaffiliated county residents returned Republican ballots, while 42 percent returned Democratic ballots.

Feeling competitive? Here's a look at the rejection rates for people voting more than once in the state's 10 largest counties:

El Paso County: 4.8 percent (1,611 ballots rejected)
City and County of Denver: 2.6 percent (942 rejected)
Arapahoe County: 2.7 percent (802 rejected)
Jefferson County: 1.9 percent (744 rejected)
Adams County: 0.4 percent (79 rejected)
Larimer County: 1.7 percent (365 rejected)
Boulder County: 0.9 percent (203 rejected)
Douglas County: 1.4 percent (247 rejected)
Weld County: 2.7 percent (304 rejected)
Pueblo County: 2.0 percent (116 rejected)

And here's a recap of the election results: Incumbent Rep. Doug Lamborn won the District 5 Republican primary with 52 percent of the vote; Jared Polis won the Democratic governor's primary with 39 percent of the county vote and 44 percent of the statewide vote; Walker Stapleton took the Republican nomination for governor with nearly 48 percent of the county and statewide vote; Marc Snyder won the state's District 18 Democratic primary with 55 percent of the vote; and Sheriff Bill Elder won the Republican primary with 58 percent. In the biggest nail-biter, Democratic attorney general candidate Phil Weiser lost to Joe Salazar by a margin of 5.4 percent in El Paso County, but won the statewide race by less than 1 percent.
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Friday, June 22, 2018

El Paso county ballot dropbox and polling locations for the primary elections

Posted By on Fri, Jun 22, 2018 at 1:00 AM

It's too late to mail your ballot. Good news is you'll get a sticker when you visit a dropbox in person. - SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Shutterstock.com
  • It's too late to mail your ballot. Good news is you'll get a sticker when you visit a dropbox in person.
June 20 was the last day for voters to mail in their 2018 Colorado primary ballots, so don't even try. Any voters that missed the mail-in deadline will need to submit their ballots in person at a polling location or at one of various drop-boxes (ballots received after 7 p.m. on June 26 will not be counted).

The Google Map below shows all the polling locations and drop-boxes in El Paso county. Locations marked with a person icon offer in-person voting and registration, and vehicle icons mark drive-up dropbox locations. Green markers indicate dropbox-only locations, and locations marked red are only open on Monday, June 25, and Tuesday, June 26 (Election Day).

All the drop-boxes are accessible 24/7 with the exceptions of The Independence Center on S. Tejon St. and the County Clerk's Office on Fort Carson. Click on a location to see hours of operation and directions.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The best of the worst campaign ads: 2018 primary edition

Posted By on Wed, Jun 20, 2018 at 4:06 PM

Doug Lamborn has a very sad ad. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Doug Lamborn has a very sad ad.

The June 26 primary election is just right around the corner, and soon the smorgasbord of candidates will be whittled down to a single candidate for each major party in contested races. The losing candidates will disappear, taking their terrible campaign ads along with them. So we thought we'd do a round-up of the best of the worst campaign ads heading into the state's first open primary season. Remember, this is film criticism, and isn't intended as a voter's guide, or even a commentary on the candidates' platforms.

So, without further ado:

The four best worst ads of the 2018 primary season:

Gold: The one where Levi Tilleman pepper spray's himself

Levi Tilleman, a Democrat running in the 6th Congressional District in central Colorado, thought President Donald Trump's idea of giving guns to teachers was ludicrous, so he came up with a better one: Give them pepper spray. And just to make sure it would work, Tilleman decided to test it out — on himself.

The most unfortunate thing about this ad may be that there isn't enough time left before the primaries for a Republican to one-up Tilleman.


Silver: Meet Darryl Glenn, he's one tough mudder

El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn wants you to know that he’ll ride waterslides, climb rope nets and crawl through mud to the most obnoxious of soundtracks if that’s what it takes to represent Colorado’s 5th Congressional District, which includes Colorado Springs. The Republican's new campaign ad, shot GoPro-style, features him doing just that.

Ironically titled, "Meet Darryl Glenn," you never even see the candidate's face in the entire video, or learn a single thing about him besides that he's an "unapologetic Christian constitutional conservative, pro-life, Second Amendment-loving veteran." In the video, Glenn voices his Republican battlecry overlapped with the thumping baseline and catchy chorus of "Changes" by Faul, Wad Ad, Pnau. It makes for a full frontal assault on the human auditory faculties, coupled with what look like outtakes clips for a Tough Mudder ad haphazardly thrown together.

It's a step up in incoherence and only a slight step down in machismo from the Billy Blanks-Bowflex-throwback-style ad Glenn ran last campaign season, featuring himself doing pull-ups in a red, skin-tight Under Armour shirt and swinging his big, black kettlebells all over the screen, taking a few breaths between sets to trash talk his then-opponent, incumbent U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet. Glenn lost that race. This time, he's one of many candidates challenging incumbent Congressman Doug Lamborn.


Bronze: Doug Lamborn's very sad ad

Republican Congressman Doug Lamborn, running to retain his seat in Congressional District 5, may want to make some changes to his PR team, because this might be the laziest ad of the primary season. First of all, Lamborn seems to get it backwards: You're supposed to tell us what your opponents did, then insert the clip of President Donald Trump saying it's sad. Second, don't use the same clip of Trump telling us it's sad over and over again. Obviously, Lamborn is using Trump's words out of context, but if he at least changed up the clips it might slip past the dumber viewers. The same clip three times in a row? That's just insulting.

You're an establishment politician, Doug, and seeing you lower yourself to this level is, well, it's very sad.


First runner-up: Stephany Rose Spaulding says a lot about nothing

Stephany Rose Spaulding's sincere tone and adopt-this-abused-puppy background music make this ad appear quite serious on the surface, and she's touching on serious issues, but listen closely and you'll realize the underdog Democrat in a red district doesn't really say anything of substance about Congressional District 5.

We know "everyone deserves a seat at the table," and "everyone deserves representation." But who's seat is it? Whose lives are on the line? Which communities are being impacted right now? How are they being impacted? And what are you going to do about it? We don't get those answers. And respecting diversity and inclusivity sound really great, but what does that mean? How does that translate into policy?


Honorable Mentions:

The McFeminism Award: Saira Rao, Democratic candidate for Congressional District 1 in Denver
This ad had so much potential. Everything about it was excellent, that is except one word: "Vagenda." That one word as all it took to leave a strange taste in the viewers' mouths and completely distract them from everything else.



Most Annoying Voice: Walker Stapleton
If there is one thing President Trump is really good at, it's giving nicknames to his opponents — Lying Ted, Crooked Hillary, etc. If Trump ever had to run in a primary against Republican gubernatorial candidate and Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton, I have no doubt that after the first debate he would be forever dubbed "Squawker Stapleton."



Most Boring: Polly Lawrence, Republican candidate for Colorado Treasurer

Polly Lawrence wants to tell you about the Bloomberg Terminal. The Bloomberg Terminal is in the Treasurer's office and is used to track financial... yawn.

Why do we care about the Bloomberg Terminal? What the hell does it have to do with voters? Why are we wasting readers' time with this?

I don't know. In fact, don't watch it.



Best Republican Gun Porn: Bill Rhea, Doug Robinson, and Owen Hill

Nothing like gunshots to wake you back up. Talk is cheap; shut up and sling lead!




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Friday, June 15, 2018

Sheriff Elder demands Angley campaign ads pulled, TV stations refuse

Posted By on Fri, Jun 15, 2018 at 10:40 AM

Images are from a television ad aired by the Mike Angley campaign.
  • Images are from a television ad aired by the Mike Angley campaign.
In TV ads aired on local stations, El Paso County Sheriff candidate Mike Angley accuses Sheriff Bill Elder of cronyism, corruption and not being conservative enough.
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Elder contends those things aren't true, so hired a lawyer to write letters to the stations asking that the ads be taken down, as first reported by KRDO.

In the letter, attorney Erin Jensen writes, "We respectfully request that your media outlet cease airing the latest Mike Angley ("Mr. Angley") for Sheriff television advertisement (the "Ad"). We recognize that it [sic] not your station's obligation to fact check political ads. However, this [is] a unique situation wherein Mr. Angley's Ad itself demonstrates that some of the statements contained in the Ad are without factual support."

Read the letter here:
But the Communications Act and FCC rules prohibit media from censoring political ads, so none of the stations obliged Elder's request, KRDO reported.

Angley is trying to unseat Elder by winning the Republican nomination in the June 26 primary election. In 2014, Elder was the only sheriff's candidate to qualify for the primary ballot.

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A retired Air Force colonel who worked for years in the Office of Special Investigations, Angley told KRDO his campaign stands behind the ads and can prove every allegation made in them.

As a footnote, Jensen is also representing two of Elder's employees, Bill and Janet Huffor, who recently filed a demand letter with the county. They're seeking $400,000 in damages for a misstep by the county in releasing job applications to the Independent containing their addresses and Social Security numbers.

The Indy notified the county immediately of the exposed information and destroyed the documents. The county has denied the claim.

Jensen hasn't yet returned the Indy's phone call about taking on the sheriff as a client while his other clients are contemplating legal action against the county. (The Sheriff's Office is part of county government.)

Angley says Jensen's representing both Elder and the Huffors "seems to be a conflict."

"Something’s not right about the Sheriff’s campaign lawyer representing two plaintiffs who are suing the same Sheriff…one of the plaintiffs also serving as his Chief of Staff and Campaign Manager," Angley tells the Indy in an email, referring to Janet Huffor.

Her husband, Bill, is a sheriff's lieutenant who the Indy reported made comments to delegates at the March 26 Republican assembly that those delegates interpreted as harassment.

Bill Huffor's pay has increased by 52 percent since Elder took office, increasing from $64,334 in 2014 before Elder became sheriff to $97,604.

The Independent has endorsed Angley.
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CD5 race turns ugly with "dumb and dumber" flier

Posted By on Fri, Jun 15, 2018 at 12:53 AM

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The race for the Republican nomination in the 5th Congressional District June 26 primary is heating up with State Sen. Owen Hill sending out fliers that needle two of his opponents as "counterfeit conservatives" and "swamp things."

Those labels, the fliers say, apply to El Paso County Commission President Darryl Glenn and U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, who's seeking his seventh term in office.

The "swamp things" flier is a four-pager with detailed allegations, which are foot-noted with sourcing in congressional records, campaign finance reports and news articles.

For example, the flier alleges Lamborn "perfectly times stock buy in NetApp — just one day before the firm is awarded a major Department of Defense contract." The source is Lamborn's periodic transaction report of Sept. 26, 2013, and USAspending.gov. The contract was for $680,021 for work at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. But Lamborn bought and sold NetApp stock throughout the year in 2013, according to opensecrets.org, activity that included 18 purchases and 22 sales, including one on Sept. 11 for a value ranging from $15,001 to $50,000. The contract was awarded on Sept. 12.

Another allegation states that "Glenn tried to pay himself $70,815 from his losing campaign in November 2016. But is forced to return the money." That footnote sources the information to the Federal Election Commission report by Committee to Elect Darryl Glenn for U.S. Senate in 2016. The records show that Glenn's campaign paid him $70,815 on Nov. 28, 2016, after the election, but the payment was returned to his campaign on Dec. 7, 2016.

The "counterfeit conservatives" flier also calls Glenn and Lamborn "dumb and dumber," and notes:

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• "Glenn voted to increase El Paso County's budget 42%," which is sourced with a footnote noting the county's 2018 budget. This one is hard to verify, because it's unclear what Hill is talking about. If one considers total funding for the county, the increase from 2011 when Glenn took office to 2018 was about 67 percent. But Glenn might not have voted for the budget every year. That time span also includes voter approval of the sheriff's sales tax in 2012, which this year is expected to generate more than $24 million.

• "Lamborn voted to balloon the National Debt by another $1 trillion dollars," which is sourced with a footnote citing GovTrack.us, U.S. House of Representatives, July 29, 2011, Vote on S627: 218-210, Lamborn vote: yes." This was a budget bill.

We asked both Glenn's and Lamborn's campaign for a comment.

We haven't heard from Lamborn, but Glenn tells us via email, "Here’s my official and only statement: As a brother in Christ, I would encourage Owen to seek wisdom from the Holy Spirit before he designs his marketing materials."

We also reached out to Hill for a comment and will circle back if and when we hear something.
Both fliers state, "Paid for by Owen Hill for Congress."

Hill's supporters challenged Lamborn's petition signatures through the courts this spring without success.

Other Republicans in the primary contest are former Green Mountain Falls Mayor Tyler Stevens and former Texas judge Bill Rhea. The Independent has endorsed Rhea.
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