Another Club 20 conference, another great Western Slope experience

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with Irv Halter, director of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, and former Colorado attorney general and U.S. interior secretary Gale Norton, at Club 20’s awards dinner Friday night in Grand Junction. (SOS photo)

I first visited Club 20, an influential Western Slope group, in 2002 to cover the U.S. Senate debate between Republican Wayne Allard and Democrat Tom Strickland.

That was my introduction to the Western Slope’s complex issues.

During most of my Club 20 visits to Grand Junction, first for the Rocky Mountain News and then for The Denver Post, I covered candidate debates at the fall conferences in even-covered years. Every visit, I met more and more folks, from county commissioners to water experts, and the experience made me appreciate the uniqueness of our state.

Now when I attend Club 20 I go with my boss, Secretary of State Wayne Williams, as was the case Friday and Saturday.

Williams Friday morning kicked off the UChooseCO campaign in Grand Junction, which is designed to inform unaffiliated voters about the June 26 primary. For the first time they’ll automatically be able to participate. That night he attended Club 20’s awards dinner and on Saturday the secretary addressed the group about ballot measures.

At the two-day event, I realized that in a way I had come full circle.

Read moreAnother Club 20 conference, another great Western Slope experience

Jason Kander’s candor delights Colorado Democrats

Jason Kander assembled a rifle while blindfolded in his U.S. Senate race, a topic that came up when he spoke to the Colorado Democratic Party at its annual dinner Saturday in Denver.

It turns out that the Missouri Democrat, who now is the president of Let America Vote,  hired the same ad man behind John Hickenlooper’s spot featuring the then-Denver mayor showering while clothed when running for Colorado governor in 2010.

“Jason ran, in my view, the best Senate campaign in 2016, Republican or Democrat,” U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado said when he introduced Kander.

“And it wasn’t just because of his good ads or his family or because he’s a compelling speaker. It was because of his character. Jason the candidate was no different than the father, the husband, the former intelligence officer, the Secretary of State.”

Ah, secretary of state.

Read moreJason Kander’s candor delights Colorado Democrats

A “really good visit” in Conejos County

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with Conejos County Clerk Lawrence Gallegos and his staffers, Marci Lucero, Annabelle Gomez and Robin Cisneros. In the background is Colorado's oldest Catholic Church, Our Lady of Guadalupe, built in 1856. (SOS photo/Eddie Morgan)
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with Conejos County Clerk Lawrence Gallegos and his staffers, Marci Lucero, Robin Cisneros and Annabelle Gomez. In the background is Colorado’s oldest Catholic Church, Our Lady of Guadalupe, built in 1856. (SOS photo/Eddie Morgan)

By Lynn Bartels and Eddie Morgan

Conejos County Clerk Lawrence Gallegos’ family settled in what is now southern Colorado in the early 1800s, but living off the land has been tough since the drought of 2002.

He had to sell half of his 120 mother cows to feed the rest of the herd in the worst drought in more than 700 years — “before the Europeans arrived,” he said.

“We still own 220 acres, but what is happening with the aquifers here is almost scandalous,” he said.

Gallegos, who has been clerk since 2006, holds the same job once held by his great great uncle. He is up for re-election in 2018, but he told Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams during a visit last week that he is thinking of moving to Santa Fe, where his wife is working.

“I’m kind of term-limiting myself,” Gallegos said.

Read moreA “really good visit” in Conejos County