The demise of two presidential primary bills late in the 2016 session didn't signal the end but the beginning of a statewide debate about the future look of Colorado elections, according to a group of Senate Republicans who have formed a working group to keep the dialogue going between sessions.
The Colorado Elections Study Group already has announced its first meeting, to be held Saturday, June 11, from 1 to 3 p.m. in the capitol's old Supreme Court chambers.
The group's founding members are Senators Laura Woods (R-Arvada), Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction), Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling), Kevin Grantham (R-Cañon City) and Kevin Lundberg (R-Berthoud).
Lundberg, the assistant majority leader in the Senate, authored one of the two bills that fell along the wayside as the session drew to a close. "Rather than looking at these two failed bills as a defeat, I think voters scored a victory by getting us all thinking and talking about what the presidential primary might look like in four years," said Scott.
The group has a decidedly Republican look initially but founders urge the participation of all interested parties, including Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, unaffiliateds, etc.
"One positive thing we learned from this session, despite the failure of both primary bills, is that there's broad interest across Colorado in creating an election system that correctly balances the needs of a changing electorate, which spans the spectrum from major party stalwarts to independents," Woods said in announcing the group's formation and first meeting.
"Our experience with the primary bills showed that finding consensus on this topic isn't easy, given the wide array of opinions and interests involved, but we think more progress can be made free from the deadline pressures that cut short this year's debate," added Grantham.
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The election results are in at the local, state and national level, and as expected, Democrats are doing well in state and national races. Colorado has elected Jared Polis as governor; nationally the Republicans appear to retain control of the Senate while Democrats now control the House of Representative.
With a ballot full of local and state measures, voter turnout in Delta County topped 71%, with 15,889 ballots cast. Statewide, voter turnout was just over 52%.
Of the three Delta County residents seeking state offices, Matt Soper won over Thea Chase in State Representative Dist. 54; Mike Mason lost to Julie McCluskie in State Representative Dist. 61; and Olen Lund lost to Kerry Donovan in State Senate Dist. 5.
Locally, in the City of Delta voters rejected a .5% sales tax increase to fund recreation, as well as recreational marijuana sales. The sale of medical marijuana and cultivation/manufacturing facilities was approved by a slim margin. Delta voters also gave the city the green light to move forward with selling or trading the Cottonwood and Riverbend Park, and to sell the old Municipal Light and Power Building.