Hello, I’m Claudette Konola, and I’m a Democrat

I spent this evening with a lot of Democrats in a winery in Orchard Mesa. In the beginning it felt a little like an AA meeting, or how I imagine they work, “Hi, I’m Larry, and I’m a Democrat.” People coming out of the closet!
While it was fun for me to connect with a lot of old friends, people that I met during two campaigns for political office in Mesa County, the best part was all the new faces. I first noticed new faces at the County Assembly when we decided whether we should throw Mesa County’s votes to Hillary Clinton or to Bernie Sanders. And now there are even more of us. We are young and old. We are blue collar workers and professionals. We are straight and Gay and Trans. We are Black and White and Latino and … well you get the picture. We are people who value all people regardless of the labels with which they may be tagged.
We heard from five candidates for political office: one running for a state wide office, two running to replace Scott Tipton, and two school board candidates.  The people we put up for public office are intelligent, principled, love democracy, and understand that they will be representing us, not big money interests.
I’ll describe my impressions in the order that the individuals spoke:
Joe Salazar is running for Attorney General, a position currently held by a Republican who has worked against Colorado’s interests in the courts. She is happy to support the businesses of the Guns and Oil Party, but people fall pretty far down the list. Joe, on the other hand, is a street fighter. One needs only see his voting record in the Colorado House to see that. He looks out for people first, something he says he learned from his own ethnicity as Hispanic and Native American.
Joe is transparent. He tells you where he stands, and then backs it up with facts. At a picnic that I recently hosted, he had an oil and gas heckler. As the host of that event, I started to ask the heckler to leave, but Joe waved me off, saying “this is my arena.” He was polite but he demolished every argument thrown at him, gaining cheers from the people in the crowd. I want that kind of guy fighting for my civil rights and for clean air, water, and soil. With a background as a civil rights attorney, he has demonstrated his chops when it comes to fighting for people.
The second speaker was Diane Mitch Bush, a candidate for CD3. She said she is running because she wants to repeal and replace Scott Tipton. She is a very experienced legislator, with a reputation of getting things done by working hard and reaching across the aisle in Denver. She was also a County Commissioner in a county that is similar to Mesa County in its historic dependence on fossil fuels.
And then came my good friend, Chris Kennedy, who is also running for the CD3 seat. Chris is a musician, among other things, so it was fun that he began his speech with the first ever performance of his new campaign theme song, “Standing on Common ground.” A former Marine, Chris mentioned how that experience taught him that it doesn’t matter what labels are applied to team members. So long as each person knows their job, and does it they will move forward, leaving nobody behind. The unique skill that Chris brings to this race is his background in working for internet and cable providers, an issue important to rural communities all over Colorado, and even America.
Up next was Tom Parish, who is seeking a second term on the school board. Tom has been involved with kids in Mesa County for over 30 years. He is part of a team dedicated to helping kids be all that they can be, with the experience to lead. From what I’ve seen, he has earned a second term.
Finally Amy Davis, another candidate for school board is one of those new faces. My guess is that with an active career as a family physician in Grand Junction, she doesn’t spend much time at political meetings. She shared the story of moving to Grand Junction with a four year old daughter, who was not speaking well because of being hearing impaired. The community and public school supported her child’s learning, and now she wants to make sure that every child gets that chance. By the way her daughter is now studying to follow her mother’s footsteps and become a doctor.
Each and every one of these candidates spoke passionately and eloquently about their vision of a better place for everybody, while leaving nobody behind.
Mesa County would be a better place if we elected candidates like any one of these, instead of candidates like the two I ran against. These candidates are accomplished, informed, and seeking office in order to serve their fellow citizens. Seriously, Mesa County, aren’t you tired of electing people who turn out to be felons or sued because of bad business practices? To quote one of the few reasonable Republicans I know in Mesa County, shouldn’t we try something different?
Yes, Larry, tonight I was proud to call myself a Democrat, too.

About Ckonola

Retired banker, community and economic developer. Born in Deadwood, but raised in Colorado.

2 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. mamajama55 says:

    Dems do have a deep bench this year, don't we? Joe is a fighter, and Chris is one of the hardest working grassroots organizers I've ever met. If the other candidates at your forum were of that caliber, and if we organize and properly support them, we've got a chance of gaining ground in Colorado.

    I would think Mesa County is ready for some honest people for a change.

  2. gertie97 says:

    Watch the Mesa County vote closely this year. The school bond and mill levy override are crucial. The county, which steadfastly refuses to ask voters to debruce, wants a sales tax increase for the DA and law enforcement — which wouldn't be requested had the county debruced before the economy improved. Will voters rescue the schools? Will Mesa County's love affair with “no new taxes'' be overcome?


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