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January 17, 2014 07:08 PM UTC

Pueblo’s Choice for County Clerk: Empowerment vs. Intimidation

  • by: kwtree

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

For the last eight years, Pueblo elections have been overseen by one of democracy’s fiercest advocates, Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz.  Now, Ortiz is being challenged by a 28 year old plumber with no elected office experience, whose associates practice intimidation as a political tactic.


Victor Head, a plumber and activist in Pueblo Freedom and Rights , announced on January 13 that he will run against Mr. Ortiz for the office of Pueblo County Clerk in 2015. Mr. Head has no prior experience in elected office; his main claim to fame is that he was an organizer of Pueblo Freedom and Rights, which engineered the recall of Pueblo’s Senator Angela Giron last year.  During the recall, Head’s organization was often accused of voter intimidation, including  surrounding canvasser’s cars, videotaping voters at the polls, parking cars with large PFR signs in the parking lot outside polling places . PFR rented a storefront outside the Democratic anti-recall headquarters in order to place an overpowering 30’ by 10’ sign.

They confronted Democratic canvassers several times, and held noisy and disruptive meetings in an attempt to disrupt the anti-recall organizing. 

Intimidation is still apparently Mr. Head’s go-to tactic for this election, as well.

The day after he announced, a supporter emailed Mr. Ortiz:

“Remember me? You do. How can you not remember me. You and your socialists/ Marxists Democrats in Pueblo County go ahead, try to hand pick your successor. There is a fundamental shift taking place in Pueblo County and you are not part of the equation.”

Ortiz responded: “Looks like Victor Head and his campaign volunteers will begin their campaign to unseat me with intimidation, but guess what, I won't back down!”


The personable and low-key Ortiz has never backed down from intimidation, and never hesitated to go to bat for the rights of voters

Ortiz has extended hours, opened up opportunities for all voters to vote, regardless of party affiliation. In the most recent 2013 recall election,  the pro-recall base got their people out and their ballots in. The pro-Giron, anti-recall people, for whatever reasons,  did not. Ortiz’ response, via  Twitter:

“Okay, am I happy about the results? No. Did I run a fair election under these incredible conditions, I think I did.”

And even the recall’s conservative backers agree that it was a “free and fair election”.  In 2007, then-Secretary of State Coffman commended Ortiz for his impartiality and thoroughness in eliminating any possibility of mail ballot signature fraud.  That’s a tradition Ortiz had continued in Pueblo.

That has always been the bottom line with Gilbert Ortiz; a true professional, he seeks only to empower Pueblo voters to make their wishes known by voting in elections, regardless of his personal preferences.

His statement about the upcoming election:

My first four years in office was about bringing Pueblo into the modern era of elections and customer service. My second term has been about fighting for EVERY citizen’s right to vote. My third term will be about preserving the advances we have made together.”



Photos of Gilbert Ortiz and Victor Head appeared in The Pueblo Chieftain

Credits: John Jaques, 





13 thoughts on “Pueblo’s Choice for County Clerk: Empowerment vs. Intimidation

  1. Victor Head is the public face of the recall, but by no means the driving force. The newly resurgent county GOP provided the infrastructure. 

    Whether that winning combination can repeat this fall remains to be seen. I'm doubtful.

  2. That's funny, because Head claimed that the state GOP didn't help them. We do know that the "plumbers from Pueblo taking on Bloomberg" is a right wing media myth.

    Pueblo Freedom and Rights got its share of the NRA's $361,703 spent on the recall elections in August alone.  They also benefitted from Magpul's $150,000 "Free Colorado" TV ad campaign against Giron and Morse. The ad was produced and distributed by Americans for Prosperity-Colorado.  Pueblo Freedom and Rights now has an unidentified "non-monetary" contribution  of $4,600 in their account.  My guess is that this is "Free Colorado" merchandise, which can be sold for expenses. I don't think that PFR can legally contribute to Head's campaign – but the simple "plumber from Pueblo" has some very powerful and rich friends.

    It will indeed be interesting to see how much Head's backers will pay to try to undercut democracy in Pueblo by replacing the pro-voter Clerk with a Head in a suit.

  3. Thank you MJ55 for this thread.

    I will add my voice in support of Pueblo Clerk and Recorder Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz. In the recall elections last year, Mr. Ortiz fought and won a pitched battle against Secretary of State Gessler over the rules and regulations Mr. Gessler tried to impose on the recall elections in SD-3 and SD-11. The purpose of those rules were to suppress voter turnout. Mr. Gessler intended to tip the scales against senators Giron and Morse.

    Let's go through what Mr. Ortiz was up against and what he did about it. Mr. Ortiz sent to every voter in SD-3 a card which had the voters name and address on the front, as well as, the voter's registration number and a bar code that could be scanned at the polls to identify the voter if a voter presented it for ID at one of the polling stations. On the backside of the post card it had the addresses of the 13 polling stations Mr. Ortiz opened so people could vote. It was called the "yellow card" because it was yellow. The night before the hearing in Denver District Court on Mr. Gessler's emergency rules for the recall election, Mr. Gessler issued a written order to Mr. Ortiz stating that he could not use the "yellow card" for the purpose of voter identification at the polls. He issued that order in spite of the fact the Colorado statutes specifically allow voters to use their paychecks, their utility bills or any other government document that has their name and address on it as voter ID. Please keep in mind that the names and addresses on the "yellow cards" came from the statewide voter registration database maintained by Mr. Gessler's office and the fact each card had the voters voter ID number and a bar code. Did Bo Ortiz bow to Mr. Gessler's ridiculous and illegal order. Not one bit. As before, he stood-up professionally, with grace, personally testified at the hearing, and fought for our right to vote. And Mr. Head should realize that Bo Ortiz did that for all the voters of Colorado, including the voters who voted to recall Senator Giron.

    At the hearing the next day, Gessler took the position the "yellow cards" weren't a trusted source for voter ID because the voter registration database he maintains at the SOS office isn't trustworthy. The response from Judge McGahey was you've got to be kidding me! Gessler had not presented any evidence, none, that his database was unreliable. He was and is willing to undermine the public's confidence in our election system, the one he is charged with protecting and preserving, for the sole purpose of winning a partisan election. His behavior during the recall elections was despicable. As you can imagine, the judge threw out Gessler's order to Mr. Ortiz and allowed the "yellow cards" as proper voter ID.

    One more example. In his emergency rules, Mr. Gessler issued a rule that no soldier or student could register to vote for the recall elections unless they had a present future intent to live where they do now when they complete their military service or earned a degree. First, we already have registration statutes that only requires a voter to have a presnet intent to live where they live now. It is the same law that every other state in the United States has. Second, as an example, if someone didn't know where they were going to live in 27 years when they retired from the military, they could not register to vote even though they lived in SD-3 or SD-11. Mr. Gessler's rule was designed to suppress the vote. Mr. Gessler was and is willing to suppress the right of military officers and enlisted men and women to vote, the people who protect our right to vote from enemies of the United States with their lives, for the sole puroposes of tipping the election toward Republican candidates. Bo Ortiz stood-up again and challenged this ridiculous and illegal rule. Judge McGahey agreed with Mr. Ortiz and threw it out. Again, Mr. Gessler's behavior was and is despicable.

    What does all this say about Mr. Ortiz? Mr. Ortiz, standing alone, along with two interveners in the case, stood against a secretary of state who was determined to use his office to suppress and block our right to vote regardless of the legality of his actions. He wasn't standing up only for Pueblo County voters. He stood his ground and thereby protected the right to vote for all Colorado voters from Craig to Springfield, from Durango to Sterling, and anywhere beyond and between. 

    Mr. Ortiz isn't an ordinary person. He has true grit and the virtue of uncommon good judgment and an absolute commitment to seeing that people can vote. He knows the primary goal of an election official is to see to it people can vote. No one knows what Mr. Head will say in the coming campaign but one thing is certain, regardless of the outcome, Bo Ortiz is a hero. All of us should honor him as one of those unsung persons who, at different times in our history, stood-up for all of us so we can enjoy our rights as Americans.  


    1. Well said, R 36. I agree that Bo is a hero. He is an ARC frequent shopper, a total family man constantly posting updates of the cute things his kids and family are doing, and not have a single slick professional photo to use for this diary, but he is definitely a hero for Colorado voters.

  4. I don't want Mr. Ortiz to run for Pueblo clerk again. I want him free to challenge Gessler's sorry butt next fall! He'd make mincemeat out of that partisan hack.Oh, well. I can dream. In the mean time it's good to kow that Pueblo is in good hands.

    1. He said that his third term will be about "preserving the gains we have made together". I feel better knowing that even if the worst happens and we get Gessler or Tancredo as Governor, voter's rights in Pueblo will be defended.

      He would be an excellent Secretary of State, or any other public office he aspires to. He's such a family guy, though, I don't see him moving out of Pueblo for any reason.


  5. When Scott Gessler and his [CENSORED FOR VIRGIN EARS] buddy are finally thrown out, they should be investigated for RICO criminal and civil charges. It's time to step up and say, Gessler, that's enough shit out of you, and it's time to pay up. Idiot blew through a $7 million budget for personal use and is whining about the cuts on his budget…



      1. Its a great thread MJ, especially with the assist from R36. I'm not from Pueblo so though I followed the events described by R36 I have no insight to the character of Ortiz as MJ describes him.

        One thing to keep in mind is that since salaries for county electeds are set by the leg and dependent on population and tax base, the Clerk for Pueblo County makes more than the SOS 

          1. educated guess. Lake County, where I live, the Clerk makes $49,700. Class 3 I believe and the same as the Assesor, Treasurer and Commissioner. Larger counties have salaries as high as $80K and there is a bill, which I support, to raise the pay. Has not been done in at least 10 years.

            When Gessler was whining about his compensation I recall his salary as $60K.

            But, as you indicate, a greater reason for Ortiz to remain in Pueblo may be his family. I admire that choice.

            1. I found an article on Colorado official's salaries, and you're right in that Gessler's base salary would be lower than a County Clerk's.  Hick himself "only" makes 90K a year, according to Bartel's reporting here.  Apparently Colorado's pay for its elected officials is on par with its educational funding, and unemployment rate, which seems reasonable.

              I remember reading in the Denver business journal that Hackstaff (formerly Hackstaff Gessler) law firm reserved its right to contract  "at its discretion"  with ol' Scotty for special projects, and we are to "trust" Hackstaff and Scotty that they will not do anything inappropriate. surprise

              Yeah, right.


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