John Scarffe, Central City. A heavy hitting lineup of candidates for state and federal offices spoke during a fundraiser for Gilpin County Democrats at the Gilpin County Arts Association in Central City on Sunday, July 30, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Admission was $20 and included a complimentary beverage, appetizers and the opportunity to bid on items in a silent auction.
Gilpin County residents showed up in their finery to hear the speakers and support the party. The event raised $2,868, according to Whitney Doss, second vice chair for the Gilpin County Democrats.
Doss said this is the first year she and her husband, Liam Donogue, have been involved with the Gilpin County Democrats. They moved to the county in September and attended a meeting. They were told the Party needed some young blood, and she was elected second vice chair. “That’s how we got here,” Doss said.
Former State Senator and Gilpin County Commissioner Jeanne Nicholson served as moderator for the event. Tim Russo, KGNU Community Radio station manager, spoke first to the large crowd and discussed the snowballing of mass media consolidation.
The print media has been consolidating locally and nationally. The Denver Post is owned by Digital First Media, which holds 18 newspapers in Colorado and has 66 million subscribers and $2 billion in assets, Russo said.
Broadcast media outlets also are consolidating. The Sinclair Broadcast Group owns 170 stations nationally and two networks in Denver, both Fox affiliates, Russo said. This places the media in a handful of wealthy organizations, which have the power to run and suppress stories.
“We see how that works in the last election,” Russo said. Now we are seeing the defunding of the Public Broadcasting Corporation. “These are key obstacles to maintaining a healthy democracy.”
Morgan Carroll, chair of the Colorado Democratic Party, said that in the post-Trump era the Democratic Party needs to be new and creative. The party has a new website with a community calendar.
“Engagement is the name of the game,” Carroll said. “We have our work to do in 2018. We have an abysmal history of turnout.” The party is adapting to local campaigns, and it’s down to a people campaign. “Gilpin County has such a strong tradition.”
Nicholson introduced Tammy Story, candidate for Colorado Senate District 16, by saying, “I feel like it’s my district.” Story said she has been involved in the Jefferson County School District and led a recall for the District’s board members.
Story is an advocate for public schools and said the state has a teacher shortage. She supports the environment and sustaining what we have. “It’s all about saying yes to progress,” Story said.
Michael Johnston, candidates for governor, said we are at a crucial juncture. His family runs a Bed and Breakfast in Eagle County. He is a fourth generation teacher and has been a principal at Mesa High School in Thornton, where 100 percent of seniors graduated and were admitted to college.
Some of those students were undocumented citizens, though, and couldn’t go to college, and that got him into politics. He would like to see the state convert to 100 percent renewable energy by 2040 and create jobs on the way. “This is our chance to be sure we lead in progressive values,” Johnston said.
Gubernatorial Candidate Noel Ginsburg has spent his career in manufacturing and loves it. He adopted a class of 42 kids with a 90 percent dropout rate, but he could see the spark in their eyes and did what was necessary to improve that rate.
Ginsburg also has been board chair of the United Way and founded Career Wise Colorado to help people follow their passion. “We have big challenges,” Ginsburg said. “We’re not just trying to drain the swap but doing a better job for the future.”
Ken Toltz, candidate for U.S. Congressional District 2, said he is a businessman involved in violence prevention and has tried to make changes on college campuses. He is the founder and co-chair of Safe Campus Colorado.
Students can’t carry guns in Kindergarten through 12th grade, but they can on college campuses. Toltz tried to change that and almost succeeded.
U.S. Congressional District 2 Candidate Joe Neguse said his parents fled from Africa and he had wondered what it would have been like to emigrate. Right now our freedoms are under attack in the United States.
Neguse has served on the Colorado Board of Regents and on the state cabinet. He helped register more than 100,000 young voters. “This cannot just be about beating Republicans,” Neguse said. “Health care is a right, not a privilege.”
Gilpin County Democrat Julie Shaw summed up the event: “People are paying attention to Gilpin County.”