Apr 132004
 
Authors: James Baetke, Jamie Way

The Democrats rallied in declarative fashion, filling the Fort

Collins High School library. Down the hall, a small, reserved group

of Republicans made their voices heard in Tuesday evening’s

caucuses.

Approximately 3,500 caucuses were held across the state Tuesday,

where citizens registered with their party were invited to come and

discuss issues with their neighbors and have their views heard.

The primary function of the caucuses was to decide which local

citizens would go to higher assemblies to represent their precincts

in helping decide which candidate their party will endorse.

Declarative Democrats:

Chatter and heavy discussion echoed in the high school library

as Democrats shared their views on which delegates should be

represented in their party’s affiliation.

Moderators and voters alike said the turnout for Tuesday night’s

caucus was extraordinarily large.

To many people, the caucus was a forum to express the pros and

cons of the officials running for either national or local seats in

the Democratic Party.

“What people do not realize is that the caucus is really where

you, as a grassroots person, make a stand,” said Deann Pujol,

chairperson for House District 52.

Ken Salazar, Colorado’s current attorney general, and Mike Miles

are both on the Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate to

replace Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Ignacio, who is retiring from

his post.

“Miles has a fantastic resume, and Ken Salazar speaks for

himself,” said Pujol, who believes the Democrats are in a strong

position to win no matter whom their candidate is.

Locally, Bill Bertschy and John Kefalas are running for the

state House seat and, according to moderators, the large turnout

was due, in part, to the heated battle locally and nationally for

Democratic representatives.

“It is a great turnout tonight,” said Bertschy, who was allowed

to give two small speeches to the room of voters.

Kefalas was not present.

Bertschy believes it is important to persuade 18- to 25-year-old

voters and said his strongest platform in winning the House race is

strengthening education.

“The future is so critically dependant on education,” Bertschy

said.

As the two moderators paced the library, eagerly informing and

answering inquiries from voters, Bertschy had one thing on his

mind: making it to the House.

“I’m going to win this,” he said.

Reserved Republicans:

Linda Anderson, a mother of eight, has more time on her hands

now that all but one of her kids have moved away from home.

A retired schoolteacher, Anderson spends her time home-schooling

her youngest child and also works as a freelance writer and editor.

Her husband is a small-business owner and she feels that political

participation is the best way to get his voice heard.

“I’m at a stage in my life where I’m ready to get involved,” she

told her precinct as she offered to serve as precinct

secretary.

Anderson is one of four people who attended the caucus for her

precinct. She sat among her fellow Republicans in a Spanish

classroom at Fort Collins High School.

When the attendees discussed whom the party should support for

U.S. Senate, between candidates Bob Schaffer and Peter Coors, the

precinct was divided, but people listened calmly to one another as

they voiced their opinions.

“I’m disappointed in Bob. I’ll be honest with you,” said John

Cheney, a member of Precinct 230.

Although the turnout for Precinct 230 was not particularly high,

the group had a common focus.

“I just don’t want any votes lost for the Republicans,” said

Phillis Chantler, a member of Precinct 230. “That’s the stage I’m

in right now. I’m just scared.”

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