by Marissa Lorenz
The regular February meeting of the Grand County Democrats may have brought in a huge
crowd with the presence of a US Congressman, but perhaps the most cheered happenings of the evening were the public declarations by two long-time residents that they would challenge the incumbent Republicans currently serving as Grand County Commissioners for Districts 1 and 2.
Shanna Ganne, Executive Director of the Grand County Historical Association, who recently announced that she would run against Merrit Linke in District 2 (Granby/Grand Lake), gave her first pitch to the local party. And Michael Turner, Owner/Operator/Editor at Grand County Television TV18 and the Winter Park Times, formally announced that he would challenge Rich Cimino for District 1 (Fraser/Winter Park). The District 3 seat, currently filled by Kristen Manguso of Kremmling, is not up for election in 2020.
The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) is “the primary policy-making body for the County and is responsible for the County’s administrative and budgetary functions.” In Grand County, the Board also sits as the County Board of Equalization, the Housing Authority Board, the Board of Human Services, and Board of Health. It is important to note that, while commissioners represent their particular district at the so-called County table, elections are held county-wide and all registered voters of Grand County can participate in these elections.
In addressing the gathered group, Ganne began by noting that, in listenin to Congressman Joe Neguse speak about the generosity and courage and other attributes that “make America American but have kind of been lost,” a chord had been struck within her. She noted that the “working people of Grand County are not always as represented as they could be– those of us who work multiple jobs; those of us that have worried about our housing, because we don’t have stable housing… I can’t tell you what a trip it is to go drop your child off and see three armed policemen outside. We want to be represented at the County level and that’s what is driving me to run.”
She sketched out her platform by stating that “I am very interested in health care– accessible health care– and transportation, making sure that workers can get to their jobs. And I’m also very passionate about housing and what it means to have stable housing and a home to come home to that you know will be safe. (…) I worry about how we’re going to pay our bills monthly… all those worker’s needs.”
Turner then announced definitively that he had decided to run for District 1. “I’ve been in business here for a long time, seen the struggles, raised a family, and have seen a lot that’s happened here.” He explained that he had been approached about running and was uncertain. “I’d never cared about politics in that way. I think it’s scary. I think it’s divisive. But we’re fixing to face a lot of growth. Like it or not, what can we do?How will that growth impact us? Our lives? Our businesses? Our families”
He also expressed concern about transportation. “If you look at our highway, we’re going to be gridlocked in 5 years. We need somebody advocating to try to solve some of those problems.”
As founder of the “grassroots” Winter Park Times, Turner says he listens to all of the County meetings and is now “probably one of the most informed residents on our county government.”
But he also makes clear his intention to represent all of Grand County. “I think I would serve everybody. I was a raft guide. I have spent a lot of time in Kremmling.
It is a super vibrant community.
It is a hub in the center of three resort communities and counties. It is well-placed and important in Grand County.”
“I don’t have a stump. But I do think I can do a good job,” he concluded. “I was blown away by Joe. I have some views too. I’m very moderate, which is important in Grand County. But it’s not about me and what I think. I want to hear your views, because too many of us are just making it; we’re not killing it.”
Tallie Gray asked Turner how he would balance running a paper with being a politician. Turner replied that, during his campaign, his wife and partner Casey Malon would run the paper in his absence with the help of Drew Munro, former editor of the SkyHi News.
“We do have a team in place.”
The meeting continued in the buzz of these messages, with local party chair Susan Newcomer noting that there are 2,366 registered Democrats and 4,000 unaffiliated voters in Grand County, with 10 percent being under 21. “Get them to register. Get them to vote. The demographics might be with us, because the demographics are changing.” Numerous voices were raised, encouraging people to show support to the Democratic candidates by donating money, writing letters to the editors, inviting candidates to speak at meetings, hosting parties to introduce the candidates to neighbors, and just “talking to everyone and letting ‘under-the-rock’ Democrats know they are supported in Grand County.” As Ganne stated, “I would love to share who I am and why I’m running with the people you know.”
Some attendees were interested in donating to Ganne and Turner at the meeting, but the Party says it cannot provide any financial backing until after Caucus on March 7. Ganne’s campaign manager, Cara McDonald, indicated that Ganne has a crowdsourcing site on ActBlue where individuals can donate today and that she would help Turner set one up if he were interested.
by Marissa Lorenz