GOP Meeting Showcases Congressional District Hopefuls; Key Contenders for Local Offices
Even though the final tally won’t occur until next November for many hot seats, election fever is now infiltrating Teller County with growing fervor.
In the last couple of months, candidates for political positions seem to be coming out of the woodworks. And large crowds have been attending these gatherings n record numbers.
This fact was evident at the monthly meeting of the Teller County Republican Party last week, as the majority of their agenda was focused on letting the candidates within the county speak in an effort to rally support from local Republicans. Anyone who is running for political office in 2022 was given a set amount of time to plead their case to residents and party members as to why they should receive a vote.
The main highlights of the event were the appearances of three of the four Republican candidates that are vying to replace Democrat Ed Perlmutter for the Colorado’s 7th Congressional District seat. This is a seat Perimutter, who is retiring at the end of his current term, has held for more than a decade. Teller business owner Carl Andersen, as well as Jefferson County residents Laurel Imer and Erik Aadland, all appeared at Pikes Peak Community Club building in Divide last Tuesday to speak.
During the meeting, almost all of the county’s elected representatives, and scores of residents and GOP Party leaders were present. In fact, the head count reached more than 100 people.
When the congressional candidates were mentioned, the Teller County Republicans’ board decided to start introducing the prospective future politicians via alphabetic order. Therefore, Pine County resident Erik Aadland was the first to take the floor and introduce himself.
Aadland told the crowd that he is a U.S. Army veteran and that he spent time working in the oil and gas industry after he got out of service. He said that he decided to run for office due to several issues he has with the current state and federal governments and the directions he sees them heading.
“Everything I have worked for in terms of national security and fighting the energy independence of this country and the country of Israel is being destroyed,” Aadland said. “Folks, we are standing in a crossroads. And, I think you realize that. I think that’s why we had such a good turnout here tonight. You recognize that the path we’re on is the wrong path.”
Imer was the next up to speak and she started with describing her history as a native in the state and her experience as the Jefferson County chair of the Donald Trump presidential campaign in 2016. She was also one of Colorado’s nine electors to the 2016 Presidential Election and a delegate to represent the Republican Party at its national convention.
“I have been on the ground running for the district since almost a year ago,” Imer said. “March of 2021, I announced my candidacy to represent the 7th District, no matter where those congressional lines fell. Because I knew the people deserved representation and they deserved someone to speak from a platform from which their values could be heard. I am also the only candidate that is going through the caucus process because I don’t believe in buying your vote.”
Carl Andersen, a Teller resident/business owner for 20-years, was the last of the hopeful U.S, congressional candidates that took the floor. He started his speech by saying that the issue of affordable housing has been negatively affected by the increase of regulations on building and developments.
“In a three bedroom house in 2005, a septic system cost about four to six thousand dollars, depending on the soil types,” Andersen explained. “Today, to build the same kind of septic system for the same three bedroom house, we’re talking $25,000 to $30,000 just for the septic system. That’s why it costs so much to live here, it’s regulations.”
After the congressional candidates took the floor, other candidates within the county had the chance to address the crowd of 100-plus. Teller County District Two Commissioner candidates Tommy Allen and Bob Campbell ask for their support from Teller Republicans in the audience (see related story in this race).
Besides the congressional district contenders, all of the Woodland Park city council and mayoral candidates were given a chunk of time to solicit support from the local Republican Party members. The speeches started with former WP Councilmember Paul Saunier introducing current Councilman Robert Zuluaga as a candidate for the municipality’s mayoral seat.
After Zuluaga addressed the audience, other council candidates including Mayor Pro Tem Kellie Case, Councilwoman Catherine Nakai, Don Dezellum, Matthew Hayes, and David Ott had the chance to speak.
Case, the current mayor pro tem, then stood up a second time and spoke for current mayor and 2022 mayoral candidate Hilary LaBarre.
The Woodland Park city council and mayoral positions will be decided on April 5. Most of the county seats will be decided during the Republican assembly and primary, scheduled for this spring and summer.