Combating Political Divisions in Teller County

Braver Angels Meeting Packs WP Library; Gains Support by Key Community Leaders

Trevor Phipps


This summer, two community members got together and came up with a way to fight the divisiveness that has plagued the region and much of the country,  as part of a major effort to bring people together more and to learn to disagree.

The idea was to bring an introductory meeting to the community to explain what the Braver Angels organization is all about.


Braver Angels is a nationwide organization that focuses on bridging the divide between the nation’s two political parties. With divisiveness running rampant in most communities across the country, including Teller County, the Braver Angels group has been well received by local leaders who politically lean to the left and the right.


After seeing the workshops and seminars put on by Braver Angels work in other communities, meeting organizers Holly Sample and Billie Donegan decided to introduce the organization to Teller County. At the end of August, the county’s first Braver Angels meeting occurred at the Woodland Park Library and attracted a huge turnout.


Before the introductory meeting was held, Sample and Donegan were concerned that there would not be many participants. They were skeptical as to how many people would be open minded enough to show up to help end divisiveness and bring the community together.

Her concerns were abruptly put to rest as the inaugural event was attended by 70-plus citizens, including many high-profile leaders.


Sample ran the forum, but allowed for much interaction among meeting attendees.  At the outset, Sample introduced two local political figures to give short speeches as to the importance of coming together as a community.


Teller County Commissioner Dan Williams started the discussion, and he talked about how the community was different back from the time, when he lived here as a kid. Williams mentioned how he and the other commissioners are constantly working to bring together a community that has experienced a lot of division in recent years.


“I lean red and I am a proud Republican, but I bleed Teller County,” Williams told the large crowd.


Another speaker at the meeting was former County Commissioner Dennis Luttrell, a veteran leader throughout much of the 1980s. Luttrell recently tried unsuccessfully to seek another term as commissioner. Luttrell who was a Republican when he was commissioner, ran as a Democrat and faced tough odds in a county heavily dominated by the GOP Party. Luttrell, though, talked  more about how he was upset over the lack of communication between different sides in the community.


“We need to agree to disagree and perhaps learn something in the process,” Luttrell said.


Overall, the meeting was well-attended with citizens and local political figures. Two Woodland Park RE-2 school board members were present along with the majority of the Woodland Park City Council and the Teller County Commissioners.


Williams also pointed out that the former leader of the county’s Republican Party, Mick Bates, and the current leader of Teller’s Democratic Party, Laurie Glauth, were both in the audience. According to Sample, the organizers were happy with the turnout and with how many people were represented from both political parties.


“We are very happy that so many people came out to support our cause,” Sample said after the meeting. “It was basically split down the middle with the same amount that said they lean left and right. There were also some people that said that they didn’t lean either way and were in the middle.”


Local Leaders Applaud Braver Angels’ Efforts


With such a good turnout especially with government officials, many council members and commissioners were happy about what they saw at the introductory meeting. Most agreed that this type of unity is something greatly needed in the community in this day and age.


Woodland Park Mayor Pro Tem Kellie Case applauded  the efforts put forward by Braver Angels. “I really appreciate where they are coming from as far as trying to get people to come together and learn to have a civil conversation again,” Case said. “Because for most of us there is no room for politics it is about doing what is best for the community.”


Woodland Park Councilmember Frank Connors also said that he hopes people keep going to the Braver Angels workshops and continue to put effort into bridging the political divide. “I absolutely believe it is a good effort,” Connors said. “If it is positive with all of us in the room, I’m 100 percent with it and I will continue down this path. It is always good to have positive dialogue.”


Williams  added that he was glad to see participation from both sides of the political spectrum. “I think that any organization like that whether it be faith-based, a veterans’ organization or any other organization like that that brings people together rather than tear them apart I am going to support,” Williams said. “It’s really about getting people to disagree with respect and focus on the issues.”


Many of the government representatives who attended said that they look forward to future workshops put  by Braver Angels. The next workshop in the community will be at the Woodland Park Library on Sept. 23 from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. and it will focus on “depolarizing within.”


The organization then plans on putting on a workshop only for those who hold some sort of political office on how to better communicate with colleagues and constituents on the other side of the political aisle. For information on how to attend either workshop e-mail