Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Democratic Movement Building Strength in Colorado

Democrats rally together as they look to the future

Katharhynn Heidelberg

MONTROSE - Attention, Democrats: Don't rest on your laurels. Instead, serve constituents well enough to be rewarded with yet another election victory at the statehouse - and beyond.

So said party leaders and guests time and again during the Montrose County Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson dinner, held Saturday at the Elks Lodge.

The idea of Democrats, held to be "liberal," taking control of the Legislature in a state deemed "conservative," shouldn't be shocking, Rep. Bernie Buescher of Grand Junction told dinner attendees to often raucous applause.

Numbers are also up in local communities, with thrice the number of Democrats appearing at Delta party functions than in the past and an increase of nearly 300 at a gathering in Grand Junction.

"We're starting to build this party," Buescher said. "I was elected from one of those districts they say a Democrat can't win in. Now, we have 35 members of the Colorado State House and the Republicans have 30.

"We're learning how to be the majority. I can tell you, the Republicans are struggling with learning how to be the minority, but we're going to keep teaching them."

Pat Waak, state party chair, urged Democrats to keep their eyes on the prize, through grassroots efforts and communication about healthcare, education and jobs.

"Those are the things that affect people's lives," Waak said, though she acknowledged there were other issues that are important.

"We need to remind people at the local level that we share the same values. Who is it who's going to make sure that healthcare is out there for them? Who is it who's going to make sure kids get a good education? Who is it who's going to see that there's a job and a meaningful wage and a dignity in earning it?"

Waak's answer: "Not the Republican party."

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