Have you been so busy trying to make ends meet, putting food on the table and raising your kids that you haven’t had time to bone up on local politics? There’s an election is coming up this November. How will you know who to vote for?
The one thing you need to know is that the same party has been in charge of everything here for decades: the Mesa County Republican Party, which some call the “Old Guard Republican Establishment” (OGRE). They’ve had a lock on local elected offices for a very long time.
So have they done a good job? Judge for yourself:
1) Mesa County’s unemployment rate is one of the highest in the state;
2) Our local wages are among the very lowest in the state;
3) 13.4 percent of people in our area live below federal poverty level ($23,550 for a family of four),
4) Our suicide rate is among the highest in the U.S.;
5) Mesa County was the drunkest county in Colorado in 2013 (based on the average blood alcohol concentration for arrested drunk drivers);
6) Forty one percent of School District 51 students qualify for free and reduced-cost lunches at school, and Kids Aid, an area nonprofit that provides backpacks of food to hungry students so they can get through the weekends without starving, sends 1,800 District 51 students home with backpacks full of non-perishable food home each WEEK.
Yes, you read that right. Eighteen hundred Mesa County school children are food insecure every week.
Corruption, Crime and Self-Congratulations
Mesa County Republicans have also given rise to a long string of embarrassing and corrupt public officials, many of whom keep getting recycled over and over. A few examples:
In 2013, the FBI raided the Grand Junction Regional Airport Authority to investigate apparent fraud and corruption. Gregg Palmer, owner of Brown’s Shoe Fit on Main Street and a former mayor of Grand Junction, served on the Airport Board during the time the FBI is investigating for fraud. Despite this, he ran for Mesa County Commissioner last year.
The local Republican party’s favored candidate for Sheriff this year, State Senator Steve King, was forced to withdraw from the race after he was charged with three felonies and two misdemeanors for falsifying time cards at the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department where he worked, and failing to report income as is required for state legislators.
Rick Brainard (R), backed by the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce (R), was elected to Grand Junction City Council in April, 2013, but got arrested two days later for assaulting his girlfriend. After the “No Brainard Recall Committee” formed, marched on City Hall, protested, showed up at city council meetings and started organizing a recall election, Brainard pled guilty to the charges, stepped down from Council and left the state in disgrace. Three Republican members of the seven member City Council then construed themselves a majority (do the math), and appointed Brainard’s replacement: a man who has a DUI arrest on his record (pdf) with a blood alcohol level more than twice the legal limit, which puts him in the category of a “persistent drunk driver.”
Our former Congressional representative, Scott McInnis, had Congress rename a nearby national conservation area in his own honor. Overnight, Congress suspended the rule that prohibits congressmen from naming public works after themselves, and the name of the area was quietly changed from “Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area” to the self-congratulatory “McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area,” without seeking input from anyone in Colorado. To this day, western Colorado has the only national conservation area in the country named after a person instead of a geographic feature. McInnis ran for governor in 2010, but had to withdraw from the race amid charges he plagiarized a series of essays that a foundation paid him $300,000 to write. He apologized to the public and paid the money back to the foundation. McInnis is now running for Mesa County Commissioner.
There’s lots more. But since your time is limited, if you want even more information on the long string of disappointing candidates that Mesa County’s dominant political party has fed us, just use the Google search terms provided below. They are specially formulated to turn up the most pertinent information highest in the search results. No need to include the information in the square brackets in your search — it just lets you know their elected positions.:
“Janet Rowland” bestiality [Mesa County Commissioner]
“Craig Meis” ticket fix [Mesa County Commissioner]
“Jared Wright” loaded handgun [State Representative]
“Jared Wright” fired
“Sam Susuras” mystery bill [Grand Junction Mayor]
“Laura Bradford” DUI traffic stop gun [State Representative]
“Rose Pugliese” global warming [Mesa County Commissioner]
This isn’t all of it by a long shot. There’s so much more, but this gives you an idea of what Mesa County has been laboring under for the last several decades.
So with so many people running, how do you know who to vote for?
It’s pretty easy.
Vote Against the Candidates with Huge Signs
We’ll make things simple. All you really need to know about Mesa County politics is that the candidates with the biggest political signs are the people to vote against.
These are the folks who are backed by the money bags, not by your neighbors and co-workers. They get groomed (poorly) and foisted into power by the wealthy but completely inept Mesa County Republican Party, whose failure rate for elected officials is now now exceeds that of any other county in the state and whose embarrassment index has blown the lid off any other Colorado community.
So go forth and vote in November without hesitation. Now you how to vote to give people in our area a better shot at a decent economy and a better life. Vote for the people with small signs and help make the changes we so badly need to finally turn Mesa County’s long-sinking fortunes around.