“Incredibly political”: Grand Junction’s newest City Councilman selected after heavy pressure on mayor

Grand Junction’s newest City Council member, Kraig Andrews (right), pictured here with Donald Trump Jr.  Councilman Duke Wortman lamented that City Council has gotten “incredibly political,” but then made it political by pushing to select a candidate with low initial support, but a solid Republican background. [Photo: Facebook]

The Grand Junction City Council voted last night to fill the vacant District E seat, but only after a tense session in which one council member publicly pressured another to change his vote after the six council members deadlocked four times in trying to choose a candidate.

The meeting started congenially enough as each council member was allowed to name up to three of their favorite candidates from among the pool of people who applied for the vacant seat. The top three vote-getters in the first round continued on to the next round of voting, and that’s where the trouble started. Five council members chose candidate Abram Herman for their short list, three selected Sarah McCarthy and three selected Kraig Andrews. Duke Wortman was the only council member who only selected one person for his first-round short list: Kraig Andrews.

Despite Abram Herman emerging as the clear favorite in the first round of voting, things turned strange and ever more contentious as the farther right-wing council members — Duke Wortman and Phyllis Norris — struggled to tank the majority choice — Abram Herman — and instead push to install a known fellow conservative in the seat.


The second, third and fourth rounds of voting all yielded in 3-3 deadlocks, with harder right wing Council members, including Philip Pe’a, all repeatedly voting for Kraig Andrews, and the more moderate members Mayor Rick Taggart, Anna Stout and Chuck McDaniel voting for Abram Herman.

Phyllis Norris implored the other council members to vote for Kraig Andrews, saying Andrews was most qualified in part because he was a family man with a “young family” and there was “no one else on Council with young people in the community” (Andrews was divorced in 2016), that he had distributed food at a food kitchen and had experience that was badly needed on Council. She cited his experience in construction and as a mortgage broker. Duke Wortman similarly implored the others to vote for Andrews, citing his “diversity” and saying he had worked with “diverse groups,” although Wortman didn’t say exactly how having yet another middle-aged, conservative white male on Council would increase council’s “diversity.”

Finally, after several more tie votes, Council member Wortman couldn’t take it any more.

Apolitical? — Duke Wortman pressured the mayor to change his vote to appoint a former Mesa County Republican Party chair to city council

“I have a comment,” he interjected, his voice full of tension, almost anger. “I’m trying to be extremely political…” he said. “This group has turned incredibly political!” he protested, saying that if this had been the case over the last two years, he would never have lasted on Council. (Wortman was been on Council for 2 years.) Wortman then insinuated something bad or evil was going on in City Council, saying “There’s forces at work … and I don’t agree with what’s going on, and I look to you, Mr. Mayor for the leadership and would ask that you change your vote…I can’t ask you more sincerely than I am doing now,” Wortman didn’t elaborate on what he meant by “forces” being at work on Council that he doesn’t agree with, although it presumably was that there are now some people with different political beliefs on Council who aren’t afraid to stand up for those beliefs.

In the end, Taggart succumbed to Wortman’s public pressure and changed his vote to Kraig Andrews, ending the deadlock and installing Kraig Andrews on City Council for the next two years.

So, who is Kraig Andrews?

Councilman Wortman was right that vote for the vacant council seat was “political.” It was Wortman himself who politicized it.

Wortman knows very well that Kraig Andrews is no political moderate. Andrews is well known as the former chair of the Mesa County Republican Party.

As a stalwart Republican, Andrews is a supporter of President Donald J. Trump, who recently made headlines with a series of overtly racist tweets and statements targeting four female congresswomen of color, horrifying Americans on both the left and right, and generating statements of shock and disgust from leaders around the world. Mr. Trump has developed a reputation of working to fracture the country along lines of race and gender by making outrageous public statements that insult and scapegoat immigrants, refugees, people of color, and women, using terms like “horseface,” “lowlife,” “fat” and “ugly to describe women.” Judging by the increasing number of reports of racist incidents locally, Trump’s efforts to increase divisions and foster hatred of minorities have been quite effective in Grand Junction. Kraig Andrews, our new city councilman, openly supports our racist president, who has publicly asked why we allow people to come to the U.S. from “shithole countries,” derided women over their appearance and who long maintained a relationship with accused child trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, who is also an adjudicated sexual offender on the registry.

Mayor Rick Taggart, who succumbed to pressure from Duke Wortman to change his vote after an increasingly tense series of four tie votes.

As chair of the Mesa County Republican Party, in October of 2016, Andrews refused to condemn the statements Trump made in the Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump bragged that could sexually harass women all he wanted, and he could “grab ’em by the pussy, anything…” because he was a celebrity. In a subsequent interview broadcast on KJCT on October 9, 2016, Andrews, asked about these comments, dismissed Trump’s comments, saying he made them “…Ten years ago before he was running for office, in a private conversation. Things that he said were not the greatest, but it was 10 years ago,” Andrews said.

So no big deal, ladies. Grand Junction’s newest city councilman believes when a man brags he can “Grab ’em by the pussy,” it isn’t offensive to women, it’s just “not the greatest” statement a person seeking the highest office in the land could make.

Pro-Trump “Deplorables” hat

Andrews also told the media in 2016 that the Mesa County Republican Party wasn’t affiliated with the Mesa County Deplorables, but that the Republican Party would respect the Deplorables group if their “events were respectful.” (NOTE: former city councilman Duncan McArthur, whom Andrews is replacing, was a member of the Mesa County Deplorables, who were, in fact, decidedly disrespectful, as their name indicates.)

Thanks to Mayor Rick Taggart, this is our new city council member — someone for whom racism, sexism, scapegoating immigrants and fostering hatred among members of our community is perfectly suitable behavior for people in public office.

Maybe Grand Junction will come out better in the next election, when City residents get to choose their own council members.

  17 comments for ““Incredibly political”: Grand Junction’s newest City Councilman selected after heavy pressure on mayor

  1. The ignorant are obsessed with belief.
    That is spiritual laziness, whether believer or nonbeliever.
    Realize nature itself.

  2. No doubt, guilt by association. That would be like asking the Satanic Temple to say prayers for impeachment, on behalf of the atheists. What do you people call that? Symbolism over substance? Or photographic proof of collusion? Russia! Russia! Russia!

    • You have to adjust your meds, AP. Atheists don’t believe in God, so there can’t be a Satan. (Not that there is one, anyway).

      • But then, I’m not the one that asked the Satanic Temple to pray for me at the city council. That was the atheists. And I know of course, that atheists believe in neither God nor the devil. Probably just an opportunity to slap people of faith. But people who believe in nothing and stand for nothing, will fall for anything.

        • Someone praying is a slap to people of faith?
          How delicate are you? Is your faith not strong? Are you not brave enough to handle someone else praying?

          Freakin’ Snowflake.

          • Oh, I understand, you don’t know that the Satanic Temple was just given tax exempt status and designated as a faith based group. Or do you just see what you want to see, hear what you want to hear, and disregard the rest? Next time you slap someone, it might be wise to know who you’re slapping.

          • The Satanic Temple is just as much a church as yours, pal. This is America.

            As for slappin’, you needn’t fear.
            Most decent people know that assault on the Elderly and Mentally Handicapped carries stiff penalties.

          • Could you have made it more clear why you felt the need to ask the Satanic Temple people to pray for you? Well, I doubt it. However, there’s no indication that it’s working for you. You might need to be more specific on what you’re asking for. I think reading comprehension would about cover it, unless of course, you suffer from less obvious debilitating malfunctions of higher priority?

          • So, the self-described “American Patriot” doesn’t believe in the First Amendment? Is Freedom of Religion only for those that follow the Judeo-Christian mythos?

          • In other words, the “brave” American Patriot won’t stand for the Constitution. I suppose it makes sense. It’s not like you had the guts to stand for it before.

          • I think your problem is, that once you expose yourself, everything else just looks like a cover up. At least the Satanic Temple people believe in something. But then you knew that. Why else would you ask them to pray for you? Unless of course, it was in expectation of a more favorable outcome, by attempting to control the content of the prayer? Perhaps you assume too much. Ya think?

          • I keep tellin’ ya, AP, I’m neither a Satanist nor an Atheist. I just believe the Constitution affords all people the same rights.

            Why don’t you?

    • There is no such thing as alcoholism. There is substance abuse only. After that, you are not using substances, and there is no disease.

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