Republican delegates from area counties gathered Saturday at the Dolores Community Center to nominate their candidates for Senate District 6 and House District 58.
Incumbent candidates Rep. Marc Catlin and Sen. Don Coram, both Republicans from Montrose, were easily nominated onto the primary ballot by the 88 Republican Assembly delegates. There were no challengers. Candidates must receive at least 30 percent of the delegate vote to get on the ballot. Delegates arrived from Montrose, La Plata, Montezuma, Archuleta, Dolores and San Juan counties.
“The purpose is to get our candidates onto the primary ballot, and give party delegates the chance to hear them speak,” said Dave Laursen, Republican Central Committee Chairman for Senate District 6 and House District 58.
After being nominated, both candidates gave 15 minute acceptance speeches.
“I have worked hard to make sure our rural needs get attention,” Coram said. “In Colorado, the problem is not as much Republican versus Democrat as it is the rural-urban divide.”
Coram said he is one of a handful of state legislators who have a home address that is a farm. He said the fact that the Western Slope has 15 percent of the people but 85 percent of the state’s water “puts a target on our back.” Legislation favors urban areas at the expense of rural communities, he said.
“The metropolitan Front Range wants our water, and that threatens our rivers, so I will fight for rural water interests,” Coram said.
He said water storage is needed on the Eastern Slope is prevent Colorado compact water from flowing into Nebraska, and therefore reduce demand on Western Slope water.
He said implementing the Northern Platte Integrated Supply project is needed to accommodate the state’s increasing population, and will protect Southwest Colorado water from being diverted to the Front Range.
Catlin also focused on protecting Western Slope water from being diverted through the Continental Divide. He has a farming and water management background, including 17-year career with the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association.
“He is a warrior for you on water issues,” said Coram in nominating Catlin.
Every year, 600,000 acre-feet of Colorado River Basin water is diverted to feed cities on the Front Range, Catlin reminded the crowd of about 150 people.
“Then they let 400,000 acre-feet flow out of the state to Nebraska,” Catlin said. “They can’t just keep saying they need more. We have the senior water rights.”
Catlin and Coram also supported improving internet services and protecting police horses. They co-sponsored a bill that recently passed which earmarks up to $150 million into high-speed internet for rural communities.
At the urging of Montezuma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin, Catlin, along with Coram, sponsored the Crime of Cruelty to Certified Police Working Horse bill, which was signed into law and boosts punishment for people who harm police horses from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Catlin said he is available for his constituents.
“What is important is our people. What is satisfying is taking a local problem and trying to solve it from my end, so feel free to give me a call if you need help,” he said.
Republican delegate Fred Petit, of Pleasant View, said there is support for the candidates because they understand rural, agricultural lifestyle, fight to keep local water sources, and support the Second Amendment.
In the Republican tradition, a raffle was held for a AR-15 rifle.
Republican Party Vice Chair Danny Wilkin added that the Assembly event helps candidates connect with the local people.
“It’s good that people come in from all over to visit and hear from the candidates so we can keep going in the right direction,” he said. “Our way of life, liberty and independence are at stake in these elections. Elections go to those who show up, so get out and vote.”