Ditch the caucus, open the vote

To the editor, 

It’s time to have a primary election in Colorado instead of a caucus.

Caucusing at Needham this year was lively. And packed. Three rooms held a variety of neighbors: college students and 40-year-olds attending their first caucus, devout Democrats, new Democrats, young parents and retired couples.

And though the rooms were filled to the brim, many were absent. We missed seeing students who needed to work, military personnel overseas and parents who couldn’t find a babysitter.  

Caucuses were designed as a grassroots entryway into the election. Folks sat at tables in a school gym or church hall, hashed out their differences about candidates, then voted on their preference. Many attendees had not heard much about the candidates before that evening, so happily absorbed ideas presented before making their choice.  

But much has changed. Social media gives people easy access to more information. They have held their political discussions and friendly debates many times before caucus night, arriving at the site armed with opinion, ready to vote.  

In 2014, Colorado embarked on a statewide mail-in ballot initiative. For many, it was a godsend, for they didn’t have to take off work, call a babysitter, or find a ride to the polling place. Pondering was done at the kitchen table with family, friends, or in total silence. The only constraint was delivering the ballot within the voting window of time.

What if, during at least presidential elections, Colorado had a primary instead of a caucus, giving everyone a voice in the election? Money spent on June primaries could be used in the March primary; taxpayers would incur no further expense. All voices could be heard, Colorado would have a say in the presidential election, and national attention could focus on Western issues, such as water and transportation.

Any process that includes more voters than it excludes, encourages participation and gives Colorado a strong presence in the election should be considered. Primaries allow more Coloradoans to have their voices heard in a vital part of our political process.

– Barbara McLachlan, candidate for HD 59, Durango

Champagne brings experience

To the editor,

I’ve worked closely with the DA’s office since 2009 as a restorative justice facilitator and mediator and have had the privilege to witness the solid and consistent manner in which Christian Champagne approaches and applies restorative justice in conjunction with the law and in appropriate cases. Over this time, he has never wavered in his balanced and careful consideration of each case as well as the parties involved.

Additionally, I sit on two local committees with Mr. Champagne, including the Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee and DUI Recovery Court. Both address and explore solutions to challenges our communities face and includes a variety of agencies and individuals. His input during these meetings reflects his commitment to the long-term health of our community as well as strengthening the criminal justice system in the 6th Judicial District. It is evident that Mr. Champagne garners the respect of his colleagues and peers in all areas of the judicial system.

I’m honored to support Mr. Champagne to become our next district attorney and encourage my community members to do the same.

– Janine Balenti, Durango

Hug an emergency dispatcher

To the editor,

For a recent “homework” assignment for Leadership La Plata, I did a “sit in” with one of the dispatchers for the Durango / La Plata Emergency Communications Center. The Center dispatches for the following agencies: Animal Protection, Bayfield Marshall, Durango Fire and Rescue Authority, Durango Police Department, Fort Lewis College Police, Fort Lewis Mesa Fire Protection District, La Plata County Sheriff and the Upper Pine River Fire Protection District. It is directed by Phil Campbell. This letter pays tribute to the people that keep La Plata County agencies in constant communication for our safety.

It was a midweek, midday shift – I assumed it would be quiet – wrong! Three of the four consoles were running, each console has six screens and technology requiring all four human limbs, both ears and a multi-tasking brain beyond compare. The action was intense and constant, to mention a few issues: an injured cat, report from a neighbor concerned about reaching an invalid neighbor, loitering/panhandling report, restraining order infringement, credit card fraud and to top it off, a teenager who was running from danger – later to be assisted by an officer thanks to the dispatcher.

I share the experience out of amazement and gratitude. At one point all three dispatchers were fully engaged; one sneezed – another one, with a third ear in the back of her head, stopped for a split second and said, “bless you!” Well ... I say, bless them all!

– Kathleen Adams, Durango

Cut the cheese this Mother’s Day

To the editor,

This Mother’s Day, May 8, many of us will celebrate the powerful bond between mother and child. Tragically, the world-wide symbols of motherhood – dairy cows – never get to see or nurture their babies.

Newborn calves are torn from their mothers at birth, so we can seize and drink the milk that mother cows produce for them. The powerless, distraught mothers bellow for days, hoping in vain for their babies’ return. The babies are kept alive elsewhere, to soon become veal cutlets. 

Dairy cows spend their lives on a concrete floor, chained, with no outdoor access. To maintain their milk flow, they are artificially impregnated each year. Around four years of age, their milk production drops and they are turned into hamburgers.

This Sunday, let’s honor motherhood and our natural compassion by refusing to subsidize cruelties of the dairy industry. Let’s replace cow’s milk and its products, laden with fat and cholesterol, with delicious, healthful, cruelty-free nut or soy-based milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream offered in every grocery store. Mother cows and our own bodies will thank us.

– Diego Horvath, Durango