Jefferson County party candidates for primary ballot selected in assemblies altered by COVID-19

Szabo and Inman will face Kraft-Tharp and Kerr in County Commissioner’s races

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Editor's note: The initial version of this story that ran in print contained numerous name misspellings. We deeply apologize for the errors. 

One of the local milestones of any major election year was set to take place on March 26 with Republican party loyalists meeting at the School of Mines’ Green Center in Golden to vote on which candidates for various county and state offices to send to the primary ballot.

But then came COVID-19, which forced the party to transition from the physical gathering to a first of its kind digital with candidates making their case via Zoom and votes being placed digitally.

Denise Mund, the chair of the Jefferson County Republicans, said that the process went “fine” overall, but there were some challenges related to technology.

“From our caucus data we know that the average of our caucus attendee was 62,” said Mund. “And so we had technology issues with some of our older attendees that are not as familiar with the technology.”

Attendees also missed the typical assembly experience of “being together and being able to catch up with people and that kind of thing.”

But despite the less than ideal conditions, the five-hour assembly process ended with a finalized ballot for Jeffco’s state senate and house races as well as those for district attorney and county commissioner.

The party’s candidates for the latter will be incumbent Libby Szabo for the district one commissioner’s seat and Golden resident Joni Inman for the district two seat.

Szabo touted her experience on the board and in local government.

In this current situation, we need leadership and experience plus the relationships that will bring the county to the next level," she said. "I will be the only commissioner with more than a few years of experience and that experience is vital in Jeffco because if you do not have an experienced leader, the staff ends up running the county and not leadership elected by the citizens."

District two candidate Frank Hutfless fell short of making the ballot when he received only 12 percent of the vote at the assembly.

“I am looking at the very serious position we are in right now in the county and I think it’s going to take experience that understands management,” Inman said of her candidacy. “I have years of experience in both managing local government as well as private sector of businesses.”

In November, Szabo will be running against Democrat Tracy Kraft-Tharp, the current Colorado House District 29 representative. Kraft-Tharp and other Democratic candidates were selected for the ballot during a mail assembly that occurred at the end of March. Jefferson County Democratic Party chair Susan Glass could not be reached to discuss the details of that process.

“I am passionate about creating practical pathways to improve the lives of individuals and their families,” Kraft-Tharp said.

Inman, meanwhile, will face former state senator and representative Andy Kerr of Lakewood.

Challenging times like this require proven leadership from our elected officials,” Kerr said. “The people I’ve been talking to have let me know public and mental health, affordable housing and open space and these are the issues I plan to focus on for the campaign.”

Here is a look at the other races ahead of the primary (most races are now finalized with one candidate from each party on the primary ballot):

In Senate District 19, Democrat Rachel Zenzinger will face Republican Lynn Gerber.

In House District 22, Mary Parker will be the Democrat’s candidate. However, Republicans still need to choose between incumbent Colin Larson, who petitioned onto the ballot, and Justin Everett, who made the ballot out of the assembly. 

In House District 23, Republican Fred Clifford will face incumbent Democrat Chris Kennedy.

In House District 24, incumbent Democrat Monica Duran will face Republican Laurel Imer.

In House District 25, Republican and former Jefferson County Commissioner Don Rosier will face incumbent Democrat Lisa Cutter.

In House District 27, Republican Vicki Pyne will face incumbent Democrat Brianna Titone.

In House District 28, incumbent Democrat Kerry Tipper will face Republican MJ Paulsen.

In House District 29, Republican Vanessa Warren-DeMott will face Democrat Lindsay Daugherty.

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