WITH Labor Day Weekend in the rearview mirror, it’s full steam ahead to the midterm general election on Nov. 8. To help you get into the voting frame of mind, here’s an at-a-glance look at the upcoming election and some of the prominent races voters across the six-county San Luis Valley will find on their ballots. County Clerks will begin mailing ballots Oct. 17.

There’s plenty of time to register to vote and to get to know the candidates and issues on the ballot. Alamosa Citizen will provide ongoing coverage through election day through podcast candidate roundtables, candidate profiles and candidate questionnaires. We hope you’ll follow along.

Marquee Matchups

Third Congressional

Colorado Congressional District 3 finds incumbent Congresswoman Lauren Boebert seeking a second two-year term in office representing not only the San Luis Valley but the sprawling –  and we mean sprawling – Third Congressional District of Colorado and its 26 counties. Boebert, aligned tightly to the MAGA wing of the Republican Party and from Rifle, faces Adam Frisch, a surprise winner in the Democratic primary and a resident of Aspen.

The eyes of the nation are on this race to see if Frisch can defeat Boebert. Her first two years in Congress have been noteworthy not for any legislative efforts on behalf of Third Congressional District constituents, but for her national profile as a symbol of MAGA and her devotion to former President Donald Trump.

The two candidates are scheduled for a virtual debate hosted by the League of Women Voters Colorado Chapter on Oct. 12. The virtual forum will be from 6-7 p.m. (MDT) and will be accessible via Zoom or Facebook. Here is a link to the League of Women Voters information site.

Last go-round, Boebert won the seat with 51.27 percent of the vote over Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush. Since then Colorado has redrawn all of its congressional district maps based on the 2020 Census; there are currently 26 counties in the district. Those counties are, starting from the north: Moffat, Rio Blanco, Garfield, Pitkin, Mesa, Delta, Gunnison, Montrose, Ouray, San Miguel, Hindsdale, Dolores, San Juan, Montezuma, La Plata, Archuleta, Saguache, Rio Grande, Mineral, Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Huerfano, Pueblo, Otero, Las Animas.

The last time the San Luis Valley had a horse in the race was in 2010 when then-Congressman John Salazar lost his re-election bid to Scott Tipton. Salazar served three terms in Congress and is the last Democrat to hold the seat. Frisch will try to change that in November against a candidate who is highly popular in the MAGA world of Republican politics, but less so among non-MAGA Republicans.

Says here the race gets decided by independents and non-MAGA Republicans. A motivated Democratic base that greatly enhances its voter turnout would also be a game-changer.

House District 62

The race to replace Rep. Donald Valdez in the state House features Carol Riggenbach (R), and Matthew Martinez (D). Both candidates addressed a questionnaire from Alamosa Citizen following their primary wins that you might find helpful as you get to know them. The Citizen will host two podcast forums with the candidates on Sept. 19 and Oct. 3 to help us all get to know them better. The podcasts will be roundtable discussions on topics of interest to the San Luis Valley and the state House District as a whole. Each Colorado House District 62 podcast will be available the day of the recording and will remain available through the election for voters to listen to at their convenience.

The counties represented by House District 62 are Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Rio Grande, Mineral, Saguache, Huerfano and parts of Pueblo.

12th Judicial District Attorney

San Luis Valley voters for the second time in two years will be asked to select a district attorney for the 12th Judicial District. This go-round the candidates are newly-appointed DA Anne Kelly and former DA Robert Willett. Kelly, a Republican, recently was appointed DA by Gov. Jared Polis following a state attorney general investigation into complaints against then-DA Alonzo Payne who was elected in 2020.

Willett lost to Payne in the 2020 Democratic primary and then faced an investigation by Payne into Willett’s time as DA that resulted in a single count of embezzlement filed by Payne but ultimately dismissed in court after another prosecutor reviewed the case and didn’t find merit.

Willett now takes another shot at re-gaining the DA seat when he faces Kelly on the ballot in November.

Other local races:

The local ballots county-by-county are mostly non-contested. Alamosa County had a contested race for Alamosa County Clerk and Recorder until Nicole Jaramillo dropped out following the primary election. Mari Felix, the Republican candidate for office, was then sworn in and since the Alamosa County Democratic Party failed to put up another candidate, Felix will run uncontested in November.

Here are the few contested local races in the Valley:

  • Conejos County – Race for sheriff features Martin Maes (D) against Garth Crowther (R). Crowther is the incumbent sheriff.
  • Saguache County – County Commissioner District 3 has Liza Marron (D) facing Jeff Phillips (R).
  • Mineral County – Sheriff race has Fred Hosselkus (D) against Terry Wetherall (R); County Assessor race pits Stasha Birdsey (D) against Libby Lamb (R).

State office races:

There’s a lot more to the state ballot than the local county ballots, but it’s unclear at this point on how competitive those races are. Voters will decide races for governor, state attorney general, secretary of state, state treasurer, and one U.S. senator seat. We’ll round up more information on all the candidates and track these races in the coming weeks.

All the incumbents in these races are on the ballot: Gov. Jared Polis is seeking re-election against Republican Heidi Ganahl; Attorney General Phil Weiser is facing Republican challenger John Kellner; Secretary of State Jena Griswold faces Republican Pam Anderson; and State Treasure Dave Young is up against Republican challenger Land Sais.

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet faces a re-election bid against Republican challenger Joe O’Dea. Early polling before Labor Day was mixed on whether this race is competitive. The balance of power in Congress is the overall national storyline, and if polling in the fall shows a tight race, this one will also show up on the national radar.

Ballot Initiatives, so far

Right now there are six citizen initiatives and three constitutional amendments referred by the Colorado Legislature on the November ballot. The citizen initiatives include decriminalizing certain psychedelics and reducing the state income tax rate to 4.40 percent from 4.55 percent. Also making the ballot is a question on whether to allow grocery stores to sell wine and host wine tastings, and a question on allowing licensed retail establishments – aka bars and restaurants – to sell alcohol for off-site consumption.

small voter registration booth set up at farmers market

Key election dates coming up

  • Sept. 24: First day a county clerk may begin issuing a mail ballot for the 2022 General Election to any eligible elector who requests one in person at the county clerk’s office. (No sooner than 45 days before election.)
  • Oct. 7: County clerk must begin issuing mail ballots for the 2022 General Election to any eligible elector who requests one in person at the county clerk’s office. (No later than 32 days before election.)
  • Oct. 17: First day that mail ballots for the 2022 General Election may be mailed to voters, except for UOCAVA voters. (Not sooner than 22 days before the election or the previous business day if the 22 day before the election falls on a state or federal holiday.)
  • Oct. 17: Last day to submit an application to register to vote in the 2022 General Election through a voter registration drive. (No later than 22 days before the election or the following business day if the deadline falls on a state or federal holiday.)
  • Oct. 24: Counting of mail ballots may begin. No results may be disclosed until after 7 p.m. on Election Day. (Beginning 15 days prior to the election.)
  • Oct. 24 to Nov. 8: County Drop Boxes must be open to accept mail ballots for the 2022 General Election. (15 days preceding the date of the general election and continuing to election day.)
  • Oct. 31: Last day to submit an application to register to vote through the mail, a voter registration agency, a local driver’s license examination facility, or online to receive a mail ballot for the 2022 General Election. (Through the 8th day prior to the election.)
  • Nov. 1: If the county clerk receives a voter registration application within the 8 days before the 2022 General Election, the clerk must process the application and inform the applicant that they will not receive a mail ballot. To receive a ballot, the applicant must visit a Voter Service and Polling Center.
  • Nov. 8: General Election (Polls open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
  • Nov. 8: ​​All ballots must be in the hands of the county clerk by 7 p.m. on election day in order to be counted. Ballots cast by military and overseas voters must be sent no later than 7 p.m. on election day and received by the close of business on the 8th day after the election.
  • Nov. 16: Last day for ballots cast by military and overseas electors to be received by the county clerk in order to be counted in the 2022 General Election. (No later than the 8th day after election day.)
  • Nov. 18: Last day for the county clerk to complete verification and counting of provisional ballots for the 2022 General Election. (Within 9 days after the election.)
  • Nov. 18: County must finish tabulating all in-person and accepted mail ballots cast by voters registered in the county for the November 8 General Election. Immediately after completing this tabulation, the county must also generate a summary results report, a results file export suitable for uploading to the Secretary of State’s ENR system, and a CVR export. (Complete by 10th day after election day.) 
  • Voter registration FAQ: https://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/FAQs/VoterRegistrationFAQ.html

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