Friday, March 12, 2010

A Myriad of Options to Gain Access to the Ballot---Excluding One.

It appears that not many people fully understand the options that were afforded to me to gain access to the ballot once I had disaffilated from the Democratic Party.

As stated in the federal lawsuit that has been filed, I had a myriad of options to gain access to the ballot.  Let me reiterate that in a different way:  If I was soley concerned with my own re-election bid I would have chosen a different path, I would have joined a party and become their candidate. 

The only problem (or solution as I prefer) is, I don't want to be a member of any party.  I want to be able to utilize as many ideas and varieties of options as possible, from various sources---including, but not limited to one party or another.  It's that issue "ownership, absolute thing" that parties assert that makes me a little crazy and frankly is harming our process.  In my opinion it would have been more of the same had I joined a party, not to mention highly hypocritical and yes, self-serving.  I want to be a different kind of politician and that requires doing things differently.

I could have gone back to the Democratic Party, joined the Republican, Libertarian, Constitution, or Green Party all within their alloted time frames as prescribed by their party bylaws.  And, I could have formed my own party.  It's again worth mentioning that they have the ability to change those bylaws to accomodate candidates whom they wish to run.  That was decided in the 1988 Court Case.  Apparently there was no one that voiced the inequity that was being decided upon at the time for independent or unaffiliated candidates (and voters of all affiliation)---that is, until now.

County Didn't Need to Spend Money Defending Lawsuit.

Here are a couple of great Letters to the Editor in response to this one in the Durango Herald.  Both of those pasted below appeared subsequently in the paper as well. 


Riddle's lawsuit need not cost county

by Bill Zimsky

I am Joelle Riddle's attorney and am writing to respond to the letter to the editor (Herald, Feb. 28) criticizing Commissioner Riddle's decision to mount a constitutional challenge to the state statutory scheme that allows political parties to set their own affiliation deadlines for their candidates, but imposes the most restrictive deadline in the country - 17 months before the general election - on unaffiliated candidates.

The letter writers suggest that Riddle is hypocritical when she advocates fiscal responsibility while causing the county to spend thousands of dollars to defend against her lawsuit. These charges are vacuous because the county is under no obligation to spend one dime of the taxpayers' money to defend the lawsuit. If the county chose not to defend the lawsuit, the federal judge nonetheless would undertake a thorough and vigorous legal analysis of Riddle's arguments and come to a reasoned determination on the merits of Riddle's case. (If you think a federal judge is not going to closely examine a constitutional challenge to a state statute even if the defendant does not participate in the case, then I have a bridge to nowhere to sell you.) A great example of this course of action occurred in 1988 when the Democratic Party sued the secretary of state challenging a statute that imposed an affiliation deadline on political party candidates. The secretary of state chose not to defend the lawsuit. The judge nonetheless carefully considered the merits of the lawsuit and ruled that the state of Colorado cannot impose any type of affiliation restriction on political parties.

Obviously, the letter writers disagree with Riddle's political positions. The proper way to voice their displeasure is through the ballot box, not by making false accusations cloaked in manufactured outrage. The answer, as epitomized by Riddle's lawsuit, is more democracy, not less. America would not be the greatest country ever if its citizens followed the advice of the letter writers and docilely allowed the government to enforce laws that violate the Constitution.

Bill Zimsky, Durango


County chose to spend money on lawsuit

by Andrew Dougherty

A small faction of La Plata County Democrats decided to use the Herald's Opinion section (Feb. 28) as a platform for their petty partisan battle with Commissioner Joelle Riddle, who left the Democratic Party last year and now is unaffiliated.

They are angry Riddle thinks for herself, studies issues and votes in the best interest of all residents of La Plata County, instead of kowtowing to party leadership. They call her current lawsuit to overturn inequity in election law as “self-serving" and ask us to be outraged that the county is spending thousands of dollars to defend the lawsuit.

The county chose to defend the lawsuit. Let me repeat: That money did not have to be expended. Perhaps voters should ask commissioners Wally White and Kellie Hotter and County Clerk Linda Daly why they decided to pursue the lawsuit. What does La Plata County have to gain in not having a more equitable system for independents to gain ballot access?

An editorial in The Denver Post recently stated: “Restrictions should be the same for all groups, whether they be major players or the growing number of people who feel disenfranchised and are choosing to eschew political parties altogether."

More than 40 percent of Americans are unaffiliated voters because they feel disenfranchised from the two major political parties and are sick and tired of partisan politics. The crafters of the letter against Riddle in the Feb. 28 paper provide a perfect example of how the parties are failing us - by ignoring real issues and instead confusing and inciting the electorate with personal grudges.

Andrew Dougherty, Durango

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Beating the party drum for years...factually, no.

A letter to the editor appeared in today's Durango Herald, among other things it talks about my years of fidelity to the Democratic Party. To set the record straight, I first registered as an unaffiliated or indpendent voter in 2000. Yep, that's right 2000---just 10 years ago. I changed my affiliation to Democrat in 2004 and was immediately taken into the fold and christened as the "Young Democrat" on the La Plata County Democratic Executive Committee for a few months prior to becoming Party Chair that same year. It turned out to be a big election year for Democrats and I worked hard with my new-found passion for the democratic process---that's democratic with a small "d".

Interestingly enough, no one asked me how long I had been registered as a Democrat prior to offering me these leadership positions---in other words, there was no "waiting period"or "affiliation period" that I needed to comply with in order to serve the party as a young Democrat or party chair. It all happened quickly and enthusiastically for the most part.

The author comments: "Riddle is a former party chairwoman who beat the Democratic drum for years. Party chairpeople don't suddenly jump ship. At least no ones who hold dear the core values of their respective parties. Riddle jumped ship because she lost the support of her Democratic base, for whatever reason, and found herself floating toward an uncertain re-election campaign." 

Very untrue. 

I have made and continue to make decisions regardless of what it may or may not mean to my re-election campaign (I haven't even announced my candidacy).  I knew when I made the decision to disaffiliate that I was taking a huge step, if I was solely concerned with my re-election success I would have stayed with the party.  That's what most elected officials do.

After all, I had been reassured by a couple of members on the La Plata County Executive Committee that there would be no primary.  A clear message that in their mind it was better to keep the seat Democrat rather than risk the chance that they might loose it to a Repbulican.  Even with the sure odds of being an incumbent, supported by the party with the largest percentage of registered voters, I still chose and would choose this day to do what I did and become an independent.

The lawsuit is about me---and you, and our county, our state and our nation.  Anyone who thinks otherwise is paralyzed by a two-party system that doesn't want equal access to the ballot by candidates or voters.

So, in answer to the letter to the editor and the author's question:  "Is it really about the First Amendment and "fariness" as she puts it?"  She says yes!