b y David Tesitor
WALSENBURG- The Huerfano County Republican Party held its annual Lincoln Day Dinner Saturday, May 8 where an estimated 214 people plus honored guests listened to speeches, honors and tributes. The evening was highlighted by the party honoring Siegfried Sporleder with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his many years of service to the businesses and citizens of Walsenburg and Huerfano County. Sig′s son Karl presented a power point presentation detailing his father’s lifetime of achievements. He also accepted the award on behalf of his father. When Chairman Dick Chenault announced, "Sig could not be here tonight because he is in hospice," a somber quiet filled the room. Sporleder was then honored with a standing ovation.
The evening was also highlighted by a video of Red Skelton explaining the meaning of the individual words of the Star Spangled Banner and also honor was given to the past and present members of the armed services.
The crowds were addressed by seven candidates explaining why the delegates who will be attending the state assembly May 20-22 should consider voting for them. With the Republican primary (caucus) less than two weeks away, several candidates chose not to come to Walsenburg, opting for a stronger voter base elsewhere. Those who did come were well received, and the crowd hung on their every word.
Dan Maes, a candidate for governor, gave cause why he should be elected. Maes is in favor of second amendment rights, opposed to any expansion in Pinon Canyon and is in favor of Tabor, but he went on to say that "he is opposed to any increased taxes and we need to find a way to pay for these services." Maes also said the immigration bill in Arizona was right because states need to enforce the laws already put in place by the Federal Government. The laws are there but are not enforced which is why Colorado is considered a safe haven for illegals. All the candidates agreed on one thing. If the laws are enforced, people will not be as quick to look for work here, keeping the jobs in the hands of Coloradans. His opponent, Scott McInnis, opted not to come.
In addition, Ken Buck who is running for the U.S. Senate, supports the property rights of the individual and is strongly opposed to the Army′s plans for expansion. As far as amendments 60, 61 and 101, Buck is opposed because he is in favor of taxes to pay for services, but feels citizens pay too much in taxes and spending must be reduced.
J.J. Ament was one of two candidates running for the Treasurer’s office. He was quick to point out that he is the first candidate to run for that office in 40 years who actually holds a degree in finance. Ament has a private consulting firm which works with the budgets of several state entities and government agencies. His opponent, Ali Hasan, chose not to come to the dinner.
Bob McConnell is a combat veteran who is running to unseat John Salazar in the 3rd Congressional District. McConnell is a staunch second amendment supporter and is opposed to Pinon Canon expansion. He said, "I′ve been in combat and the army does not need any more land to train." He believes tax reform is needed. Lisa Grace Kellogg who is running for the 64th district against incumbent Wes McKinley, states she will fight for rights of the business owners.
Two candidates are running for the seat which will be vacated by term-limited Senator Ken Kester. Both have similar views on taxes and Pinon Canyon expansion, and they vowed to work with one another, no matter the outcome.
The evening festivities concluded with an address by Mike Kellogg, who spoke about his days as a professional football player and gave some humorous anecdotes.