(Promoted by Colorado Pols)
For the last eight years, Pueblo elections have been overseen by one of democracy’s fiercest advocates, Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz. Now, Ortiz is being challenged by a 28 year old plumber with no elected office experience, whose associates practice intimidation as a political tactic.
Victor Head, a plumber and activist in Pueblo Freedom and Rights , announced on January 13 that he will run against Mr. Ortiz for the office of Pueblo County Clerk in 2015. Mr. Head has no prior experience in elected office; his main claim to fame is that he was an organizer of Pueblo Freedom and Rights, which engineered the recall of Pueblo’s Senator Angela Giron last year. During the recall, Head’s organization was often accused of voter intimidation, including surrounding canvasser’s cars, videotaping voters at the polls, parking cars with large PFR signs in the parking lot outside polling places . PFR rented a storefront outside the Democratic anti-recall headquarters in order to place an overpowering 30’ by 10’ sign.
They confronted Democratic canvassers several times, and held noisy and disruptive meetings in an attempt to disrupt the anti-recall organizing.
Intimidation is still apparently Mr. Head’s go-to tactic for this election, as well.
The day after he announced, a supporter emailed Mr. Ortiz:
“Remember me? You do. How can you not remember me. You and your socialists/ Marxists Democrats in Pueblo County go ahead, try to hand pick your successor. There is a fundamental shift taking place in Pueblo County and you are not part of the equation.”
Ortiz responded: “Looks like Victor Head and his campaign volunteers will begin their campaign to unseat me with intimidation, but guess what, I won't back down!”
The personable and low-key Ortiz has never backed down from intimidation, and never hesitated to go to bat for the rights of voters
- *To vote, even if they are military, deployed overseas, and didn’t vote in the last election
- *to vote, even if they didn’t vote in the last general election (Secretary of State Gessler tried to disenfranchise 19,000 “inactive” voters in 2012
- *to vote, even if they only recently became a citizen (Gessler attempted to hunt down 10,000 “noncitizens”. Only four of these were found after four years, none voted in Pueblo.)
- *to vote, even if they recently moved , or changed their address
- *to vote, even if they are disabled and having trouble getting to the polls, as 25% of Pueblo voters are
- *to vote by mail, because it’s easier, more convenient, cheaper, and results in better turnout
- *to vote, although recall proponents tried to suppress mail in ballots by having last minute weak candidates petitioning onto the ballot
- *to vote, although recall proponents engaged him in court battles week after week, until, 10 days before the election, Ortiz secured a court victory which enabled people to vote early or by mail.
- *To vote, in a completely transparent and verifiable election. He’s opened up the voting process for complete examination.
Ortiz has extended hours, opened up opportunities for all voters to vote, regardless of party affiliation. In the most recent 2013 recall election, the pro-recall base got their people out and their ballots in. The pro-Giron, anti-recall people, for whatever reasons, did not. Ortiz’ response, via Twitter:
“Okay, am I happy about the results? No. Did I run a fair election under these incredible conditions, I think I did.”
And even the recall’s conservative backers agree that it was a “free and fair election”. In 2007, then-Secretary of State Coffman commended Ortiz for his impartiality and thoroughness in eliminating any possibility of mail ballot signature fraud. That’s a tradition Ortiz had continued in Pueblo.
That has always been the bottom line with Gilbert Ortiz; a true professional, he seeks only to empower Pueblo voters to make their wishes known by voting in elections, regardless of his personal preferences.
His statement about the upcoming election:
“My first four years in office was about bringing Pueblo into the modern era of elections and customer service. My second term has been about fighting for EVERY citizen’s right to vote. My third term will be about preserving the advances we have made together.”
Photos of Gilbert Ortiz and Victor Head appeared in The Pueblo Chieftain
Credits: John Jaques,