UPDATE: The story of how Sal Pace outed Tom Ready as a conspiracy nut, who believes that the Sandy Hook school shootings never happened, has gone national, but you saw it here first. Here is a link to video I took of Pace and Ready's remarks, with apologies for the poor quality.
The professional-quality video will be aired by Comcast Channel 19 Community Access TV according to this schedule, starting September 22. If you were smart enough to have thought of recording it, you've got it. But you won't have the priceless audience reactions.
The Commissioner debate began at 6:00 pm.
Steve Henson of Chieftain, moderator, says that there will be no questions from the audience. Only those previously submitted by readers of the Chieftain or Action22 will be asked of the candidates.
No heckling. It is not a rule he enforces against the Ready and Head supporters, who boo, catcall, etc. , pretty much unchallenged, as you will hear and see from the video.
The County Commissioner debate, between incumbent Commisioner Sal Pace, and Republican challenger Tom Ready, was a very wonky and respectful debate, discussing tax policy, land use, water regulations, jobs and economic development. Sal Pace gave himself some well-deserved props for progress on the Southwest Chief proposal, and a new arts initiative in Pueblo. Ready declined to go after Sal Pace about Pueblo's current County Commissioner email "scandal", for which one Commissioner was fired. This reticence on Ready's part surprised me – but Sal Pace had nothing to do with the emails, so perhaps that explains it.
It was all good – up until the point when Tom went off the rails. He started off by accusing Sal Pace of personally raising utility rates on Pueblo Customers. Sal Pace was a party to the unfortunate agreement that ensconced Black Hills Energy as the town's monopoly customer-gouger, but didn't actually personally throw the switch. Then Tom went into why coal is cleaner than natural gas, and it kind of went south from there. Sal, appropriately, responded that if Tom wanted to get negative, how about those Facebook posts about how Newtown shootings were a hoax?
Tom Ready is a genuine right wing extremist. When I was researching him yesterday, I ran across his writings about how Sharia law was encroaching and had to be fought back. I didn't see the Newtown post, but he sure vigorously defended his belief in it in front of the debate audience. This makes Ready a Newtown Hoax "Truther" . Their central belief is that 20 kindergartners didn't die in Newtown – it was all a hoax to promote restrictive gun laws.
Tom Ready has many postings on his Facebook timeline from a local group called the American Christian Patriot Association, which has all kinds of lovely ideas about immigrants, Michelle Obama, gay rights, Benghazi – you know the drill. I took screen shots of much of it, in case it gets scrubbed like the Newtown and Sharia posts. So much for Mr. Ready contributing some "balance" to the County Commission.
The audience, by the way, after an initial stunned silence, booed Ready roundly – even those who enthusiastically cheered anything either Republican candidate said.. Ready got no love for the "Newtown might be a hoax" stuff. It looks like Pueblo may be making national news again. And we wonder why every insane idea in Colorado is credited to "Someone from Pueblo."
County Clerk and Recorder Candidates: Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz (D) vs. Victor Head (R)
The Clerk debate began at .7:00 pm.
Bo opening remarks: Thanks to family, Action22. Honor to have served you as County Clerk and Councilman for the past 10 years. Reminds people that he also has a role as archivist ( the Recorder part of the job) – every public document (marriage, birth, death, property deeds, etc) must be archived and kept from deterioration. Then there is the Motor Vehicle Department part of the Clerk & Recorder job. But the most sacred part of the job is to preserve the right to vote. Ensure accessibility for all citizens of whatever political affiliation. Open, honest, verified elections.
7:04: Victor Head. Born and raised in Pueblo, dad ill with cancer, came back to Pueblo to take care of the family business. Then the recall happened. (wild applause). "I saw rights threatened, someone needed to be a voice for Pueblo in a non-partisan way." I have no political ties. ?? I am a “clean slate”. My political experience has been running the recall. I'm not a career politician, clean slate. Bla bla
Discussion of civil marriage licenses:
Question from the chieftain clerks role in issuing same sex marriage licenses. Bo explained why he issued them (Colorado’s ban against same-sex marriage had been found unconstitutional by a Federal court) and why he stopped issuing them (threatened w legal action by AG Suthers, so not worth putting Pueblo through expense and hassle)
Victor is very confused. Thinks that this is a “posse comitatus” situation where you have federal overreach over local control. Bizarre. Bo calls him on it. “My opponent is confused”. I didn't get this particular exchange on video (technical difficulties)
Gypsy Voters AGAIN
Victor: OMG the Gypsy voters are coming! Still putting out the idea that someone can come in from out of town, register, and vote the same day with no consequences. This is not the law. There shall be no gypsy votercalypse. Just sleazy old Jon Caldara, who has the attorneys on call to get him out of any election fraud charges.
Discussion of Motor vehicle Department problems:
Victor Head promotes several ideas that he thinks will streamline the Motor Vehicle Department, most of which are prohibitively expensive (particularly since he doesn’t want to raise taxes or fees), or have already been implemented (online vehicle registration).
Victor accuses of partisanship in motor vehicle customer service. Says that “Some people” are discriminated against with license renewals, implies that this is partisan.
Bo says to Victor that he just insulted all the motor vehicle people, in the office, so if he does get elected, good luck working with that crew. “Last I heard, you don’t have to wear a D or an R on your shirt to renew your license”.
Pueblo County is in the 98th percentile of efficient motor vehicle departments, with very few errors or corrections.
Victor no no I’m not doubting them. I’m doubting the leadership. Etc
I thought I saw some puffs of steam around Bo's head at that point, but he kept his cool, and rebutted Victor's claim with more facts and evidence about the efficiency of the Pueblo MVD. Then the debate was over except for closing statements.
So basically, Victor Head just trotted out his usual lies – there is rampant voter fraud, only he can cure it with his “clean slate”, he has ideas to fix any problems at the MVD, because they’re all a bunch of partisan Democrats who hate your guns.
Bo Ortiz handily shot all of Victor’s evidence-free claims of fraud, partisanship, and incompetence down with numbers, facts, and common sense.
Beyond partisan labels, voters watching these debates see a clear choice between candidates who distort the truth and make unproven claims, and those who are based in the real, fact-based world. As it happens, for these two races, the realists are Democrats.