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Primary election highlights from the Roaring Fork Valley

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Eleanor Bennett
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Aspen Public Radio
A "Vote Here" sign was posted outside of the Pitkin County building in downtown Aspen before Tuesday's primary election. Roaring Fork Valley residents voted in several contested elections, including the Pitkin County Sheriff race as well as Colorado's 3rd Congressional District and House District 57.

DiSalvo and Buglione will face off for Pitkin County Sheriff in November

Incumbent Sheriff Joe DiSalvo and former sheriff’s deputy and police officer Michael Buglione are the top vote getters in Tuesday’s primary, which means they will move forward to the general election in November.

According to unofficial results, DiSalvo got about 57% of the votes and Buglione received about 38% percent, eliminating Michael Buysse from the running.

DiSalvo is running as an independent for his fourth term as sheriff. He has been with the office for nearly four decades.

He said he was pleased with Tuesday night’s election results.

“I feel honored," he said. "You know, it always feels good when the community supports what we’re doing at the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office. And we’re going to keep doing our job, and go to November, and that’s where we’ll go from there.”

Buglione, a Democrat, was a sheriff’s deputy with Pitkin County as well as an Aspen police officer for 17 years. For the past two years and a half years, he has worked in construction management.

On election night, he said the road to sheriff was going to be an uphill climb, but he’s ready for the challenge.

“It’s going to be a grassroots campaign and I’m going to fight hard because I know I’d make a great sheriff,” he said. “Let’s get our deputies some housing and get back to the basics of community policing.”

Both candidates say they want to continue a legacy of community-based, “freak power” law enforcement first put into practice by former sheriffs Dick Kienast and Bob Braudis in the 1970s and 1980s.

According to DiSalvo, the current sheriff’s deputies strive to treat people with respect and resolve conflict peacefully, which he said has helped build trust with local residents.

“I mean, I get probably no less than five or six phone calls a week from people I know who live here asking for help,” DiSalvo said. “I think that being that available to a small community is very much the way I operate.”

If reelected in November, Disalvo said a top priority will be working with county commissioners to approve a new jail with space for mental health services.

Buglione agrees with Disalvo that increasing mental health resources is important, but he doesn’t think housing those services in a new jail is the answer.

“With the money that we save by not building a new jail, we can buy housing for our deputies, including dispatchers and jail deputies. So they can become part of the family and not live in Silt and Rifle if they don't want to,” Buglione said. “I’ll take a serious approach to the mental health crisis, eviction and homelessness in the valley.”

Both candidates for Pitkin County Sheriff will face off in the general election Nov. 8.

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Eleanor Bennett
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Aspen Public Radio
Glenwood Springs resident Elizabeth Velasco won Tuesday's Democratic primary for House District 57. The district, redrawn late last year for this election cycle, now includes all of the Roaring Fork Valley and a portion of the Colorado River Valley from Glenwood Springs to Parachute.

Elizabeth Velasco wins democratic nomination for HD57 

Glenwood Springs resident Elizabeth Velasco won the Democratic primary for the newly redrawn 57th district in the Colorado House of Representatives. She garnered nearly 64% of the vote, beating fellow Democrat and Glenwood Springs resident Cole Buerger.

“This is all really hard work that paid off and I couldn’t have done it by myself," Velasco said Tuesday night. "This took a big team and support from the community working together; it’s definitely very exciting. Thank you to Cole Buerger for running, and I look forward to working with you to make sure Colorado has a progressive champion in the state capital.”

Velasco is trained as a wildland firefighter and worked as a public information officer on the Sylvan fire near Eagle last summer. She also runs her own language-services company in the valley. By way of disclosure, her company provides translation and interpretation services to Aspen Public Radio.

Going into November, she wants to focus on issues that are important to western Coloradans.

“Like cutting the cost of living, helping working people get ahead,” Velasco said. “And as a trained wildland firefighter and small-business owner, I know how to bring people together to get big things done.”

She will face off against incumbent Republican state Rep. Perry Will of New Castle.

“We’re a majority Democratic district, so it’s about making sure that we’re expanding the electorate, that people are coming out to vote and that we’re engaging voters,” Velasco said. “I look forward to being the first Latina and immigrant to represent the Roaring Fork Valley and Colorado River Valley and certainly not the last.”

The redrawn 57th District encompasses a narrow slice of northwestern Colorado, including all of the Roaring Fork Valley, as well as a portion of the Colorado River Valley stretching from Glenwood Springs to Parachute.

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Cornerstone Christian Center
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Lauren Boebert speaks during Sunday's 10 a.m. service at Cornerstone Christian Center. (The photo is a screenshot from the church's YouTube page.)

Aspen’s Adam Frisch to face Lauren Boebert in CD3 in November

Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert of Silt defeated state Sen. Don Coram of Montrose in the primary race for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District.

Boebert won more than 65% of the votes cast in the Republican primary. In her home county of Garfield, she received 57% of the vote. Coram won in Pitkin County and the portion of Eagle County that lies within the district.

Boebert has touted her conservative bona fides throughout the primary race, accusing Coram of being a RINO, an acronym for "Republican in name only."

“I ran as a conservative, I won as a conservative and I’ll win again because I am the only conservative in this race. I have an A rating from two gun rights organizations. I have a 100% voting scorecard on the Constitution, border security, the economy and our personal liberties,” she said during a candidate forum hosted by the Colorado League of Women Voters earlier this month.

She recently garnered national attention after comments she made during a Sunday service at Cornerstone Christian Center in Basalt during which she criticized the separation of church and state.

“The church is supposed to direct the government, the government is not supposed to direct the church,” she said. “That is not how our Founding Fathers directed it, and I’m tired of this separation-of-church-and-state junk.”

At that same talk, Boebert also praised Senior Pastor Jim Tarr’s refusal to comply with Eagle County’s mask mandate during the COVID-19 pandemic, even though an outbreak of COVID at Cornerstone Christian School led to the death of a school employee. She thanked him for his “boldness.”

adam frisch in a red flannel stands in front of a sign with a photo of lauren boebert and the text boebert the betrayer
Courtesy Adam Frisch
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Adam Frisch stands with his "Boebert the Betrayer" sign outside her office in Pueblo, shortly after announcing his candidacy for the 3rd Congressional District.

On the Democratic side, Adam Frisch of Aspen defeated Sol Sandoval of Pueblo by just over 1,600 votes. The race wasn’t officially called until Wednesday morning. He received about 44% of the votes overall, but he easily won in his home county of Pitkin with more than 70% of the vote.

Frisch worked in commercial banking and served on the Aspen City Council for eight years prior to his run for office. His wife, Sarah, serves on Aspen’s school board.

On election night, Frisch said he was “honored and humbled” to have received as many votes as he did. Frisch attributed his success to his efforts to get out and meet people where they are.

“I just came back at literally 5 o’clock today, finishing up a 1,900-mile, 56-town tour," he said. "We were in communities that have probably never been visited before, or it’s been a generation. From Nucla to Dove Creek, San Luis to Rocky Ford, all the way up, obviously, to Grand Junction and Pueblo and Montrose and Durango."

Frisch says he understands skepticism about a candidate from a wealthy resort town such as Aspen. He plans to approach the general election by focusing as much as he can on issues that are important to people — regardless of political affiliation — in order to build a coalition that can beat Boebert.

“The majority of the people just want the circus to end from our current representative. They want someone that’s going to focus on their family and their business and their needs,” he said. “There are big issues out there, having to do with the lack of access to rural health care, lack of access to broadband, equality when it comes to school funding.”

More than 123,000 votes were cast in the Republican primary for CD3 — about 68,000 more than in the Democratic primary. The district is expected to lean more Republican after redistricting last year.

Eleanor is an award-winning journalist and Morning Edition anchor. Eleanor has reported on a wide range of topics in her community, including the impacts of federal immigration policies on local DACA recipients, the Valley’s COVID-19 eviction and housing crisis, and hungry goats fighting climate change across the West through targeted grazing. Connecting with people from all walks of life and creating empathic spaces for them to tell their stories fuels her work.
Caroline Llanes is a general assignment reporter at Aspen Public Radio, covering local news and City of Aspen-based issues. Previously, she was an associate producer for WBUR’s Morning Edition in Boston.