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Democrat Elizabeth Velasco likely winner for Colorado’s House District 57

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Eleanor Bennett
Aspen Public Radio
Democratic candidate Elizabeth Velasco, right, and volunteer canvasser Brisa Chavez, left, talk with a local voter in Rifle on Oct. 1. Republican incumbent Perry Will and Velasco have heard from voters who say the economy and inflation are top of mind.

This is story was last updated at 9:45 p.m. on Nov. 9.

As of Wednesday night, the preliminary results for Colorado’s House District 57 showed Democrat Elizabeth Velasco of Glenwood Springs winning the seat over incumbent Republican Perry Will of New Castle.

With nearly 36,000 votes counted, Velasco was ahead with about 54% of the vote to Will’s 46%, according to the Colorado Secretary of State.

Political newcomer Velasco is trained as a wildland firefighter and runs her own language-services agency in the valley.

(Her business provides translation and interpretation services to Aspen Public Radio.)

She said she’s felt the support from the community since day one running a grassroots campaign for the seat.

“We are changing what leadership looks like here in the district,” Velasco said. “And as a new American, I know that this election proves that we are ready for new leadership and western Colorado is a place where anyone can make their own American dream possible.”

In a phone interview shortly after 9:30 p.m. on election night, Velasco shared gratitude for her voters’ support.

She said she’s been reflecting on her path from collecting signatures to enter the race all the way to the general election. Now, she’s looking forward to a bit of rest.

“We’ve worked so hard,” she said.

After redistricting last year, House District 57 now encompasses Pitkin and Garfield counties as well as the portion of Eagle County in the Roaring Fork Valley and Dotsero.

Velasco was favored to win the district by 16 percentage points, according to Colorado’s nonpartisan redistricting commission.

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Kaya Williams
Aspen Public Radio
Perry Will stands in his truck after driving in Carbondale’s annual Potato Day Parade on Oct. 1. Although Carbondale and Glenwood Springs have always been a part of Will’s district, he said he’s glad to have a chance to represent the whole Roaring Fork Valley.

Will, the incumbent, has been in office for nearly four years after spending most of his career working as a game warden and state wildlife officer.

When he spoke with Aspen Public Radio around 9:45 p.m. on election night, he felt it was still too early to tell the results of the race.

He said he’s proud of the campaign he ran and will respect the electoral process however the results shake out.

“However it turns out is the way it’s supposed to — that’s democracy,” he said.

Will said he still wants to represent the district, but if the results don’t shake out in his favor, he wishes Velasco "the best of luck."

“I’m just there to serve because I want to serve," Will said. "I just want to do good things for people and the people I represent.”

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.
Kaya Williams is the Edlis Neeson Arts and Culture Reporter at Aspen Public Radio, covering the vibrant creative and cultural scene in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley. She studied journalism and history at Boston University, where she also worked for WBUR, WGBH, The Boston Globe and her beloved college newspaper, The Daily Free Press. Williams joins the team after a stint at The Aspen Times, where she reported on Snowmass Village, education, mental health, food, the ski industry, arts and culture and other general assignment stories.
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