Democrat offers D-3 challenge
If John Morris were to defeat Sallie Clark for county commissioner in November, he would be the first Democrat to register such a success in El Paso County in 40 years.
But the retired schoolteacher thinks it's high time. In an interview this week, he said he believes the county would benefit from a “progressive” voice that would push government to take more of a “leading role” than it does under Republican control. “Too often the mantra is to let the marketplace decide,” he said. But a marketplace lacking sufficient regulation reflects poor planning, and that can be a drag on the economy, he asserted.
Clark, a two-term incumbent, defeated Karen Magistrelli in the Republican Primary June 26. Morris had no opposition for his seat. In fact, his party had not planned to put up a candidate; “I came on as the result of a vacancy committee,” he said. “I did not want this to go unchallenged.”
He said his main motivation was not so much a belief that Clark has mishandled major issues, but “my anger at particular things.”
One of these is what he terms “voter supression” by the Republican Party. He thinks it's wrong to take registered voters off the list that's automatically mailed ballots if they fail to vote in a non-general election. That especially hurts voters who are registered Democrat because, he candidly admitted, “Democrats tend to be lazy” and not vote in non-general elections. He's also displeased by Republican desires for voters to have photo IDs, which he thinks has constitutional implications.
Morris shares a concern with Clark's Primary foe. He too was unhappy with the 2010 ballot issue that allowed Clark to become eligible for a third term as commissioner. She has defended the action as above board, but he described it as “a manipulation process that was obviously self-serving.”
Morris grew up in Denver, moving to this area when he attended Colorado College. He graduated summa cum laude in 1969. “I've lived in the downtown or on the Westside ever since,” he noted. He went on to teach 27 years in District 11.
After retiring in 2000, he served as the Democratic Party chair from 2005 to '09; he also worked with former State Representative Michael Merrifield on his campaigns.
One point of view Morris shares with Clark is an expressed wish to put campaigning aside while the Waldo Canyon Fire is in crisis mode. “Democrats and Republicans are losing houses up there,” he said. “It has nothing to do with politics.”
Westside Pioneer article