Westside politickin': Merrifield walks precincts; Clark gains Bensberg endorsement

       State Representative Michael Merrifield, whose District 18 covers much of the Westside, was joined by four Democrat state representatives and a few dozen volunteers in walking Westside precincts July 17.
       The legislators on hand were Dorothy Butcher of Pueblo, Val Vigil of Thornton and Andrew Romanoff and Joel Judd of Denver.
       Starting from Bancroft Park, the volunteers planned to cover six precincts, going to the homes of registered Democrats and unaffiliated voters, according to local Democrat Party spokesman John Morris.
       Merrifield will be seeking re-election against Repub-lican Kent Lambert in the November election.
      
       Looking back on the 2004 session of the Colorado Legislature, Merrifield said he co-sponsored the bill that lowered the standard for driving under the influence of alcohol from .1 percent blood-alcohol content to .08. He said this law “has been proven to save lives in other states.” The passage also unlocked up to $50 million in federal highway funds that would have been denied if the law had not passed, Merrifield noted.
       He also noted Statehouse passage of $3.4 million for tourism promotion funding, adding that a killed bill of his would have provided $17 million for such funding by redirecting a percentage of the vendor fee.
       The vendor fee is the percent of the sales tax that states, municipalities and counties return to businesses for collecting the sales tax. Merrifield said he got the idea for his bill from an action several years ago by the Manitou Springs City Council to direct a share of the town's vendor fee to the Chamber of Commerce to promote Manitou.
       His bill, if passed, “would have raised about $17-19 million,” he said. “I had a Republican co-sponsor!”
       He termed the successful bill for in-state college vouchers a “mixed blessing” because it “frees schools from ridiculous revenue restrictions im-posed by TABOR,” but at the same time the $1,200 available to each student attending state colleges or universities “shrinks the pool of money going to public higher education.”
       The TABOR work-around was possible because if less than 10 percent of a university's income comes from the state, it is exempt from TABOR restrictions. Currently, only the CU system would qualify, Merrifield said. “By saying that the money now comes from the students, not the state, they get around the TABOR restriction,” he said.
      
       District 3 county commissioner candidate Sallie Clark has received the endorsement of current District 5 Commissioner Jim Bensberg.
       “I am certain that Sallie Clark will bring not only experience, but a spark of energy to the board. I look forward to working with her,” Bensberg said in a prepared statement.
      
       In her campaign leading up to the Aug. 10 primary, Clark plans to attend a Republican function at the Powers Ranch, 5 Marksheffel Road, Saturday, July 24, which will also be attended by both district attorney candidates (Dan May and John Newsome). The event will be from 3 to 5 p.m.
      
       It was stated in this column last week that the Democrats do not have a candidate for County Commissioner District 3 (which includes the Westside). It turns out this statement was in error. Thomas McElroy's name will appear on the Democratic ballot in the Aug. 10 Primary Election, although he has not run a visible campaign to date.
       As reported in a previous Westside Pioneer, McElroy had volunteered to run (and was approved with the necessary plurality) at the Democrat County Assem-bly in April, but for two months he did not file the necessary affadavit with the County Election Depart-ment to allow votes for him to be counted. This inactivity changed June 28, when he came forward with the affadavit, an Election Office spokesperson said this week. A July 19 filing of McElroy's states that he is receiving no contributions nor making any expenditures for his candidacy.
      
       On the Republican side of the District 3 commissioner's race, Clark and Jack Gloriod, having both received campaign contributions and made expenditures, have filed that preliminary information with the county (as required by law). Filing July 16, the Gloriod campaign shows total contributions of $69,670.67, County Elec-tion Department records show. Expenditures through that date were $67,067.29.
       The Clark campaign documents, filed July 20, shows $45,517.21 in contributions and $34,915.45 in expenditures. The contributions include a $4,149.41 transfer from funds remaining from her 2002 campaign for mayor.
      
       Like some election information? Call the County Election Department at 575-8683, or go to the department's web site at http://car.elpasoco.com/eleelections.asp.

Attention, Westside candidates! Are you making any campaign appearances, walking districts, kissing babies? Please let us know at 471-6776 or editor@westsidepioneer.com