News

Democrats advance to primary in race to represent revamped Colorado House District 57

April 12, 2022

Two Democrats will square off in the June 28 Colorado primary election for the right to challenge incumbent Republican state Rep. Perry Will in the redrawn House District 57.

Cole Buerger and Elizabeth Velasco both emerged with enough delegates from the multi-county Democratic Party assembly on Friday to advance to the primary round.

Buerger won the top spot on the ballot, earning 52.7% of the delegate votes at the assembly. 

“I am humbled by the support I received in the caucus and assembly process,” said Buerger, a Garfield County native who now lives in Glenwood Springs.

“We built a strong coalition of delegates of all stripes because we worked hard to get out and listen to the concerns of voters and learn about the issues that are top of mind for people across Garfield, Eagle, and Pitkin Counties.”

Velasco, also of Glenwood Springs, said she was excited to advance to the primary.

“I’ll continue the work of listening to our community and look forward to elevating our rural values at the state Capitol,” she said.

HD57 was redrawn during last year’s state legislative redistricting process to take in all of Garfield and Pitkin counties, and the small sliver of Eagle County in the Roaring Fork Valley.

The former district boundary took in Garfield, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties, which Will has represented since being appointed in early 2019 to replace Bob Rankin, who moved to the state Senate.

Will, from New Castle, won formal election to the seat in 2020 against Democrat Colin Wilhelm of Glenwood Springs. He is not being challenged for the Republican nomination in the lead-up to the November election.

Buerger initially filed last year to run for the 3rd Congressional District seat, but dropped out of that race to seek the state House seat instead.

“I have the experience required to represent everyone in our district,” he said. “I will show up anywhere and listen to anyone, even if we don’t agree on everything, because this race is about bringing people together to address the challenges facing HD57 and western Colorado, not about advancing ideological agendas.” Across the new district, Buerger said he’s found consensus around core issues like housing and healthcare affordability, protecting water and the environment and rebuilding infrastructure.

Velasco has been a small business owner in Eagle and Garfield counties for more than 20 years. In 2020, she helped with the public information response during the Grizzly Creek Fire and other wildfire events that summer, especially within the Latino community.

“Like so many members of our community, I’ve had to work hard to afford to keep living here,” she said. “With the rising costs of everything from housing, food, gas and insurance, our families and communities need more support than ever as we recover from the pandemic.

Velasco owns and operates an interpretation and translation business, through which she helps residents navigate medical and legal issues and works with families whose children attend public schools.

“I’ll work with our teachers, parents and kids to fight for every Western Slope child to get a world-class education and make sure every teacher is paid what they deserve and can afford to live where they teach,” she said.

The HD57 primary will be one of two big primary elections for Garfield and Pitkin county Democrats and unaffiliated voters who choose to vote in the Democratic primary. Several Democrats are vying for the nomination to run for the 3rd Congressional District seat now held by Republican Lauren Boebert of Silt.

Montrose Republican and current state Rep. Don Coram plans to petition onto the primary ballot to challenge Boebert for the Republican nomination in the 3rd District.

Unaffiliated registered voters who do not request one or the other will be sent both a Republican and Democratic primary ballot in June, but can only vote one.