Republican lawmakers reach out to Durango
Tour aims to connect with outer reaches of state
DURANGO — The same kind of alienation from living in isolated Southwest Colorado is what is driving the secession movement in northern Colorado.
The secession movement is a “squeaky-wheel” protest to get the attention of the state government in Denver, State House Republicans said during a visit Wednesday to The Durango Herald.
“They know they’re not going to become Wyoming or Kansas or become their own state. They realize that, but (the secession movement) is their way of saying, ‘Look, we feel we’re being ignored,’” said State Rep. Brian Delgrosso, R-Loveland, the House minority leader.
Delgrosso, who does not represent any of the counties seeking secession, said he was neutral about the effectiveness of their strategy.
“I can’t really say whether they’re doing it the right way or the wrong way. For them, though, their thought process is that they don’t feel like their voice is being heard,” Delgrosso said. “I know that folks out here feel that way – that (the perception is) life only exists in the Denver metro area and a 50-mile radius around it.”
The Republican leadership of the Statehouse is on a statewide tour to reduce that alienation.
Joining Delgrosso on the tour are representatives Kathleen Conti, the Republican caucus chairwoman from Littleton; Libby Szabo, the assistant minority leader from Arvada; and Kevin Priola, the House minority whip from Adams County.
In talking about tours by political leaders, Delgrosso touched on the awkwardness of Gov. John Hickenlooper touring flooded areas that are simultaneously seeking state aid and secession.
“I know there was probably some uncomfortableness when the governor would tour,” Delgrosso said. “He went to some of the main counties where they’re standing up saying, ‘We want to leave.’”
Not that touring Colorado is so bad.
In particular, Priola praised the “spectacular” scenery around Telluride while acknowledging that driving on narrow mountain roads can be dicey.
When the roads got really narrow, he made his wife get out of the car.
“I had my wife get out a few times – ‘Just in case, sweetheart, I don’t want both of us to go over the side (of the mountain),’” Priola said.
“She walked while I went through the dangerous part and then got back in the car.”