As many as 150 people joined U.S. Rep. John Salazar, state Senator Bruce Whitehead, Archuleta County Commissioner Clifford Lucero and state House candidate Brian O’Donnell at the Archuleta County Democratic Party’s annual Chili Supper and Cookoff on Oct. 10. While enjoying music by the John Graves Jazz Quartet, the crowd sampled chili from 20 different cooks, Pagosa Baking Company cornbread, fresh salad, ice cream and cake. Top honors in the cookoff were awarded to Carla Vaivoda.
In his keynote address, Salazar reviewed current issues of interest to southwest Colorado including pending health care reform before Congress. He reiterated that now is the time for comprehensive health care reform, that the prospects for significant change were good, and he promised final action would be accomplished by the end of the year.
He also touched on the topic of energy independence, stressing the need for funding of transitional energy sources such as clean coal and nuclear technologies on the road to a renewable energy future.
Salazar reviewed many initiatives his office has been assisting with in Archuleta County, including the geothermal greenhouse project, Chimney Rock Archaeological Site’s change to National Monument status, and the continuing discussion of development at Wolf Creek, about which he stressed that any resolution had to involve affected communities (Pagosa Springs, South Fork, Mineral County).
Salazar also recognized the attendance of Stephen Nickerson, which received an extended standing ovation from those in attendance. Salazar had the honor of awarding Mr. Nickerson the Bronze Star earlier that evening.
Whitehead reviewed pending and future actions at the Colorado statehouse, especially those related to water quality and budget.
O’Donnell, candidate for State House District 59, addressed his priorities to improve the economy of southwest Colorado, make quality healthcare more accessible and affordable, and protect our land and water.
The dinner was also highlighted by the presence of another honored guest, Genelle Macht. Mrs. Macht was recognized as the longest registered Democrat in the county, voting in every election since 1944. The crowd serenaded Mrs. Macht with “Happy Birthday” on the occasion of her recently-celebrated 95th birthday.