Direction emerges for open Colorado Senate seat |

Direction emerges for open Colorado Senate seat

Candidates will have 3 minutes for introduction, 25 minutes for Q-and-A on Monday

If you go

What: State Senate District 8 vacancy committee meeting

When: 2 p.m. Monday

Where: Moffat County Courthouse, 221 W. Victory Way, Craig

For more: Those interested in being nominated for the vacant state Senate seat are asked to e-mail Phil Vaughan, chairman of Senate District 8, at, and Senate District 8 secretary Audrey Danner, at audreydanner@gmai..., before the committee meeting. Anyone interested should include name, address, phone number and e-mail address with the letter of interest, biography and proof of Republican Party registration in the district.

Committee members

State Senate District 8 vacancy committee:

Randy Milhoan, Eagle County Republican chairman

Milt Blakey, Garfield County Republican chairman

Dick Snavely, Jackson County Republican chairman

John Ponikvar, Moffat County Republican chairman

David Smith, Rio Blanco County Republican chairman

Jack Taylor, Routt County Republican chairman

Audrey Danner, Senate District 8 secretary

Jean White, Senate District 8 vice-chairwoman

Phil Vaughan, Senate District 8 chairman

— Candidates for the region’s vacant state Senate seat may have to do some fast talking Mon­­day.

Those looking to replace Re­­publican state Sen. Al White, of Hayden, will have three minutes to introduce themselves, followed by 25 minutes for a Q-and-A period that caps each response at two minutes, according to draft rules released Wed­­nes­­day by the state Senate Dis­­trict 8 vacancy committee.

The committee is holding a public meeting at 2 p.m. Mon­­day at the Moffat County Court­­­house in Craig to select the replacement for White, who starts as director of the Colorado Tour­­ism Office on Jan. 11.

The state Legislature convenes Jan. 12 at the Capitol in Den­­ver.

Former state Sen. Jack Tay­­lor, of Steamboat Springs, is chairman of the Routt County Republican Party and a member of the Senate district’s vacancy committee. He said Wednesday that any introduction time less than 10 minutes could be challenging for candidates, especially given the complexity and breadth of issues — such as a budget deficit estimated at $715 million — facing the state and the district.

The time allotted for candidate introductions could change.

Phil Vaughan, chairman of the Senate district committee, said the committee will review the agenda and rules Monday at the meeting and could make changes at that time.

“Until Jan. 3, we won’t know exactly how the process will work,” Vaughan said.

Vaughan lives in Rulison, a Garfield County town between Rifle and Battlement Mesa, and has owned Phil Vaughan Con­­struction Management since 1989. He’s been involved in regional politics through the Republican Party since the mid-1980s but has not held elected office, choosing instead to serve on precinct and district committees.

He’s also business affairs chairman for Club 20, a conservative-leaning Western Slope advocacy group.

Whoever fills the Senate Dis­trict 8 vacancy will serve the rest of Al White’s term through 2012.

Steamboat Springs Repub­lican Bob McConnell, who lost a congressional primary in Aug­ust, has declared his candidacy for the state seat. So has Jean White, wife of Al White and vice chairwoman of the Senate district committee. She said this week that she’ll recuse herself from all discussions and actions related to the vacancy.

Jeff Fry, of Hayden, has ex­­pressed interest in the vacant Sen­­ate seat. Fry is a Routt County Plan­­ning Commission member who has served as a regional vice chairman for the county GOP. Taylor also said Shan­­non Stowe, of Garfield Coun­­ty, has expressed interest, along with others from Garfield, Eagle and Moffat counties.

Vaughan said the candidate pool could get deeper.

“Folks don’t have to make contact prior to” Monday, he said. “They can come to the meeting that day, have someone nominate them, and they can certainly make their argument at that time.”

Colorado’s Senate District 8 includes Moffat, Routt, Rio Blanco and Eagle counties along with part of Garfield County.

Vaughan said the selection process could extend beyond Monday.

“We may have a tremendous amount of candidates, and that meeting may have to continue to another day in order to hear everyone and make that decision,” Vaughan said.

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