The Colorado Democratic Party plans to hand out a slew of awards at the party’s 84th Annual Dinner, including a new award honoring a young volunteer — although this year it’s going to two recipients.
Honorees this year include state Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, the party’s Rising Star Award winner; U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, Democrat of the Year; Ted Fritschel of Arapahoe County, Volunteer of the Year; and Euell Santistevan, Jr., of Jefferson County and Taryn Sebba of Larimer County, the party’s Murphy Roberts Young Volunteers of the Year. The Chair’s Award for Service will be announced at the dinner.
The party’s Annual Dinner — it had been known as the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner until last year when party officials decided to drop the names of the slave-owning presidents — is set for 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 11, at the Denver Marriott City Center. Tickets to the dinner, the party’s signature annual fundraiser, are $150, with full tables going for as much as $10,000.
Earlier that day, the party’s state central committee meets at the same hotel in downtown Denver to elect a state party chair, 1st and 2nd vice chairs, secretary and treasurer.
Party officials haven’t announced the keynote speaker for the dinner. Previous speakers have included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — both spoke at last year’s dinner ahead of precinct caucuses — and Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, although when he spoke he hadn’t yet been elected to the Senate.
The new award commemorates Murphy Roberts, a Steamboat Springs native, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 11 and began volunteering regularly at the Routt County Democratic Party headquarters a few years later. He died last summer at 22, but Democratic officials say he spent as much time volunteering as many Democrats who live much longer lives.
“This award is for young people like Murphy who choose to get involved in politics at a young age by knocking on doors, making phone calls, registering voters and becoming active in their communities,” said the state party’s 1st vice chair, Beverly Benavidez Ryken, in a statement.
Last year, the party named then-House Majority Leader Crisanta Duran of Denver as the Rising Star; Dr. Kathleen Ricker of El Paso County as the Democrat of the Year; and Roland Williams of Custer County as Volunteer of the Year. State party chairman Palacio designated Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia the recipient of the Chair’s Award for Service.