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For more than 50 years, Club 20 has hosted the Fall Conference and Candidate Debates attended by literally hundreds of voters from across western Colorado. A tradition on the western slope, the Club 20 steak fry and debates are considered the kickoff event to the political season.

Recently, some have claimed that Club 20 is not the best venue to discuss statewide issues, and that is absolutely correct. While many of the debates hosted on the I-25 corridor address some of the more general federal issues, we address the issues impacting our region — issues like the balanced management of public lands; protecting Colorado water rights from federal pre-emption; strengthening our health care system to improve quality and access while reducing costs in our region, and negotiating new trade agreements so our farmers and ranchers have markets to sell products.

We protect the western Colorado way of life for low-income earners struggling to make ends meet by protecting jobs, improving transportation systems, and supporting low-income housing initiatives. As leaders on the West Slope, we have helped ease the tensions between oil and gas development and outdoor recreation while preserving private property rights.

When people come to Colorado, they come to western Colorado to ski, bike, raft, fish and to enjoy the public lands that make up more than 70% of our region. They come to sip wine in Palisade, taste the best corn in the country in Olathe, and experience breathtaking views from atop Red Mountain Pass. While the Front Range has many great attributes to offer, our state’s heart and soul comes from the rural areas.

Our record of supporting road and infrastructure improvement initiatives, immigration reform, semi-open primary elections, and the repeal of the Gallagher Amendment are just a few examples of our work advocating for the best interests of our region, not playing partisan politics. We have completely modernized our events to be held virtually to ensure free access to all voters of Colorado.

Though we understand that U.S. Senate candidate John Hickenlooper has accepted invitation to events on the I-25 corridor that will be broadcast on Western Slope television stations, we can be assured that the issues facing our part of the state will not be top of mind. That is why Club 20 has hosted debates for more than 50 years, and that is why we will continue to do so. We will continue to work diligently to heal the urban/rural divide — even if a candidate for Senate has no interest in doing so.

As John Hickenlooper once said, “Colorado has always been a good place to find what you’re made of.” Come to the West Slope, participate in our debate, and show us what you are made of.

Christian Reece

Executive director

Club 20

Grand Junction

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