Club 20’s Annual Autumn Steak Fry

Political fare also on menu
Western Slope Correspondent

Legislators — current, former and probably future — as well as state and local officials, lobbyists and business people visited during the cocktail hour at the Club 20 annual steak fry at Cross Orchards, an historic working farm owned by the Museum of the West in Grand Junction.

Long favored by Club 20 and numerous other organizations to stage events, Cross Orchards was the site for a campaign speech in 2008 by Barack Obama on his way to the White House.

Reeves Brown, executive director of the Department of Local Affairs, with his wife Penny Brown and daughter Abigail.
Photo by Rachael Davis

The 200 attendees at Club 20 tucked into thick steaks, Olathe sweet corn, tossed salad, beans and rolls catered by Les Mergelman of Cedaredge, a longtime Club 20 activist, and served by Future Farmers of America teens from Delta County. Nobody left hungry.

Club 20’s new executive director Bonnie Petersen rushed around with the harried look of an overwhelmed hostess — which she was — as she oversaw her first fall meeting of the Western Slope promotional and lobbying organization.

Ann McCoy, former chair of Club 20, and Brian Meinhart, a staffer in U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton’s CD 3 office.
Photo by Rachael Davis

By the end of the first day, with a full board meeting under her belt, Petersen finally relaxed with a steak dinner.

State Rep. Sal Pace, D-Pueblo, continued his campaign for the 3rd Congressional District currently held by Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez. The State House Minority Leader had the field to himself at the steak fry Friday night, and capitalized on the opportunity to mix and mingle among the politicos and, perhaps, future constituents down the road. Tipton was on the schedule for Saturday, where he opened that day’s session.

Ken Leis, of Laramie Energy and Kathy Hall, Colorado Oil & Gas representative.
Photo by Rachael Davis

Pace said he’s campaigned in 25 of the sprawling district’s 29 counties, as currently configured, talking with small groups, greeting people in stores and on main streets and meeting business leaders. One longtime Club 20 member said she stopped into a grocery store in Delta on the Fourth of July and Pace was the first person she saw.

“How are you holding up?” many people asked former state Rep. Gayle Berry, R-Grand Junction, who is serving on the state’s reapportionment commission. “It’s nearly over,” she replied with relief in her voice.

Al White, director of the Colorado Tourism Office, State Rep. Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, and former state Sen. Ron Peck, R-Grand Junction.
Photo by Rachael Davis

Berry said the commission will vote on its final map Sept. 19, which will end its service — unless the state Supreme Court remands it back to the group for more work.

“They’ve sent it back both times before,” she said, referring to reapportionment 10 and 20 years ago. “The court can’t change our map, like it can with redistricting, but they can send it back. So we’ll see.”

The process has been long and arduous, she said, even leading one of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s top aides to joke, “I didn’t know you’ve given up your lobbying practice.”

Bill Cleary, left, retired president of Club 20, Sue Brown, and Paul Brown, Mesa County Public Trustee.
Photo by Rachael Davis

State Rep. Laura Bradford, R-Collbran, said she’s still undecided whether to seek a third term at the Statehouse or run for Mesa County commissioner.

“Being home all the time would be nice,” she said. “But this is an important job, too.”

Bradford likely would be a strong favorite in the commissioner’s race. And the pay of $72,500 is certainly better than the $30,000 plus per diem that legislators make.

Bonnie Peterson, executive director of Club 20.
Photo by Rachael Davis

Reeves Brown, who was Club 20’s executive director before joining Hickenlooper’s cabinet as director of the Department of Local Affairs, enjoyed coming home. He continues to live with his wife and children in Fruita and tries to work as much as he can on the Western Slope instead of in Denver.

Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, and Kellie Hotter, La Plata County Commissioner.
Photo by Rachael Davis

These days, he’s usually the only resident of the Governor’s Mansion, which Hickenlooper opened up for use by his many department heads who don’t live fulltime in the Denver metropolitan area.

“It’s obvious a nice place, and I pay some rent, but I’d much rather be home,” Brown said.

Ken Henry, mayor of Fruita and candidate for Mesa County Commissioner, and 1-year-old granddaughter Ashley.
Photo by Rachael Davis

Ann McCoy of Pagosa Springs, a former chairwoman of Club 20, got plenty of looks and laughs at the vest she was wearing.

State Rep. Laura Bradford, R-Collbran, and former state Rep. Gayle Berry, R-Grand Junction.
Photo by Rachael Davis

A promotional tool of a now-defunct outfitting business, the back shows the skeleton of a trophy-class bull elk. Above it: “Bone and Release.”