Guest Columns

STROGOFF: THE END OF SUMMER, BUT HARDLY THE END OF POLITICS

Recall elections, mental health and Gessler’s announcement for Guv

The Colorado Statesman

When the dust finally settles after Tuesday’s recall elections in Colorado Springs and Pueblo, hopefully the results will be decisive one way or the other — not only for the sake of Democratic senators John Morse and Angie Giron whose political fate is at hand, but also for the numerous other protagonists in this high intrigue political drama that has unfolded over the past few months.

The prospect of additional court challenges and/or recounts isn’t particularly appealing after such a long summer of unanticipated electioneering. Except for a few ballot measures to be voted upon in November, this was supposed to be our off-election year.

Remember those?

I think they’re becoming a lost phenomena. There really is no such thing as a non-election year anymore. Besides all the theatrics occuring in Colorado Springs and neighboring Pueblo to the south, there’s also been a flurry of campaign activities throughout the rest of the state. The election calendar has been set into accelerated motion and judging from the frenetic pace, this might as well be Election Year 2014 already, not just its prelude.

And if Morse or Giron are actually recalled, it sets into motion heightened political drama in the coming months as legislators do their business in an even more competitive arena.
It’s pretty crazy.

But let’s be careful how we use that word.

Out here in Political Land it’s easy to label events and candidates along a sort of sanity spectrum that includes the word “crazy” at one end. Think back, if you can, to the last gubernatorial race of 2010. Any doubt that it wasn’t one of the strangest political contests we’ve ever experienced in Colorado? Dare we remind you of a few of the characters involved whose antics were a little out of the ordinary? It really was crazy.

But as Don Mares, the president and CEO of Mental Health America of Colorado points out in his column this week, the words associated with intense feelings and personal experiences are often incorrect and hurtful. “Journalists, pundits, public officials and ordinary folks just talking about the news have perpetuated myths about what mental health means without even realizing it,” he pens in the first of what will be monthly columns on page 5.

“Because of the stigma associated with mental illness many people will never report problems to their doctor or reach out to others for help,” Mares opines. This has serious implications for many facets of our population and over the next few months we’ll try to tackle some of these issues with the help of Mares and his colleagues in the mental health arena. We welcome Don and his organization on board as regular contributors to The Colorado Statesman.

We’ll end this column this week much as we began, with a political item since politics is, afterall, our mainstay.

Later this month, Secretary of State Scott Gessler will make an announcement about his political plans for 2014. The controversial Republican officeholder has been uncharacteristically coy about his forthcoming political plans, preferring to tell people only the time and place of his announcement without shedding much light as to which office he’ll be seeking. Of course we’ve assumed all along that it will be for governor since he formed an exploratory committee a few months ago.

We now know that for sure.

The Colorado Statesman has confirmed that Gessler will indeed formally declare his candidacy for governor Sept. 17 at 6 p.m. at the Cable Center in Denver, and that former U.S. Rep. Bob Schaffer of Ft. Collins will appear alongside Gessler to introduce him.

Jody@coloradostatesman.com