Former lawmakers land county party positions at reorganization meetings

Former state Rep. Mike Cerbo, D-Denver, second from right, awaits his turn at the microphone along with supporters Josh Miller, Susan Rogers, state Sen. Angela Williams and Morgan Watters at the Denver County Democratic Party's reorganization meeting on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017, at South High School in Denver. Cerbo was elected chair of the county party, one of several former legislators to win county officer positions this month. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)

Former state Rep. Mike Cerbo, D-Denver, second from right, awaits his turn at the microphone along with supporters Josh Miller, Susan Rogers, state Sen. Angela Williams, D-Denver, and Morgan Watters at the Denver County Democratic Party’s reorganization meeting on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017, at South High School in Denver. Denver Democrats elected Cerbo to a two-year term as chair of the county party, one of several former legislators to win county officer positions this month. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)

Three former legislators won election to county party offices on Saturday as state Democrats and Republicans conduct their biennial reorganization meetings.

Denver Democrats elected former state Rep. Mike Cerbo, D-Denver, to a two-year term as the county party’s chairman, Adams County Republicans tapped former state Rep. JoAnn Windholz, R-Commerce City, as vice chair, and El Paso County Republicans picked former state Rep. Catherine “Kit” Roupe, R-Colorado Springs, as their secretary.

County party central committees are meeting through February in advance of the state reorganization meetings — the Democrats on March 11 in Denver and the GOP on April 1 in Englewood. While it varies some by county, party members vote every two years to elect a chair, vice chair and secretary in each of Colorado’s 64 counties (some split vice chair duties among two or more officers and the county party treasurer is an elected position some places).

Cerbo won the county chair seat in Denver at the party’s meeting Saturday at South High School, prevailing over organizer JoAnn Fujioka with 57 percent of the vote. The other three Denver County Democratic Party officers were elected by acclamation, with only one candidate for each position: James Reyes for vice chair, Russ Johnson for secretary and Ken Hermann for treasurer.

First elected to represent House District 2 in 2002, Cerbo won reelection twice. He stepped down from the southeast Denver seat in September 2007 to take a job as executive director of the Colorado AFL-CIO and held that post until 2015.

Former House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, was named to fill the House District 2 vacancy created by Cerbo’s resignation. After he was term-limited, Ferrandino was succeeded in office by Assistant House Majority Leader Alec Garnett, D-Denver, who has won election to the seat twice. (Cerbo’s son, Mike Cerbo, Jr., ran for a seat on the RTD board last fall, coming in second in the District A election to Kate Williams.)

Former state Rep. Kit Roupe, R-Colorado Springs, visits with Secretary of State Wayne Williams at the Lincoln Club of Colorado's inaugural ball on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, at the Marriott Denve Tech Center. Roupe was elected secretary of the El Paso County GOP on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017, one of several former legislators to win county party office this month. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)

Former state Rep. Kit Roupe, R-Colorado Springs, visits with Secretary of State Wayne Williams at the Lincoln Club of Colorado’s inaugural ball on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, at the Marriott Denve Tech Center. Roupe was elected secretary of the El Paso County GOP on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017, one of several former legislators to win county party office this month. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)

Running without opposition, Windholz won election as the Adams County Republican Party’s vice chair by acclamation, as did the other county GOP officer candidates — incumbent Chairman Anil Mathai and Doug Woody, the party’s secretary. The county party met Saturday at Crossroads Church in Thornton.

After ousting incumbent state Rep. Jenise May, D-Aurora, in 2014 — by just over 100 votes — Windholz lost her bid for a second term representing House District 30 in eastern Adams County last year to Democratic challenger Dafna Michaelson Jenet. (May came up short in her attempt to return to the Legislature last year, losing a bid for an open Senate seat to Republican Kevin Priola.)

Like Windholz, Roupe didn’t face opposition in her bid for election as secretary of the El Paso GOP, which convened for an otherwise contentious meeting on Saturday at Coronado High School in Colorado Springs.

Relative newcomer Trevor Dierdorff won election as county chair with 63 percent of the vote, ahead of former state Republican Party Secretary Lana Fore with 27 percent, and former U.S. Senate hopeful Charlie Ehler, who got 10 percent. Former legislative candidate Josh Hosler won the vice chair position with 54 percent of the vote, ahead of former state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt’s 30 percent and Anita Miller’s 16 percent.

Jeff Hays, the outgoing El Paso County GOP chair, is running for state Republican Party chair against former congressional candidate George Athanasopoulos.

Roupe unseated state Rep. Tony Exum, D-Colorado Springs, in 2014 in House District 17 but lost a rematch two years later, when Exum reclaimed the seat. (The district on the south side of Colorado Springs has changed hands between Democrats and Republicans every election for the past decade.)

ernest@coloradostatesman.com

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