Democratic Pueblo County commissioners endorse Republican nominee

The United States is not as politically divided as people like to assume, said Pueblo County Commissioner Garrison Ortiz.

As divisive cultural issues galvanize Republicans and Democrats in state and local government, county government is simpler and can cross political divides — that bipartisan spirit was on display Thursday as two commissioners currently serving in the Pueblo County, both Democrats, endorsed Republican nominee Zach Swearingen at his campaign launch party.

“The strengths of the county commissioner role are administration, good politics and a genuine heart for the community, so I think it crosses party lines a bit,” Ortiz told the Chieftain.

Ortiz and Eppie Griego’s endorsements came just over a week after the primary election: Swearingen ran unopposed on the GOP ticket, but Roxy Pignanelli won against Michael Schuster to be the Democrat in November ballot.

“It has nothing to do with being a Republican or a Democrat, it has to do with the candidate. He is the best candidate for the job,” Griego said.

Pueblo County Commissioner Garrison Ortiz speaks at Zach Swearingen's campaign launch Thursday, July 7, 2022.

Speaking to the crowd at Watertower Place on Thursday night, Ortiz mentioned he encouraged Swearingen to show up.

“I only have two years left, maybe. I really want to make sure that all the hard work, the pain, the sweat, that it all doesn’t go to waste,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz discussed several projects currently underway, such as the construction of a new county jail and efforts to streamline business licensing in local government, which he would like to see continue after his term ends. in two years.

Pignanelli said she had known since before the June 28 primary that Ortiz would support Swearingen. Ortiz confirmed he spoke with her before the primary, but did not discuss endorsement plans with Schuster.

She said other Democrats backing her November opponent weren’t personal, but expressed concern about the cross-party movement.

“I think local politics may very well deserve a non-partisan platform because maybe that’s a better thing, but right now it’s not politics,” Pignanelli said. “It’s interesting to see people change along the way when they’ve been elected by their local party.

“With that in mind, I think it’s also imperative that we elect people who come to the table with experience, because those would be very expensive placements for people who don’t have enough of a track record, but that are simply researched to support current courses and agendas that may or may not be what the community voted for.

Swearingen ran for county commissioner in 2018, a year after returning to his hometown of Pueblo with his wife, Lexi, who is the communications director for Republican gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl and co- manages Swearingen’s campaign with Ed Perry.

He was defeated four years ago by Democrat Chris Wiseman, who announced last year that he would not run for another term in order to spend time with his family.

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Zach Swearingen speaks during the kickoff of his campaign to become Pueblo County Commissioner Thursday, July 7, 2022.

Swearingen served as a Navy SEAL, co-owns two businesses in Pueblo County, and served as vice chairman of the Pueblo County Planning Commission.

“I’m really not doing this for the fame, for the money or for personal reasons: I’m doing it because I absolutely know that I can make a big positive difference in my hometown and it would be irresponsible of me not to not pursue this,” Swearingen said.

He added that his main priorities would be “to ensure public safety and reduce crime”.

Ortiz also urged the crowd to help Swearingen’s campaign.

“I know there’s a lot of momentum in its favor – in our favor – but it takes funding, it takes boots on the ground, it takes advocacy and it takes help, I know that personally. So please do whatever you can to help support this leader to reach county commission level in November,” Ortiz said.

“Now is not the time to elect someone to put us back to where we were six years ago. We have to keep moving forward, we have to keep supporting law enforcement, the business world and making Pueblo County look like the community we can be,” Ortiz said. “Zach Swearingen is that candidate to join us on the Board of County Commissioners.”

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Chief Reporter Anna Lynn Winfrey can be reached by email [email protected] or on Twitter, @annalynnfrey.

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