Two independent candidates running for a seat on the La Plata County commission this November handed in signatures Thursday in an attempt to qualify to appear on the ballot.
As part of Colorado law, independent candidates must collect the number of signatures that reflects at least 2% of the vote cast in the previous election in the district in which they are running.
For candidate Charly Minkler, who is seeking to represent District 3, that means he must have 591 valid signatures. Jack Turner, running for District 2, must obtain 601 valid signatures.
If Minkler qualifies for the ballot, he would run against Matt Salka, a Democrat, and if Turner qualifies, he would run against Marsha Porter-Norton, also a Democrat.
In response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Jared Polis extended the period to collect signatures from June 1 to July 27.
On Thursday, however, both Minkler and Turner submitted collected signatures to La Plata County Clerk & Recorder Tiffany Parker.
Minkler submitted 1,095 signatures and Turner submitted 1,082 signatures. All signatures must be verified as registered La Plata County voters. All information, such as legal name and address, must be correct.
Calls to Parker were not immediately returned Thursday afternoon. Her office has until July 30 to verify the signatures.
On top of having to collect around 600 signatures each, the independent candidates had to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, which prohibits traditional signature-gathering events and going door to door.
As a result, Minkler and Turner organized six drive-thru events throughout Durango, Bayfield, Ignacio and Breen over the past several weeks.
“In the end, both Charly and I felt like it was a fulfilling experience,” Turner said. “People drove all across the county to meet us, and we are so appreciative.”
Minkler said the experience allowed him to meet county residents he wouldn’t have otherwise met. Some people, he said, weren’t necessarily signing the ballot with the intent to vote for him, they just wanted a choice of two candidates.
“People wanted to help support the democratic process by giving the people of the county another person on the ballot,” he said.