Letter: Unaffiliated voter and candidates

Dear Editor:
Voting was an important part of my life growing up. My mom was very active in the Republican party and was chosen as a state delegate more than once. One of my earliest memories was going into the old time voting booths with her. She would let me close the curtain using the lever and then I watched as she flipped the switches casting her vote. As I got older, I looked forward to the time when I could cast my first vote. That just happened to be 1976, the year I graduated from high school, a presidential election. I left the voting booth with tears in my eyes. I could finally participate in the precious democracy in which I was born.
Over the ensuing 42 years I have voted in every election except one (a mid-term if I remember correctly). However, I haven’t always voted as a Republican; a fact that would, I’m sure, horrify my mother. In fact, I have also been both a registered Libertarian and Democrat. Now I am proudly registered “unaffiliated” and think it unlikely that I will ever again affiliate with a specific party. I have read that party faithful (of both major parties) are disdainful of the independent voter because we just can’t make up our minds, or we just don’t have any sense of loyalty. Neither could be farther from the truth. For myself and the other independent voters I know (which are many), we often say that we did not leave the party, the party left us.
My beliefs, opinions and what I value have not changed. As an Independent, I look at the candidate, what they stand for and what they hope to do for their constituents.
In Reed Kelley and Emma Vaughn, for county commissioner and clerk/recorder, respectively, we have two unaffiliated/independent candidates on our local ballot. I urge the people of Rio Blanco County to seriously look at these courageous candidates who are bucking the party trend in our area. I have a feeling we will be seeing many more independent candidates in the future. Remember, you can vote for any candidate you choose, regardless of the party with which you are registered.
If you were unable to attend any of the events in which our local candidates appeared, I’m sure the library has back copies of recent Herald Times, which has done an excellent job of covering the candidates and the issues we face. You can also find video coverage at the Herald Times website. Be an educated voter. Reach out to the candidates; they are all very accessible.
Voting is not just a right, but a privilege—a privilege many people have died for.
Kris Hicken