Letter: Why become an unaffiliated candidate?

Dear Editor:
A friend and mentor of mine—a longtime Meeker and Rio Blanco County stalwart whose historic identification has been with the Republican party—and I discussed early last year that we needed to become Independent (unaffiliated) voters. He beat me to it, by a short time, and now calls himself Mr. Purple.
Why would we become Independents? It’s typical of folks to say we’re nothing but the wolves of our original party affiliation in sheep’s clothing. In my case, I know it goes much deeper. While greatly valuing long term Democratic friends, family and neighbors, on the larger scale, I have been very disappointed having the party let me down on major issues—not protecting and advancing the American producer and worker being primary among these letdowns. Party self-reform has not been happening and Independent voters are increasingly making a difference.
A big issue to me is being people- and community-focused in my thinking and acting. The parties have become too much “either/or” entities rather than “both/and” entities, and, as a consequence, default on major issues. As an Independent, it is a relief to be free of Party mantra over which one at the local level has little control.
I am a believer in the powerful interdependence we can have as Americans which the Parties often actively deny. They are NOT the only game in town. Runaway partisanship needs to be checked.
There are practical considerations, too, like the fact that the process for an Independent to get onto our ballot locally continued until late August. Seems like most of us would appreciate shorter campaign seasons!
No one in their right mind would expect a win here in RBC by adding all the registered Democratic and Unaffiliated voters against the still overwhelming registered Republican voters. A candidate has to appeal to as many voters as possible and to be a “both/and” person.

Reed Kelley
Independent Candidate for Rio Blanco County Commissioner