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MEEKER I Tea Party supporters from Meeker and Rangely, as well as other northwest Colorado communities, were out in force last week.
And they made their voices heard.
An estimated 100 people held handmade posters, waved to passersby and listened to speeches during a rally last Thursday at the corner of Sixth and Market streets in Meeker.
“I thought it went really well for our first rally,” said Lois Sampson, one of the organizers of the Meeker Tea Party group. “We had some people from Craig, from Rangely, there was a woman from Rifle and a couple from Steamboat (Springs). There was a lady from New Castle, too. So we had people from all around northwest Colorado.”
Speakers included Rogers Meredith, the pastor of the Meeker Christ Reformed Church; Derek Purvis, a Meeker student; Rio Blanco County Sheriff Si Woodruff; and Aaron Zielinske, pastor of the Meeker Assembly of God Church and a former Marine. Sam Thiessen served as master of ceremonies.
“We must never forget the past; for history, both modern and ancient, has shown us that in the wrong hands, law and government quickly become tyrannical,” Meredith said in his remarks. “America is faced with a simple choice: Choose you this day who you will serve, but only remember that you become like the one you serve.”
George LeFevre, who attended the first Tea Party meeting in Meeker on April 6 and then encouraged his son Doug to organize a group in Rangely, participated in last week’s rally.
“I thought it went great,” LeFevre said. “There were a lot of cars that went by and honked. What I liked about the group, we had young people and older people. We had all age groups. It isn’t just a bunch of old people.”
The event went so well organizers are considering when to have the next rally.
“There are a lot of ideas out there,” Sampson said. “I’m sure we’ll be doing something.”
Possible dates that have been mentioned for the next rally include during the Fourth of July Range Call activities or in September during the Meeker Classic Sheepdog Champion-ship Trials.
The Tea Party groups on both ends of the county meet on Thursday nights. Two of the three county commissioner candidates — Shawn Bolton and Wendy Gutierrez — will address the Meeker group at this week’s meeting. Jake Segrest, an independent candidate for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, will also speak. Republican candidate Bob McConnell spoke at the Meeker Tea Party meeting April 29, as did Pat Hughes, the third county commissioner candidate. The Meeker group will also elect officers at tonight’s meeting.
Ken Buck of Greeley, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Michael Bennet, will be in Meeker for a political meet and greet at 2 p.m. Sunday at Kilowatt Korner.
Democrat John Salazar, who currently represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, has been a frequent target of criticism from the Tea Party group.
“We’ll see,” Sampson said when asked if Salazar would be invited to speak to the Tea Party group. “I don’t know if people want to hear from him. They’re not too happy with him, but they may want to ask him to explain why he did what he did.”
George LeFevre said that is the purpose of the Tea Party, to hold elected officials accountable.
“I don’t think the government is really listening to the average person, to what we want and what we need,” he said. “There’s a lot of stuff (government-approved legislation), and I don’t know how we’re going to pay for all of it. I’m not saying those things are bad, but like the ordinary person, we have to live within our means. The government needs to do the same.”