Brief by Marcia Darnell
Regional organizations – July 1999 – Colorado Central Magazine
View of a Cog as Action 22 Starts Rolling
The first Action 22 regional caucus of the San Luis Valley drew about 40 people, a fair sample, since there was little publicity of the event beforehand. Cathy Garcia, acting board member, came from Pueblo to facilitate the meeting and carry recommendations back to the acting board.
After introductions, the participants listed issues worthy of Action 22’s focus. Jobs, health care, local control, affordable housing, education, environment, youth issues. The caucus recommended that a water committee be added to the four current standing committees: tourism, transportation, agriculture/public lands, and economic development.
“Telecommunications should also be an issue,” someone said. “We gotta wake U.S. West up.”
“Or put ’em to sleep for good,” someone else added.
The group then split into voting blocs by county to elect a board member and two alternates. The Alamosa County members voted Lewis Entz as its board member, a wise move since Entz, a former state legislator, knows the ins and outs of state government.
Entz campaigned well, bemoaning the loss of his indolent retirement while pointing out that, with the exception of Tom Tancredo, he’s worked with everyone in the Colorado congressional delegation.
County members signed up for membership on the standing committees, then all the groups rejoined to elect a regional vice chair to serve on Action 22’s executive committee. Entz won that position as well, proving that the Valley knows a good politico when it reselects one.
“I think it’s high time the counties of southern Colorado get together,” Entz said. “As a group, we can do something.”
The local press was absent from the meeting, as it has been throughout the rise of Action 22. Public radio station KRZA sent its news director, and Colorado Central sent its favorite Valley hack (me). That was it for coverage.
However, Action 22 now has a web site, making it easier for the public to contact, and learn from, the organization. Log on at www.action22.org .
Cathy Garcia said that Action 22 has grown to 200 members, including counties, towns, businesses, non-profits, and individuals. Paid dues now total $70,000 with another $9,000 pledged.
Dennis Murphy, the mayor of Del Norte, said he thought the meeting “was very positive — it’s good to see the process move forward.” He signed on for the economic development committee, and the education committee, if one is formed.
I agreed. With concrete issues, elected officials, and money in the bank, Action 22 seems more tangible than it was in January. There are people taking action, and that’s good.