New guv makes stop in Grand Junction

250 attend dinner with Hickenlooper

Gov. John Hickenlooper sits with the Girls Scouts from Troop No. 139 at the governor’s party at the Ale House on Friday night.

Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Western Slope inaugural dinner Friday had something its Denver version a few days earlier didn’t, former Secretary of State Bernie Beuscher said.

Better barbecue.

“In fact, it was 10 times better,” the former Grand Junction representative quipped, referring to the food at The Ale House, 2531 N. 12th St., where Hickenlooper and Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia held their second of three inaugural dinners. “That other stuff was mediocre at best.”

Buescher, a Democrat, was one of more than 250 people from both major political parties who attended the dinner at the bar and restaurant. Local Republican lawmakers such as Sen. Steve King and Rep. Laura Bradford also attended.

The third dinner will be tonight in Pueblo, but those who attend won’t get better barbecue. They’re being served spaghetti.

Grand Junction Mayor Teresa Coons welcomed Hickenlooper and Garcia to town, saying she was pleased their first stop after being sworn into office in Denver was the Western Slope.

“I don’t know how often a new governor comes to Grand Junction in the first week,” she said to applause. “We really appreciate it.”

While the Denver event included a full-blown concert, Grand Junction’s featured a slightly smaller version: the song written by Central High School student Destinee Reed, who won a contest sponsored by Hickenlooper’s inaugural committee for her song, “My Colorado.” Reed performed it at the new governor’s Denver event, and she did so again Friday.

The new governor, who has combined the dinners with a four-day, eight-city tour of the state to develop economic development plans, told the crowd the reception he has received since being sworn into office Tuesday has been welcoming regardless of political party.

He said that’s a good thing because getting the state on the road to economic recovery knows no party lines.

“We’re past the point that we can afford to be bickering on small points,” he said. “We are going to set a new standard in how people work together.”

Hickenlooper said he wasn’t out to create geographical diversity on his Cabinet when he tapped several Western Slope residents to top jobs in his administration, including Club 20 executive director Reeves Brown as head the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. Brown, the new governor said, was one of six from this side of the state who will serve in his Cabinet.

The most any previous governor has had at one time was two, he said.

Richard Alward, a member of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission who attended the dinner, said that even though Hickenlooper is a fellow Democrat, he doesn’t always talk like one.

Still, the Grand Junction ecologist said he’s not concerned that Hickenlooper seems to act more like a Republican than a Democrat.

“We need to work together,” Alward said. “But if you have to work together, it’s better to have your guy in charge.”


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