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Rural Coloradans petitioning for an audience with their governor

How hard is it for rural Coloradans to have their voices heard by Denver politicians? Hard enough that some in Moffat County, in the northwest corner of the state, have started a petition asking simply for Gov. John Hickenlooper to visit and listen to their concerns.

Moffat County is one of several whose residents will vote on whether to secede and form their own state in November. Although many see the effort as an overly-dramatic way of sending a message to the Democratic-dominated state government that rural residents are feeling ignored, it’s not the only message that has been sent.

Moffat County resident Frank Moe, who runs the local Best Western Inn, said he’s tried to get Hickenlooper’s attention with everything from a snail-mailed invitation and an online request to Facebook messages and tweets, all to no avail.

“I’d try sky-writing it, but I don’t think I could afford it,” Moe told the Craig Daily Press.

Now he’s hoping a Change.org petition will do the trick.

“As you are now aware, Moffat County voters will have on our November ballot the question of secession from the state of Colorado,” the petition to Hickenlooper reads. “I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to come visit us here in rural Northwest Colorado, to spend some quality time getting to know us and giving us the opportunity to get to know you better as well.”

“These are trying times for all of Colorado, but especially the rural communities,” it continues. “Your latest offer to ‘lean in and listen’ is a start for us to have true dialogue concerning the specific issues for all Moffat County citizens.”

So far, only 43 people have signed the online petition, but an email is sent to Hickenlooper’s office every time a new name is added.

Moffat County Commissioners voted 2-1 last month to add the secession question to the ballot, joining several others that have talked about the possibility of forming the country’s 51st state. Although their complaints with the state government in Denver are varied, they all stem from the impression that urban politicians have gotten badly out of touch with Colorado’s rural values.

“If Moffat County voters are informed, engaged and are convinced that their voices are not only heard, but taken to heart with positive results, I feel the bonds of what make this great state can be re-established,” the petition concludes.

Moe told the local newspaper that trying to be heard in Denver can be frustrating.

“If people have personally not dealt with the governor, legislature or bills that affect our area,” he said, “it’s easy to say, ‘Keep communicating.’”

A Hickenlooper spokesman told the Craig Daily Press that the governor’s scheduling staff is checking his availability.

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