PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) -- Election Day is looming, and Pueblo County voters will decide the fate of two commissioner seats. However, it’s the race for District Seat 2 between current Pueblo County Commissioner Garrison Ortiz and former Colorado State Senator Abel Tapia that has been the most heated.
In recent weeks, several TV attack advertisements, funded by the independent political committee 'Build Pueblo Not Jails,' have made their way to Pueblo voters TV sets.
The ads target Commissioner Ortiz, and his record on the Pueblo County Jail. Claiming the County Commissioner's plan to combat COVID-19 is to build a new $100 million dollar jail.
“This is just a prime example of one of the numerous ads that has been put out there that is just trying to play upon emotion," said Ortiz. "Spreading false information.”
In 2019 as well as 2017 and 2015, voters turned down the county’s plan to build a new jail. The current jail has a number of infrastructure and inmate capacity issues.
For Ortiz, his goal of building a new jail doesn’t interfere with the county’s many responsibilities.
“The jail issue isn’t not taking away from the scholarship program the jail issue isn’t taking away from the COVID-19 response whatsoever. I’ve been very proud of some of the work we’ve been able to do," said Ortiz. "In leading this community, we pushed through our variance to the governor. Very quickly. We were able to get these businesses reopened.”
Ortiz believes Tapia’s campaign is illegally coordinating with the committee 'Build Pueblo Not Jails.' His opponent denies that claim.
“(Build Pueblo Not Jails) formed their own committee and by law, I can’t correspond with them, nor have I,” said Abel Tapia.
Tapia says he agrees with most of the ad campaign's message, specifically regarding the jail. However, he doesn't agree with all of the advertisements. At the end of the attack ad commercial states that Commissioner Ortiz doesn't share Pueblo's democratic values.
“Garrison is a Democrat as I am a Democrat," said Tapia. "This is a democratic process. We’re not measuring ourselves as who is more Democrat than another, but we are measuring ourselves with what would a Democratic candidate speak towards. I think helping people not building a prison does that.”
Build Pueblo Not Jails puts forth a few advertisements attacking Ortiz on a variety of issues. One ad accuses Ortiz of being supportive of a prohibition on recreation cannabis, a claim the county commissioner says is just another falsehood.