Candidates Vie For Albritton’s Vacant Commissioner Seat
by Peter Shelton
Aug 16, 2012 | 2845 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
GOODBYES FOR ALBRITTTON - Well-wishers gathered at Billy Goat Gruff's Biergarten in Ouray Sunday, Aug. 12, to say goodbye to Ouray County Commissioner Heidi Albritton (right), next to Lynn Padgett and Keith Meinert. Albritton has resigned several months shy of completing her second term, to begin a new family adventure in Seattle, Wash. (Photo by Samantha Wright)
GOODBYES FOR ALBRITTTON - Well-wishers gathered at Billy Goat Gruff's Biergarten in Ouray Sunday, Aug. 12, to say goodbye to Ouray County Commissioner Heidi Albritton (right), next to Lynn Padgett and Keith Meinert. Albritton has resigned several months shy of completing her second term, to begin a new family adventure in Seattle, Wash. (Photo by Samantha Wright)
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OURAY COUNTY – As of press time Wednesday, there were six Ouray County residents who had sent applications to Governor Hickenlooper’s office seeking to fill the vacancy created by Commissioner Heidi Albritton’s departure.

The governor has until Aug. 24 to appoint a replacement, who will serve through the end of the year when a new commissioner, the winner in November in the contest between Republican Don Batchelder and Independent Pat Willits, takes office.

Willits has indicated he is one of the applicants for the temporary seat. He was unavailable (out of contact on a river trip) for comment this week.

The governor’s appointee must be a registered Unaffiliated voter, since Albritton left office as Unaffiliated, and reside in her Commissioner District 3. Among the others to send in their resumés are Cathy McElman, Ben Tisdel, “Planet” Janet Smith, Larry Coulter, and Christen Davis.

Coulter told The Watch that he has been Unaffiliated for “just the last couple of weeks, since I heard about Heidi’s resignation. I understand her decision, but I was disappointed that she turned her back on her constituents.”

Coulter said he “didn’t have any burning issue or ax to grind,” just that he’d “like to see a kind of neutral, unbiased bridge between Heidi and the new commissioner, whoever that’s going to be.”

He did express “concern that Pat Willits would possibly get a one-up as an incumbent” in the November election.

McElman, who also switched from being a registered Republican, told The Watch, “I don’t feel that I should comment at all until the [governor’s] decision is made.”

Tisdel, a native of Ouray and contemporary of Albritton’s said, “Yes, I did put my name in. As a kind of back-up, if Pat Willits is not appointed to the seat. I really prefer that Pat be appointed, but I know what Heidi’s been doing, I understand the work, and I’d be willing to care-take the position for five months.”

He indicated he would not be interested in running for election to a seat on the board.

Smith, who lost a race for Ridgway Mayor this spring, said in her application letter, “Margaret Thatcher lost her first election” and went on to become known as The Iron Lady. As for the temporary commissioner seat, she said, “I am running for public office because I see opportunity passing us by and time is not on our side.”

Davis, née Duckett, owner of Duckett’s Market in Ouray and another contemporary of Albritton’s at Ouray High School, said she threw her hat in the ring “essentially because I would like to give more back to the community. Be more involved. Heidi and I share a lot of views. I’ve been Unaffiliated for several years.”

It is unclear from the governor’s press release if there is a cut-off date for applicants to the position. The only date certain is Aug. 24, when the appointment will be announced.

pshelton@watchnewspapers.com

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