Emily Newcomer will remain on the ballot for a seat on the Durango School District 9-R Board of Education despite failing to file correctly with the state.
Newcomer, a licensed psychotherapist, failed to file a candidate affidavit with the Colorado Secretary of State within 10 days of becoming a candidate.
A person becomes a candidate when they publicly announce their intent to run for office and then receives a contribution or makes an expenditure in support of their candidacy, according to the Secretary of State.
There is more than a two-month gap from the time Newcomer formed a campaign committee on Aug. 8 – and began receiving donations – and filed her candidate affidavit on Oct. 11.
She is running against incumbent Shere Byrd, a professor of Biology at Fort Lewis College, to represent District E, which includes the area northeast of downtown and east of the Animas River.
On Tuesday, Newcomer acknowledged the gap in filing and said she was “very upset” when it was brought to her attention.
“I thought what I had done was the candidate affidavit,” she said.
“I found out when someone contacted me and said they couldn’t find me on TRACER. I take accountability, because it was my mistake.”
TRACER is the Secretary of State’s online campaign finance filing system. It contains campaign finance data for all state and county candidates, committees and political parties dating back to 2002.
Candidates are required by law to register a committee if they accept contributions in support of their candidacy.
Newcomer received 15 donations totaling $990 in support of her campaign before filing her candidate affidavit in October.
She said that as soon as she realized her mistake, she “handled it as best as I knew how to.”
“I wanted to make sure I followed all the rules around registering the committee before I accepted money,” Newcomer said. “I didn’t want to do anything wrong, and I totally missed this other step.”
La Plata County Clerk and Recorder Tiffany Parker said it is not uncommon for new candidates to make this kind of filing mistake.
“This is a complex process, and it’s not easy,” she said. “All of the candidates are just doing their best.”
Parker said that school board candidates are certified through the district.
Board clerk Sarah Berggren, who was appointed as the district’s election official, said Newcomer’s mistake is not grounds for a disqualification.
“The only thing that could happen to her is the Secretary of State could fine her for every day that the filing had not been received,” she said.
No penalties or complaints have been filed against Newcomer as of Tuesday afternoon.