La Plata County resident Clyde Church has announced his intention to run as a Democrat for the one La Plata County commissioner seat up for grabs in next year’s November election.
“I really have always been in some sort of a service role, directly or indirectly,” Church said. “This is an extension of what I’ve done in the past.”
Next year’s election features a race for one position on the three-person Board of County Commissioners. The seat is for District 1 representative, which covers nearly all of western La Plata County, but all registered voters in the county will be able to vote on the seat.
In 2016, La Plata County commissioners Gwen Lachelt and Julie Westendorff, both Democrats, won re-election and retained their seats. Both commissioners are term-limited in 2020.
The representative for District 1 is currently held by Brad Blake, a Republican, who in 2014 narrowly defeated Democratic candidate Cynthia Roebuck by a vote of 10,933 to 10,843.
Blake, when contacted Tuesday, said he’s leaning toward a bid for re-election but said he first needs to consult with his family before officially declaring.
“I have enjoyed being a county commissioner,” Blake said. “Right now, I’m in the process of making that decision, and I’m going to have some discussions with the family.”
La Plata County Clerk Tiffany Parker said Tuesday the only people to formally file for the 2018 election in La Plata County is herself, for clerk & recorder, and Charles Hamby, for La Plata County sheriff.
Church said Tuesday he is in the final stages of formally filing his candidacy with the Secretary of State’s Office. He will hold an official launch party at noon Nov. 14 at the Rochester Hotel, 726 East Second Ave.
Church said he moved to Durango in 1999 after working for decades in the technology and business field, working for Sperry Defense Systems, Metalcraft, as well as Iowa State University’s College of Engineering.
Around the time he moved to Durango, he changed his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat, after the Republican Party started to move in a direction he disagreed with, he said.
“The Republican Party was starting to fracture as the far-right wing was gaining political clout,” he said. “We were moderate Republicans, always trying to move the Republican Party to a moderate position.”
In Durango, Church has been heavily involved in the Rotary Club, serving as district governor for 58 clubs throughout the region. He also served on the Southwest Colorado Workforce board, worked as an economic developer for Dolores County, and participated in the Durango Planning Commission as a county representative in the early 2000s.
Ultimately, Church says the role of county commissioner is not a partisan job. Instead, the job is to face local issues and serve the residents to the best of a commissioner’s ability, he said.
Church said he was asked by several people to run, and after looking into it more, he decided he could be of service at a time when the county faces drastic budget cuts.
Church said some of his main platforms are protecting the environment, expanding and diversifying the economy, wildfire mitigation, wise fiscal management, and finding partnerships to supplement lost oil and gas revenues.
Church, who lives in the Falls Creek area, said he retired from his career in the technology sector long ago and will be a “full-time county commissioner.”
“I’m creative, I come up with out-of-the-box options, and I like to build collaborations between organizations,” Church said. “I’m a planner, and I like to convert ideas to action.”
The deadline to affiliate with a political party is Jan. 8, and primary elections are slated for June 26.
This will also be the first election in Colorado since a state regulation was voted into law last year that allows unaffiliated voters to cast ballots in primaries.