Tim Walsworth, executive director of the Durango Business Improvement District, will challenge incumbent Allison Aichele for La Plata County treasurer this November.
“I’ve always worked in public service my whole career,” said Walsworth, a Democrat. “And I saw this as an opportunity to grow that.”
Aichele, also a Democrat, announced last month she will seek re-election. She was first elected to a four-year term in 2014, defeating Republican challenger Bobby Lieb in the wake of the retirement of longtime treasurer Ed Murray.
Walsworth, who was president and CEO of United Way of Southwest Colorado for 10 years before serving the last five years as executive director of BID, said the position of treasurer appealed to him to continue a career in public service.
He said his leadership skills, organized personality and ability to collaborate make him an attractive candidate to take over the management of the financial assets and liabilities of La Plata County.
“The way I see the job: You need a good staff because they’re very busy in that office,” Walsworth said. “There’s been a lot of turnover there, so something is not working right.”
On his campaign Facebook page, Walsworth pointed to procedural lapses that raise concerns about Aichele’s leadership.
The Treasurer’s Office ran into troubles in March as workload, turnover and lack of training caused the office to fall behind on tax processing. An outside review ultimately cleared the office of wrongdoing, but it found multiple procedural and bookkeeping errors in the department.
“My opponent has failed to inspire employees in the Treasurer’s office to do their best, evidenced by major turnover in the staff in the three years she has held the position,” Walsworth wrote on Facebook. “She has also not followed the procedures that govern most of the county treasurer’s work. This has resulted in a material weakness in the county’s 2016 audit. This has lead to a more extensive audit in 2017, which increases the costs to county taxpayers.”
Aichele said Thursday all the issues brought up in March 2017 were resolved by the end of that month. She said the department was understaffed and operating with outdated equipment that hadn’t been updated in years.
Since, the department hired a new employee for a total of four people in the department, and Aichele said she’s implemented seven new technology systems.
“The number of employees hadn’t changed here since the 1980s, yet the population’s more than doubled, so you need that technology,” she said.
Aichele also said that personally, she’s far more comfortable in her position.
“Now we have the people in place with the right skills and abilities, and the right technology, and there’s no backlog or turnover issues,” she said. “It’s an exciting place to work.”
Walsworth, for his part, said he has improved the BID, from policies and procedures to offering more programs in support of BID businesses.
The BID is a quasi-governmental organization that helps downtown and north Main Avenue property owners with marketing, event planning and capital improvements, he said.
“The treasurer’s position is very important in that it collects the county’s main revenue source, property taxes,” he said in a prepared statement. “I believe the county’s money can be invested better to produce a higher return, which truly helps in this time of declining county revenues.”
Two candidates of the same party running for the same treasurer seat makes it a bit of a complicated process, said Clerk and Recorder Tiffany Parker.
Candidates must receive 30 percent of the party’s assembly vote at the March 17 caucus to move onto the primary. If both receive 30 percent of the vote, they will both appear on the primary ballot in June.
If a candidate receives at least 10 percent of the assembly vote, the candidate may petition to continue to the primary. If the candidate receives less than 10 percent, he or she is eliminated from the process.
No Republicans have registered to run for treasurer as of Thursday.