What looked to be a two-way battle among Democrats for the La Plata County treasurer’s office was joined Thursday by Republican Colton Black.
Black is first vice-chair of the La Plata County Republican Party and a banker with Wells Fargo in Durango.
“This wasn’t on my radar initially,” Black said after accepting the party’s nomination. “But it was on the party’s radar, and I was approached by some folks. I was happy with what I was doing, and I had not considered a role in public service,” he said. “I couldn’t turn them down.”
The county’s drop in property tax revenue from declining natural gas production, Black said, requires a conservative, fiscally responsible hand guiding the treasurer’s office
“It is especially needed now,” he said – saying the drop in gas production has essentially left the county “broke.”
“Managing every dollar efficiently will be crucial for the next several years,” he said.
La Plata County Commissioner Brad Blake said “issues” currently exist in the county treasurer’s office headed by Treasurer Allison Aichele.
“We know we have some problems in the treasurer’s office. An indication to me comes when her own party nominated someone to run against her. That was very telling,” he said.
On Saturday, La Plata County Democrats voted to place county treasurer candidates Aichele and Tim Walsworth, who currently is executive director of Durango’s Business Improvement District, on the primary ballot during their county assembly.
Aichele garnered 105 votes, or about 66 percent, and Walsworth received 65.5 votes, about 38 percent.
The results of the 2016 audit of the treasurer’s office showed the office had improper segregation of duties.
Several GOP incumbent county officeholders were also nominated to run unopposed in the primary – sending them to the General Election on Nov. 6.
Blake, current District 1 La Plata County commissioner, said he would work to promote property rights and conservative values on the commission which is currently controlled by two Democrats, with Julie Westendorff representing District 3 and Gwen Lachelt representing District 2
District 1 covers western La Plata County, District 2 covers the central part of the county and District 3 covers the eastern part of the county. However, all La Plata County voters, no matter their district, can vote for commissioners in all three districts.
Many credited Blake for issuing warnings about excessive regulations under consideration in the recent revision of the county’s land-use code, which has been delayed after complaints of excessive regulations by county residents.
On Thursday, La Plata County notified the Texas firm that had been assisting the county on the land-use code rewrite, Kendig Keast Collaborative, that it had been fired.
Charles Hamby will be the GOP nominee for La Plata County sheriff.
Hamby promised to make an effort to provide better law enforcement services to rural residents and to avoid concentrating efforts in densely populated areas.
“I will stand by my decisions and actions. The buck will stop with me on all decisions and actions,” he said.
Hamby will square off against La Plata County Sheriff Sean Smith in November.
La Plata County Clerk and Recorder Tiffany Parker, County Coroner Jann Smith, County Surveyor Steven McCormack also received nominations to run for re-election.