County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt, almost a year and a half into her second term, is under attack. Her critics accuse her of being too green in opposition to the fossil fuel industry, and of being absent engaging on the regional and national scene rather than being fully involved at home. And for good measure, they blame her for the heavy-handed update of the county land-use code. Their solution: recall.
Recall petition signatures have to be submitted by the end of next week.
The Herald’s editorial board says that recall, which includes multiple administrative steps over a couple of months and the cost of a special election, is not the solution. For those who think Lachelt is not doing the job she should be, she will be out of office at the end of 2020; she is term limited.
Lachelt has contributed to what makes La Plata County an appealing place to live, partly by advocating for surface owners who faced drilling companies which were not initially willing to compromise. She played a role by defending county regulations and in bringing surface owners’ plight to the attention of elected officials and the regulatory commission. As a result, La Plata County developed a respectful relationship with the energy companies.
Meeting attendance can be counted in different ways, with some meetings being more significant than others. But, during her almost six years in office, Lachelt’s attendance at the main commissioner meetings is comparable to that of her fellow commissioners.
Lachelt has always been accessible and willing to listen. Rather than support the recall, reach out to her during public sessions to voice constructive complaints.
The recall is a distraction, and county residents should instead move on to spend time and energy on more specific issues, like getting involved, as many have, in district plan and the land-use code update.
HHHAllison Aichele, La Plata County’s treasurer, received criticism from an unusual direction at last weekend’s Democratic Party Assembly. County Commissioner Julie Westendorff, with the microphone, reminded her fellow party members of the well-reported administrative mis-steps in the treasurer’s office which occurred more than a year ago when the office was short-handed. Westendorff, in effect, was endorsing Tim Walsworth, who will be challenging Aichele in the June 26 primary.
A third party review of the treasurer’s office had found some missed procedures, but no tax receipts were recorded improperly or lost.
The elected officials in the county have to work together, whether they are the assessor, sheriff, clerk or commissioners. Or, the treasurer, surveyor and coroner. Public criticism of one another to further a challenger’s campaign does no good. The proper politicking is coming from Walsworth, who has brought up the condition that existed in the office and likely will again. And, so might a Republican challenger if one surfaces.
In the meantime, Aichele has another eight months remaining in her term. And, she may succeed in being re-elected. Tension among elected office holders, exacerbated by public statements in the political arena, does the county and its residents no good.
Editor’s note: This editorial has been updated to reflect the correct date for the primary which will take place on June 26.