Forest Lakes residents chose to stick with the incumbents in its most recent election for the neighborhood’s metro district after a few contentious months leading up to this week’s vote.
Three seats were up for grabs this year, which drew considerable attention from La Plata County’s largest subdivision with about 840 homes, about 6 miles north of Bayfield.
Three candidates banded together to unseat two of the board’s incumbents (and a new candidate that sided with the current board), arguing the metro district hasn’t been transparent and has been slacking in its responsibilities.
The neighborhood’s residents, apparently, didn’t agree.
The two incumbents – Brien Meyer and Charles Scavo – won easily with 272 votes and 226 votes, respectively, in Tuesday’s election. The new candidate that sided with the current board, Tony Schrier, tallied 226 votes.
The three challengers fell far short: Marie Thai, 81 votes; Denis Stratford, 62 votes; and Myron Tolf, 43 votes.
A total of 329 people voted, the metro district reported.
“These agendas these three people had obviously weren’t the agendas of the neighbors,” said Casey Cook, the metro board president. “That’s why everyone turned out.”
The metro district staff and board have maintained that operations over the years have been transparent, and that the operating cost for the district is in line with a subdivision of its size. The three challengers stirred up the neighborhood, Cook said, on baseless claims that the metro district wasn’t doing its job.
“My takeaway is the good people are always quiet, but when something’s really important for them, that’s when they turn out,” Cook said. “We had a (voter) turnout we’ve never had before; it’s just a shame it always has to be so ugly.”
Brian Sheffield, manager for the Forest Lakes Metro District, said in a previous interview that much of the criticism that the neighborhood is stagnant stems from Forest Lakes not having a homeowners association.
The Forest Lakes HOA, in fact, dissolved in 2009 after a legal battle with Tolf.
Stratford said Friday the challengers were able to raise awareness to issues in the community, even though they came up short.
“I think the issues we were bringing up are such a foreign concept to most of the people, and they made it clear they’ll stay with things the way they are – even though there’s been mismanagement of funds and general mismanagement,” Stratford said. “That will take a long time for people to be coaxed into the world of reality.”