Incumbent La Plata County Treasurer Allison Aichele won Tuesday’s Democratic primary, beating challenger Tim Walsworth.
La Plata County Clerk & Recorder Tiffany Parker said Tuesday evening that the race for treasurer, the only contested race in the county, could be called.
As of 9:30 p.m., a total of 10,700 ballots had been counted for both the Democratic and Republican primaries. In the Democratic primary, Aichele received 3,933 votes to Walsworth’s 2,092, a difference of about 65 percent to 35 percent.
“This is a non-political job,” Aichele said Tuesday night at a Democratic gathering at the Strater Hotel. “It’s a technological job that’s legally complex. And all I want to do is what’s good for the community.”
Aichele will now go onto the November election to face Republican candidate Colton Black, who did not have a challenger in the Republican primary.
According to state records, Aichele had spent about $1,680 in her bid for re-election. Walsworth spent about $3,370 to unseat the incumbent.
Money raised for this campaign was either from private donations or self-funded.
The treasurer is responsible for collecting and distributing county revenues and collecting property taxes, with the office essentially operating as the bank for La Plata County.
Aichele was first elected treasurer in 2014, beating Republican challenger Bobby Lieb, in the wake of the retirement of longtime treasurer Ed Murray.
During her time as treasurer, Aichele has said she turned around an office that lacked proper training and operated on outdated technology.
In March 2017, however, issues surfaced at the Treasurer’s Office under Aichele’s watch, when an independent review found rampant errors and inconsistencies in the office’s processing and bookkeeping.
The cost to the county for additional audit fees to look into the situation last year cost $12,500. Despite finding numerous errors, the audit found no evidence of wrongdoing. The county was forced to budget more money for its audit this year because of issues at the office.
Walsworth cautioned voters that these mishaps should give voters pause, but Aichele has contended she fixed these issues. An audit for 2017 to be released Wednesday should shed more light on whether problems at the office have been corrected over the past year.
The Durango Herald requested this audit multiple times before the Tuesday primary from La Plata County and was denied.
In recent weeks, Walsworth touted his experience as president and CEO of United Way of Southwest Colorado for 10 years and executive director for the Durango Business Improvement District for the last five years.
“I want to thank the people who voted for me and supported me,” he said at the watch party Tuesday night. “I congratulate my opponent for winning the primary election.”
Jean Walter, La Plata County Democratic Party chairwoman, said she was pleased at the campaigns the two candidates ran.
“It was very positive and forward looking for the best for La Plata County,” she said.
Black is a former vice chairman of the La Plata County Republican Party and a banker with Wells Fargo in Durango.
Tuesday’s primary was the first in which unaffiliated voters, the state’s largest voting bloc, could participate in one or the other of the major party primaries. A voter-passed initiative in 2016 allows Colorado’s 1.2 million active independent voters to cast ballots.