Candidates for La Plata County coroner, assessor, surveyor, and clerk and recorder are running unopposed in the November election.
The Durango Herald asked unopposed candidates to outline their accomplishments in office and what goals they expect to accomplish during their next terms.
Clerk and recorderLa Plata County Clerk and Recorder Tiffany Parker said she plans to advocate for changes to state law to make the recall election process more straight forward in Colorado.
The complexities of Colorado’s recall process was on full display this summer during a recall effort against La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt.
Parker plans to work with Democrats and Republicans to eliminate the additional 15 days that petitioners receive to collect signatures if they don’t turn in enough signatures to trigger an election, she said. She also plans to advocate for counties to be given the authority to verify petitioners’ signatures. As it is now, only the state can verify signatures on petitions, she said.
She would also like to give counties the authority to change the voting status of residents from inactive to active if they sign recall petitions, she said. As it is now, inactive voters can provide a valid signature on a petition, but they would not receive a ballot to vote in the election because of their inactive status, she said. A voter is classified as inactive if the Clerk and Recorder’s Office attempts to send the individual mail and it is returned as undeliverable, she said.
Parker said she successfully advocated for a change to the election process that was approved by the Legislature in 2013. She testified before the Legislature in favor of House Bill 13-1303, a measure that ensured every active registered voter receives a mail-in ballot, eliminated voter-registration deadlines and set standards for the voter service and polling centers for counties, she said.
She has also worked with her staff to keep the wait times for vehicle registration services to one of the lowest in the state, she said.
The clerk’s office is responsible for election administration, recording real property transactions, issuing marriage licenses and vehicle registrations and titles.
CoronerCoroner Jann Smith said she plans to work with La Plata County commissioners on a new county morgue that may be located in the old section of the La Plata County Jail.
A new facility would consolidate the office’s operations because currently, bodies must be transported from Smith’s office in Bodo Industrial Park to Hood Mortuary on East Third Avenue for autopsies.
The number of deaths being handled by the Coroner’s Office is increasing about 10 percent per year, or about 15 to 20 calls per year, making a dedicated morgue necessary, she said.
“It is becoming more of a priority,” she said.
The county has not designated funding for the project, and no timeline has been established for creating more space for a morgue, she said.
During the last six years, the Coroner’s Office has expanded from two staff members to four staff members to handle the additional demands.
The coroner is responsible for establishing the cause and manner of death in certain cases.
Smith was appointed coroner in 2012 and later elected in 2014. She also serves as the coroner for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. Before assuming the office, Smith served as the deputy coroner for 28 years.
AssessorCarrie Woodson, a 40-year resident of La Plata County, is running unopposed to replace La Plata County Assessor Craig Larson, who has served 32 years in the position.
The Assessor’s Office values property, including oil and gas assets, to determine the amount of property tax owed.
Woodson has worked in the office for about 20 years, including 17 years as the chief appraiser overseeing eight staff members and working with members of the public to appraise property.
Her experience and work with the public has helped lay the foundation for her candidacy and the responsibilities she will take on, she said.
“I just feel like that’s how I’ve sowed the seeds of being the assessor,” she said.
Before joining the Assessor’s Office, Woodson worked in construction, property management and as a licensed real estate agent. She is also a certified general appraiser.
She doesn’t have any major changes planned for the office, and she anticipates a smooth transition when she takes office.
SurveyorSteve McCormack is running unopposed for a two-year term as county surveyor.
The surveyor represents the county during boundary disputes and notifies La Plata County commissioners of boundary discrepancies.
The surveyor also files surveys, field notes, calculations, maps and any other records involving work authorized and financed by county commissioners.
McCormack was appointed to the office on an interim basis in August 2015 after former county surveyor Larry Connolly died. He was elected to the office in 2016 and held the office previously between 1986 and 1992 and was appointed to finish a term in 1996.
McCormack could not be reached for comment on the upcoming election.