Incumbent La Plata County Treasurer Allison Aichele appears to have possibly off challenger Colton Black, according to the final vote count released early Wednesday morning.
With about 28,500 votes counted as of 12:12 a.m., Aichele had 13,670 votes. Challenger Colton Black had 13,485 votes. That’s a difference of 50.34 percent to 49.66 percent, or 185 votes.
Aichele and Black did not return calls seeking comment early Wednesday morning.
La Plata County Clerk Tiffany Parker said there are still military ballots to take into account, as well as verifying some ballots with signature discrepancies. As a result, close races hold the potential to change. Official results won’t be known until Nov. 14, she said.
The race to be La Plata County’s next treasurer was one of the most heated campaigns in this year’s election.
For months, Black called out performance issues within the Treasurer’s Office during Aichele’s tenure.
After longtime treasurer Ed Murray retired in 2014, Aichele beat Bobby Lieb to become the county’s first new treasurer in 28 years.
In March 2017, however, Aichele approached the Board of County Commissioners with concerns her office had run afoul of a number of statutes and asked permission to hire a new employee to fix the problem.
The Board of County Commissioners approved the new employee but also hired an outside firm to review the Treasurer’s Office at a cost of about $12,500.
The results, released in May 2017, found rampant errors in processes and bookkeeping. But despite the errors, the review found no evidence of wrongdoing or missing funds.
Over the course of the next year, Aichele claimed all issues in the office had been resolved. But a follow-up review in June found many lingering issues that put the county at a high risk of fraud.
As a result, the county is a “high risk auditee,” which will require the county to pay more for audits for the next three years. The county paid an additional $16,000 for the 2017 audit and an expected $16,500 for this year’s audit.
These issues drove Black, a local banker at Wells Fargo, to run, he said in a previous interview.
During the campaign, Black said his top priority was to fix the problems identified in the outside reviews.
Black has worked as a senior-level banker at Wells Fargo since 2013. He has said his eight years of direct financial experience in banking and investing, as well as four professional investment and security licenses, would help him correct problems at the office.
Aichele, for her part, chalked up the issues at the office to a personal learning curve on the job, work overload and lack of proper staffing.
She has said over the campaign season that she brought innovative, new technology to an outdated Treasurer’s Office.