Jack Turner, a fifth generation La Plata County resident, has announced he will run for La Plata County commissioner for District 2 in November 2020.
Now, both races for seats on the county commission are contested.
As of Friday, Turner, running as an unaffiliated candidate, and Marsha Porter-Norton, a Democrat, had publicly announced their candidacy for District 2, which includes Durango and nearby areas. The seat is currently held by Gwen Lachelt, a Democrat who is term-limited.
Matt Salka, the mayor of Bayfield who is Democrat, and Charly Minkler, a rancher who serves on the La Plata County Planning Commission and is unaffiliated, are running for District 3, which covers the eastern part of the county. The seat is held by Julie Westendorff, a Democrat who is also term-limited.
Turner has worked a number of jobs throughout the years, including vice president of marketing and sales at Purgatory Resort; a technical writer for a cryptocurrency trading company; marketing for ski and snowboard industry; and most recently, film and television scouting and management.
Turner, 64, said he chose run for the county commission because he wants to help bridge the perceived divide between residents in the city of Durango and those who live in the rural parts of the county.
“I want anyone who comes before the county commission to know that I’m just going to listen to what they have to say,” he said. “And I promise to be fair and innovative as best I can.”
Turner, who lives in the Riverview area, said he is not prepared to say what his priorities are should he be elected. He said he is currently in an “in-take mode” to learn what issues are most pressing for La Plata County.
“I have 13 months to do that,” he said.
Turner said he would treat the commission as a full-time job, though he would take film scouting jobs when possible if it doesn’t take away from his duties.
“Every candidate is going to say they’ll listen, but I feel I can relate to a huge spectrum of people, young and old, urban and rural, red and blue,” he said.
Porter-Norton, who has been on the campaign trail since February, said she’s held more than 40 listening sessions around the county with residents and attended numerous government meetings.
“It’s giving me a very homed-in focus and perspective on the issues people care about,” she said.
Porter-Norton also said she wants to represent all residents of the county, not just those associated with a particular political party.
“I want this race to be about local issues and improving quality of life for La Plata County,” she said. “Every time I go out, I learn we have so much more in common.”
Turner’s announcement marks the second person to run as an unaffiliated candidate. The La Plata County clerk and recorder said previously an unaffiliated candidate has never been elected as a commissioner in the county.