Going over a mail-in ballot at the kitchen table, there is no box for “both.” Democracy requires a yes or no, one candidate or the other, and that’s the approach The Durango Herald’s editorial board has always taken in its endorsements. But not in this race.
In the choice for La Plata County Commissioner from District 2, both Jack Turner and Marsha Porter-Norton are exceptionally strong candidates, each with their own significant strengths. Each would add immensely to the successful governance of La Plata County.
This editorial board is comfortable, more than comfortable, with either candidate.
After a coin toss, here first is why the board likes Marsha Porter-Norton.
Both Porter-Norton’s leadership and consulting work in Southwest Colorado have put her in touch with all the government and quasi-government organizations in the county. Two of her high points were the annual Operation Healthy Community research and reports that she led several years ago, which offered an imaginative and full study of the county’s strengths and needs, and facilitating the Hermosa Creek Workgroup. The latter, which involved a large number of disparate groups, some of which were not used to taking to one another, resulted in federal legislation to protect an environmentally rich, free-flowing river corridor.
And Porter-Norton has been the go-to facilitator for other long-lived initiatives and projects, and won awards for serving multiple organizations. She is approachable and a good listener.
Porter-Norton is fourth generation in Montezuma County, growing up in a ranching family that advocated for the good use of water and a stronger community. She is a graduate of CSU and the University of Denver.
Jack Turner, the fifth-generation member of a La Plata County family, has ranged farther afield. A top-quality skier who began at Chapman Hill, he was a member of the U.S. Ski Team as an athlete, coach and administrator. He has organized sports events and delivered sports commentary on national television. He was a vice president at Purgatory Resort and most recently gave longtime local families visibility in Durango Native Studies. He has a business degree from the University of Colorado.
By bicycle as well as car, Turner has covered the streets and roads of the county, introducing himself. What a learning experience the race has been, he says.
Turner is running unaffiliated, having acquired more than a thousand signatures to make the ballot. Not a Republican as some charge, Turner does not appear to see a political party designation on anyone’s lapel. He says he will work for everyone, avoiding any political favoritism. Fewer than half his contributors are Republicans.
Turner has been described as a friendly grenade-thrower in speculating about possible changes. He sees county needs from a few thousand feet, suggesting the possibility of shared fleet purchases and services, and perhaps a human resources department. More sharing, with its efficiencies and cost cutting, ought to be possible, he says.
Most appealing about Turner, The Herald’s editorial board agrees, is that he will give those who are not Democrats more comfortable access to county government. Whether real of imagined, Republicans have felt excluded in recent years as party registrations favor, to an increasing degree, the unaffiliated and Democrats.
So, you choose. Either Marsha Porter-Norton or Jack Turner would be very good for La Plata County.