A difference of opinion between the previous and new board members of the Animas Fire Protection Districts board of directors led to a stalemate on the appointment of the fifth member of the board Tuesday night.
Unable to agree on either an individual or even the process to be used for selection, the four-member board voted to ask the La Plata County commissioners to resolve the dilemma for them.
The seat is vacant at a critical time. The district is currently working out a mediation agreement with a new funding formula with its partners, the city of Durango and Hermosa Cliff Fire Protection District, in the Durango Fire & Rescue Authority.
After the last meeting, I listened to constituents and the people who voted for me, and they all wanted Joe Lloyd to be appointed, said Kathleen Morris, who won her seat in a May 8 election that had nine candidates vying for three seats. He only had 33 less votes than Bud Deering, and I think the voters have spoken very clearly.
Matt Leeder, who was the top vote-getter in the election agreed.
With the huge turnout we had, I think its our duty to listen to that, he said.
Both felt the election results should be taken into account because it took place so recently.
Deering, who was re-elected in May, and sitting member Bill Warren disagreed. Warren said that would be similar to saying that if the elected president had to step down, then Ron Paul should assume the presidency, because he was also on the ballot.
Im looking at a broader picture, Deering said. What are their qualifications? Have they served on boards? Do they understand budgets? Do they understand special districts?
Warren also worried about both real and perceived conflicts of interest with people who lived in the district, which surrounds the city of Durango, but own businesses in Durango such as Lloyd, who owns four coffee shops.
And there are a lot of good people in this community who would like to come forward but dont find campaigning their cup of tea, he said.
After both Lloyd and Tony Whittle, who was not re-elected on May 8, were voted down on a two-two split, the group also could not agree on advertising the position and interviewing candidates. Warren, Morris and Leeder voted to inform the county commissioners of the impasse and ask them to resolve it, with Deering abstaining.
Theres no legal reason we have to take someone just because they fell a few votes short, he said. By sending it to the county commissioners, youve made it into the biggest political football you could.
About 15 people attended, but they were not allowed to speak until the decision had been reached.
Im shocked at the process here, said Jack Llewellyn, the executive director of the Durango Chamber of Commerce, who lives in the district. The polarization in the district is up there. To throw out that its conflict of interest to live in the county and work or own businesses in the city is appalling. Thats what the majority of people do.
Jody Hayden mentioned the March 20th meeting, where the board voted unanimously to delay filling Jim Barretts seat until after the election, where the implication was the board was waiting to see the results and the direction the voters wanted to see the district take.
The voters said they want change and want to move in a more positive direction, Dave Strobel said.