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Election Petitions may already be circulating

Sidebar by Ed Quillen

Water Politics – February 2002 – Colorado Central Magazine

In recent years, there have been only two water conservancy districts which have held elections, and both are in Central Colorado.

Elections were held in 1999 and 2000 in the Upper Gunnison River WCD (basically, the river basin above Blue Mesa Dam). In 2001, there was an election in the Upper Arkansas WCD (Chaffee, Custer, and western Frémont counties).

Conservancy district directors are almost always appointed by district court judges, but state law does allow an election upon a petition to the court signed by 10% of the registered voters within a division of a district.

The petition must be submitted 90 days before the director’s term expires. The date is different in each district, because it is determined by the district’s incorporation date.

It’s likely that there will be more elections this year in both districts, since those who have petitioned in the past are planning to do so again.

Based in Crested Butte, the High Country Citizens Alliance has decided to petition every time a seat comes up in the Upper Gunnison River WCD.

This year, four terms expire on June 24, and HCCA plans to petition for elections for all of them. There is one seat from Division 7, West Gunnison River, now held by Jim Cochran; a seat from Division 6, Ohio Creek, held by William Trampe; and two seats from Division 8, the City of Gunnison, held by Ruth Willey and Dennis Steckel. Divisions on the Upper Gunnison are mostly based on drainages.

Upper Arkansas divisions follow school-district boundaries. Three terms expire on June 1: Division 2, Salida school district, Wendell Hutchinson; Division 3, Buena Vista school district, Frank McMurry; Division 4, Custer County, Robert Donley.

As it did last year, Upper Arkansas Citizens for Water Integrity will circulate petitions for elections.

Mark Emmer of Salida, speaking for Citizens, said they plan to circulate petitions for electing at least the two Chaffee County seats, “and we’re hoping we can meet soon with some Custer County citizens who are interested in bringing some democracy to our water district.”

–Ed Quillen