by Marissa Lorenz
The Grand County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) concluded discussion this week about how to fill the temporary vacancy of County Treasurer/Public Trustee and determined to appoint the Deputy Treasurer/Chief Deputy Public Trustee to the position.
The upcoming vacancy became an issue when long-time elected official Christina Whitmer submitted a letter of resignation just prior to Memorial Day, which named July 2, 2020, as her last day as Grand County Treasurer/Public Trustee.
Guidance from County Attorney Chris Leahy explained that, with more than four months until the next election, Colorado statute requires county commissioners to appoint an interim treasurer, but that the position would be up for election at the next general election, in this case, November of this year.
Commissioner Rich Cimino initially indicated a desire to take applications for the position and appoint someone from the Republican Party, as Whitmer is a registered Republican, but the Deputy Treasurer of 16 years, Teri Tanton, is a registered Democrat. He stated that it was “the will of the voters– in 2018, they did elect from a certain party. I’m leaning towards appointing a person from the same party. That’s my preference.”
However, Commissioners Merrit Linke and Kristen Manguso noted the short duration of the interim appointment and expressed a greater desire for continuity in the office. “How much time and effort do we put into appointing someone who may only be there for four months?” Linke asked last week.
After more research, Leahy noted that there were similar instances in which commissioners just did not appoint anyone for elected vacancies of short duration and where the deputy then performed the duties. Linke and Manguso seemed amenable to this solution as well. But Cimino stated that “I would rather not have any public perception that the Board shirked its duty. Let’s appoint that person. That way it’s clean.”
Linke agreed, saying, “that meets my goal of maintaining continuity in that office. (…) It seems like it would be the right thing to do to appoint the Deputy as Acting Treasurer.”
For her part, Tanton states that she will accept the appointment, “Though nothing has been made official yet, I was happy to hear of the BOCC’s decision to appoint me as interim Treasurer. I believe that this is the best choice, andI am confident that, with the current staff of Rannette Bakke, Janette Fudge, and myself, we will make this transition as seamless as possible.”
“I am saddened to see Christina Whitmer leave as she has made many strides for the betterment of the Treasurer’s office, but
I’m excited for the challenge of filling her shoes in the interim.”
Tanton indicates that she will also run for the office in November. The individual elected in the fall will serve out Whitmer’s original term and the position will be up for election again in 2022.
by Marissa Lorenz