Weld County oversight board members see potential pitfalls in charter review process | MyWindsorNow.com

Weld County oversight board members see potential pitfalls in charter review process

Tyler Silvy
tsilvy@greeleytribune.com

Weld County Council members: Back row, from left: Charles Tucker, Jordan Jemiola. Front row, from left: Gene Stille, Brett Abernathy, Mike Grillos.

Anxiety surrounding a Weld County Charter review committee, and whether its recommendations would be fairly evaluated by county commissioners dominated discussion Monday among members of a county oversight board.

The concerns of members of the Weld County Council, a county oversight board charged with reviewing all aspects of county government, come down to math. The Charter Review Committee, tasked with reviewing the county charter and recommending changes, will be asked to present recommendations July 23, giving the Board of Weld County Commissioners time to place any necessary changes on the November ballot for voter approval.

If the committee recommends something unpalatable to commissioners, Councilman Brett Abernathy said, then commissioners could simply nix the idea, leaving little time for people to petition changes onto the ballot in 2018.

Petitions, due 75 days before the election Nov. 6, would be due just a month after committee recommendations are made to commissioners.

"If we see the charter review committee come back with a recommendation, and it's not put on the ballot by the commissioners, that would basically negate the ability to put it on the ballot for this year," Abernathy said. "So basically, whatever the charter review committee is doing, whatever is being done for the council should be handled through the petition process."

Abernathy's concern comes from a place of documented distrust. Four of the five Weld County commissioners voted this past fall to place the County Council's fate on the November 2017 ballot, and commissioners campaigned heavily to get rid of the council.

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For Abernathy, it's natural to assume any committee recommendations benefiting the council — recommendations like giving the council its own budget — would immediately be nixed by commissioners.

"It's a decision of those four individuals," Abernathy said.

Councilman Jordan Jemiola recommended the council seek monthly updates from the charter review committee, and pitch council member ideas at those meetings.

Abernathy and Council Chairman Gene Stille agreed with Jemiola's suggestion. Just three of five County Council members were present at Monday's meeting. Stille, citing the diverse makeup of the committee — nine individuals from throughout the county — said the council should withhold judgement.

"There comes a point in time to have trust in the committee and the commissioners that they're going to look out for the constituents," Stille said.

— Tyler Silvy covers government and politics for The Greeley Tribune. Reach him at tsilvy@greeleytribune.com. Connect with him at Facebook.com/TylerSilvy or @TylerSilvy on Twitter.

Charter Review Committee

The Weld County Charter Review Committee was put together by the Board of Weld County Commissioners after interview with more than 30 applicants. The committee consists of nine members from various parts of the county.

Committee members: Jackie Johnson, Greeley, chairwoman; Al Dominguez, Windsor, vice chairman; Dave Kisker, Johnstown; Mark Lawley, Eaton; Raymond Patch, Greeley; Justus Pettit, Pierce; Garrett Varra, Longmont; James Welch, LaSalle; and Sam Gluck, LaSalle; were appointed Monday, and will begin gathering public input, reviewing the charter and proposing suggested changes to commissioners.