GarCo’s Houpt fighting proposal on boards

Garfield County Commissioner Tresi Houpt hopes to fend off a proposal that she says would limit her ability to represent her constituents on energy and other issues.

Houpt is objecting to a proposal by fellow Commissioner John Martin that seeks to compel commissioners to represent the majority view of the commission while participating on various boards and commissions, such as Club 20 and Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado.

“I don’t think we need to be trying to limit each other by adopting this resolution,” Houpt said when the proposal came up for consideration last week.

Martin says the point is to make commissioners more accountable, particularly in connection with board roles that involve spending county money.

“What it amounts to is I’m trying to get everybody to play on the same page,” Martin said.

The only Democrat on the Garfield County Commission, Houpt worries her viewpoint might be muffled because the proposal threatens removal from boards for noncompliance.

“I am elected on an equal plane, and it’s important that our hands aren’t tied as elected officials,” she said.

Martin said commissioners can speak as individuals, but when they take positions it’s important they speak for the commission majority because the majority rules. Houpt said she doesn’t disagree with that and always is careful to pass along to boards what the county’s position is on issues. She said she sometimes also may voice a differing view but makes clear it’s a minority position.

Houpt thinks Martin’s proposal has its origins in some past controversies, such as one several years ago involving the National Association of Counties. That group’s members are allowed to bring resolutions as individuals, without representing counties, Houpt said.

She said she wanted to offer resolutions aimed at reducing oil and gas development’s impacts on public lands, and Martin and former Commissioner Larry McCown refused to let county funds be used to pay for her trip to Hawaii to present the resolutions at a conference.

She paid for the trip herself and the measures were adopted.

Commissioners — including new Commissioner Mike Samson — last week put off action on Martin’s proposal. Instead, they agreed to meet today to talk further about participation on boards and commissions.

Last week’s meeting was attended by several people who have supported Houpt’s minority stance on issues, including Glenwood Springs City Council member Russ Arensman.

“I’m hoping that the commissioners will respect that minority position,” he said.


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