Structure dilutes Club 20’s mission, Gunnison County says in quitting

The structure of Club 20, allowing governmental members and individual members one vote, fundamentally dilutes the mission of the Western Slope advocacy group, Gunnison County has written in a letter explaining why it is leaving the organization.

“Governments are accountable to their citizens,” according to the letter, which Club 20 received this week. “Individuals who can simply buy their way onto your organization’s board are not.”

The commissioners voted to draft and send the letter during a Dec. 15 special session.

Reeves Brown, Club 20’s executive director, said he was aware of the letter, which arrived at his office earlier in the week.

Brown said Club 20’s membership structure — one member, one vote — has been in place for decades. He said it is fairly common for a county commission to withhold dues for various reasons, financial or political, though he could not recall the last time a county commission pulled out of the organization.

Gunnison County Commissioner Paula Swenson, who represented the county at
Club 20, could not be reached for comment for this story.

Gunnison County is not the first member of the Western Slope organization to protest its policies this year.

San Miguel County Commissioner Art Goodtimes left the organization in April after he was ousted from a leadership position this year. In announcing his departure, Goodtimes lambasted the organization, saying it had become dominated by oil and gas industry advocates.

Brown said similar sentiments could have been at play in Gunnison County’s decision, particularly concerning the group’s opposition to a severance tax increase on the ballot, but it was not mentioned in the county’s letter.

“We certainly will never agree with every county every time. … For every issue we don’t agree on, there’s another 25 we do,” Brown said.


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