Two-day stint for Palisade trustee

Jesse Loughman and his wife Desa own Colorado Alternative Healthcare, the medical marijuana dispensary in Palisade.

Palisade's top vote-getter in Tuesday's municipal election resigned as a trustee less than 48 hours later in order to keep his day job.

Jesse Loughman, owner of Palisade's only retail and medical marijuana stores, said he learned from officials with the state's Marijuana Enforcement Division that he could not act as a town trustee while holding marijuana licenses for the town. Loughman submitted his resignation as a trustee on Thursday afternoon immediately after the notification, he said.

Palisade trustees are the licensing authority for the town's marijuana businesses and a trustee cannot hold a marijuana license, according to the law.

"I can't give up five marijuana licenses to sit on the board," Loughman said.

Loughman received 243 votes, the most votes of all 10 candidates, who were vying for four seats.

He was also elected by fellow trustees as mayor pro-tem Tuesday night, or the person who takes on mayoral duties in the mayor's absence.

Mayor Roger Granat said he contacted the candidate with the next most votes, Jessica Bonds, who said she would be willing to serve on the board.

Granat said the issue over whether Loughman would be able to serve on the town board never occurred to any number of town officials, including the town's attorney, Ed Sands.

"It's unfortunate that the state law prohibits it," Granat said. "We've all had a learning experience."

Granat said he's especially disappointed in the outcome because Loughman was truly excited and interested in running for the town board.

Loughman is a regular audience member at Palisade's town meetings. He joked Thursday that the chairs are more comfortable behind the dais.

"I do hold the record of being the shortest actual elected official," he said.

The three new trustees were sworn in at the tail end of Tuesday night's meeting, after several public hearings. Trustee Susan L'Hommedieu was re-elected.

One of those hearings by the former board included approval of a conditional-use permit to allow operations of a second retail marijuana store, Happy Camper.

Loughman said he previously attended an orientation for trustee candidates that contained information about how and when trustees should recuse themselves from votes. He planned on recusing himself from future marijuana business matters.

"If anybody should have known this, it should have been me," Loughman said about the law.

Loughman said he was pleased to vote on one issue involving road construction improvements for Iowa Avenue, a project that was a long time coming.

Interim Town Administrator Lindsey Chitwood said she felt "horrible" about the turn of events.

"It really is unfortunate," she said. "He's been such a great citizen."

The issue is unique because the town normally wouldn't investigate a candidate's occupation to determine if they qualify to serve on the town board.

For example, outgoing trustee Bennett Price is the owner of De Beque Canyon Winery. As a trustee he also represented the town's liquor license authority.

Normally the town board would open up a mid-term vacant position to applicants and appoint a trustee. But because this issue surfaced so soon after Tuesday's election, the town board can choose to appoint Bonds, who received 207 votes.

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