An inconvenient political truth

To the editor,

Democrat Chair Carol Cure was correct in pointing out that my opponent in the race for La Plata County Commissioner, Marsha Porter Norton, has worked hard for many years in the community and within the ranks of the Democrat party. So I apologize for my misstatement that she is a “hand-picked” candidate.

The correct explanation is that her nomination was arranged between her and party insiders like Cure. The day that Porter Norton announced her candidacy, Feb. 9, 2019 (nearly two years ahead of the election) she was already endorsed by the sitting county commissioners, a circumstance that could only be arranged ahead of time and a pre-emptive move against any contenders in her own party.  

While it’s technically possible that another Democrat could have entered the race, an arranged nomination makes it impossible to find out. No alternatives were offered in party caucuses, and only Marsha appeared on the primary ballot. This type of arrangement is standard practice by political parties. The insiders have worked for many years to be … THE insiders.

Contrast the political party nomination practices to the citizen-oriented process for Charly Minkler and me to be on the ballot. More than a thousand people from all walks of life, all parties and all regions of La Plata County signed petitions for our nominations. Given the pandemic restrictions and safety precautions, it was a heroic effort on behalf of the citizens, volunteers and the candidates. It was costly in time, effort and finances – expenses that party candidates never face and never will.

Pointing out these facts about traditional party politics is not negative campaigning or petty. It’s a real issue to voters across the country and here in La Plata County.  Whereas Independents were once viewed as fringe voters, they are now in the majority and have viable candidates. Even better is that Democrats and Republicans can vote for Independent candidates without defecting to their traditional opponents.

All four commissioner candidates agree that the function of county governance should be nonpartisan, but the party candidates engage in partisan campaign tactics to get there. Matt Salka (District 3 commissioner candidate) admitted he changed registration from unaffiliated to Democrat because he thinks it’s the only way to get support and win a race. Porter Norton declared me to be a closet Republican because the DEM-REP acrimony is something that party candidates count on to win elections. She knows I’ve never been a registered Republican.

My website,, has a fact check about partisan politics in our local elections and a partial list of the ways that the two major parties created advantages for themselves in election laws (see “Videos & Position Papers”).

Alternatively, Independent candidates don’t owe any political party favors. We offer a nonpartisan, common-sense, fair approach to La Plata County government without favor or obligation to any special interest. I believe that a nonpartisan, inclusive approach to the election is the best way to serve a community the size of La Plata County.  

There are four qualified, remarkable, talented persons running for two seats on the La Plata County commission, not just two. Voters have a choice on Nov. 3 that isn’t a traditional pick-between-the­-two-major-parties contest. We live in interesting times, eh?

– Jack Turner, Independent candidate, La Plata County Commissioner (Dist. 2)