Recall will not bring oil & gas back

To the editor,

Looks like the La Plata County Republicans are at it again. After trying (and failing) to remove State Rep. Mike McLachlan from office with an ill-conceived recall effort in 2013, they are now trying the same dubious tactic on County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt. While they are permitted by the State Constitution, recalls should only be used in extreme cases of gross misconduct or ethics violations, neither of which Lachelt has committed. A recall is not meant to be an election do-over. Voters shouldn’t be allowed to remove a democratically elected official simply because they don’t like her policy positions.

Gwen was elected twice by residents, and her history as an environmental advocate was well documented. She testified before Congress about the BLM Methane Rule well before the 2016 election. If this action was so controversial or somehow disqualifying, residents had every opportunity to remove her then. The fact is, the majority of voters value Lachelt’s positions on the environment and public health. Republicans also need to understand that removing one commissioner is not going to magically restore oil and gas development to La Plata County.

And the timing of this announcement is more than a little curious. Some residents, particularly in the rural parts of the county, have worked themselves into a ridiculous frenzy about the Land Use Code revision. Apparently, these people believe putting another Republican on the Board of County Commissioners would result in a more palatable code (or, ideally, no updated code at all). The irrational fear of a new land use planning document is driving this absurd recall petition. Not coincidentally, this recall effort began shortly after Americans for Prosperity Colorado, a Koch Brothers-funded group, opened an office in Durango.

Republicans could not remove Gwen by election, so they are turning to this backchannel scheme to accomplish what they couldn’t pull off in 2016. This recall is nothing but a thinly veiled coup attempt by extremist Republicans in the county. Please do not sign this misguided recall petition. This underhanded process is the opposite of democracy.

– John Wickersham, Durango