Election lawsuit filed

Sanitation board candidate alleges residency violation

A candidate in the 2012 Cortez Sanitation District Board of Directors election has sued an election official alleging another candidate is not eligible to run.

Don Etnier, 62, filed suit earlier this month against attorney/election official George Buck Jr., alleging Buck should not have approved another candidate, Jim Candelaria as an eligible elector.

According to a complaint filed by Etnier, Candelaria acquired property within the district the same day as his self-nomination form for candidacy was filed. Etnier alleged this is in violation of state law which states no person should acquire property within a special district to attempt to qualify for a district election.

In a letter to Etnier dated March 29, Buck stated he spoke with Candelaria and could not establish that the transfer of property was for that sole purpose.

In a written response filed April 13, Buck admitted to the allegations, but filed a counterclaim alleging Etnier attempted to run for the position in 2010, but was determined to be ineligible because he did not reside within the district or own property within the district.

Buck further states that Etnier then had property within the district transferred to his name and again filed a self-nomination form in January of that year. Etnier was deemed eligible and went on to lose the 2010 election.

Lastly, Buck states that David Kimble, a candidate for a two-year seat on the board, also recently acquired property within the district. He requested the court find all candidates eligible for election.

The court has not yet issued a ruling in the case.

Three candidates are running for two four-year seats on the board, including Candelaria, Etnier and incumbent John Stramel.

Kimble is running uncontested for a two-year seat on the board.

The election is set for May 8.

Reach Reid Wright at reidw@cortezjournal.com