Sanitation demands answer from Candelaria

Jim Candelaria has until the close of business Monday, April 28 to decide whether to complete his term on the Cortez Sanitation District or continue his campaign for Montezuma County commissioner.

CSD board president Dave Waters called a special CSD board meeting on Monday, April 21, demanding Candelaria announce his decision at the 2 p.m. meeting.

"I'm still on this board," proclaimed Candelaria. "At this time, I will not resign."

A half-hour back-and-forth session ensued between Candelaria and board member John Stramel.

"The resolution is in black-and-white," countered Stramel. "You're in violation, and should be off this board."

Earlier this month, CSD board members adopted a resolution that bars current board members from holding or even seeking public office with an outside governmental agency. The resolution took effect April 15.

When the resolution was passed on April 14, Waters granted Candelaria the opportunity to discuss the matter with board attorney Jeffery Robbins of Durango. Candelaria said he had been unable to make contact with the attorney as of Monday afternoon.

"Until I reach him, nothing has changed," Candelaria said.

"I'll call the attorney, and have him contact you," Stramel replied.

"You need to decide," Stramel continued. "You have to make a choice."

Waters said Candelaria was not in compliance with the resolution, adding that board members were prepared to move forward in appointing his replacement.

"We need to have an answer within the next week," Waters said.

According to Waters, CSD board members have 60 days to select Candelaria's substitute. If CSD fails to name a replacement, Waters said county commissioners would have the authority to name a successor.

Candelaria requested a deadline of May 12, the board's next scheduled meeting. Stramel insisted that Candelaria make his choice immediately. Both were the only board members to vote in opposition Monday to the April 28th deadline.

A handful of local city and business leaders also attended Monday's special called meeting. None spoke publicly, and City Manager Shane Hale declined to comment after the proceedings.

Last week, Candelaria said he sought his own legal advice on how to proceed in response to the resolution, adding that if given an ultimatum, he would continue his campaign as county commissioner. He received the GOP nod from county delegates in March as the Republican Party's top candidate for county commissioner.

James Lambert, who successfully petitioned onto the GOP primary ballot, and William Utrup, an unaffiliated candidate, are also vying to fill Montezuma County Commissioner Steve Chappell's post, which expires later this year.

The new CSD resolution also forces board members to relinquish their post if they refuse to subscribe to an oath of office, are convicted of a felony, submit a written resignation, cease to be qualified, fail to attend three consecutive meetings without board approval; or dies.

Robbins could not be reached for immediate contact. A secretary said he was out of town until Wednesday.