During last Wednesday’s meeting of the Milliken Town Board of Trustees 3 of the 4 elected officials were sworn into office. Trustee-elect Rachael Dugan resigned her position earlier that week to apply for a full-time job with the town leaving an open position on the board.
Discussion on the matter occurred during the earlier work session. Mayor Woodcock wanted the outgoing board to fill the position with the candidate who got the next highest amount of votes, which would have been Leron Ehrlich. Instead, trustee Elizabeth Austin made an argument that this should be an issue for the new board. Austin’s argument was supported by town attorney Linda Michow and ultimately the board decided to table the matter until the next board meeting.
Surprisingly, Colorado state law does not address this particular situation. The closest law states that when someone withdrawals from an election 45 days before the election window, a town board or committee assigned by the board is to fill the position. If that candidate withdraws from the race and gets enough votes to win office, the next highest vote getter does not automatically replace that candidate. The law also does not address which board, outgoing or incoming holds the legal right to make the replacement.
Austin’s motive for pushing the board to table the appointment became very apparent after the formal meeting was adjourned. After the meeting was over and most of the audience and reporters left the meeting room, an improper and illegal meeting was held by four of the trustees. The meeting was in direct violation of the Colorado Open Meetings Law.
Former Trustee Linda Measner stayed behind and witnessed the improper meeting. Mrs. Measner said, “It became very apparent that Mrs. Austin wants to appoint her friend Nicole Rodriguez to the board.”
Nicole Rodriguez finished sixth in voting behind Leron Ehrlich, who is clearly the choice of the voters. Austin stood in defiance of the voters when she voted to approve the sale of marijuana in town, now she wants to disregard their voices again.