Who’ll be our next chairman?
He says if the chairmanship of the board doesn’t rotate to him next year, it would be an example of his colleagues trying to “micromanage” the county.Although it isn’t a requirement, the chairmanship has rotated in the past 20 years among the commissioners representing Eagle County’s three districts. Michael Gallagher, a Democrat who represents District 1, or Vail, Minturn and part of Eagle-Vail, is the current chairman; Commissioner Tom Stone, a Republican who represents District 3, or Basalt, El Jebel, Gypsum, McCoy and Bond, was the chairman in 2000 and 2001.”I heard a rumor that Michael will retain the chair next year,” says Menconi, a Democrat who represents District 2, or Avon, Edwards, Wolcott and Eagle.”I asked him (Gallagher) and he told me he is intending to retain the chair. It’s historic that the board rotates.”Tuesday, Menconi confronted Stone, asking “if it was his wish that the chair rotate to him (Menconi) next year.””I’m not ready now,” Stone answered.Eagle County Clerk & Recorder Sara Fisher puts some historical perspective on the rotation.”We see a history of the chair rotating from district to district,” she says Tuesday, “so it provides equal representation.”In the past 20 years, commissioners representing Districts 1 and 2 have been chairmen of the board seven times; commissioners representing District 3, six times.The chairman, Fisher says, has an elevated role of responsibilities, representing the board in situations in which it needs a sole representative and signing county documents.”He carries authority and provides direction to the board,” Fisher says. “To a certain extent the chairman provides the aura within the board and other elected officials.”Tuesday’s meeting was tense, especially when Menconi said he believed Stone and Gallagher had been talking about the future of the chairmanship privately.”Knowing Michael, this isn’t a decision he would have made on his own,” Menconi said.Gallagher wasn’t at the meeting Tuesday because he was ill. Reached by phone, he declined to comment.Stone says he declined to comment Tuesday because Gallagher wasn’t present.”Menconi’s accusation is incorrect,” Stone says. “I haven’t discussed this extensively with Michael at all. I’ve heard that Michael has expressed an interest on being the chairperson again, but I can’t say if I will support this. Arn hasn’t talked to me about his interest. I think it’s odd that he’s chosen to talk to the press before talking to me.”This is a discussion we need to have with a full board,” Stone adds.This time of year, commissioners usually discuss and agree on who will be the next chairman. Once they agree – by majority – the county attorney drafts a resolution. The commissioners then vote on it in January.Colorado law requires the Board of Commissioners to pick a chairman, but the rotation isn’t a requirement, says County Administrator Jack Ingstad.”It’s been a courtesy to rotate all the districts,” Ingstad says.In 2001, Stone retained the chairmanship because Gallagher and Menconi were new to the board, Ingstad says.”It’s been the custom, but not a rule,” Stone says.Stone describes his relationship with Menconi as “businesslike.” Although a Democrat, Gallagher endorsed Stone when he run for re-election in November.”I think it will end up being between Arn and Michael,” Stone says. “I’d like to be chairman the following year.”Menconi says the issue is a symptom of a much greater problem.”It seems the two other commissioners feel that they represent Eagle County better than I do,” Menconi says. “This isn’t something I’m doing for me. If they agree to continue holding onto the chairmanship, they’re not close to what the people in Eagle County want.”Andy Wiessner, a resident of Vail and a Menconi supporter who attended the meeting Tuesday, says the appropriate thing would be to rotate the chairmanship.”Otherwise, it’s not good for cooperative government,” he says.Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.