Cashier residents ask about timing of WP mayor nomination


Dear Editor:

I am a resident of Teller County, but live outside the city limits of Woodland Park.

Yet on January 20, 2022, I decided to attend the WP town council meeting in an effort to show my support for a fellow citizen, a gentleman I had never even met. I had heard that her teenage son had been “unofficially” removed (i.e. fired) from his job as a lifeguard with the city due to employee mask mandates, and I thought that was false. So my husband and I waited with others for over six hours to hear him call to speak…just after 1:00 a.m.

Unfortunately, I understood long before his call that it would make absolutely no difference to three of the council members and the city manager. Being there, in total, for almost seven hours was a huge wake-up call for me and for many reasons. We the people better wake up and show up. As most of you know by now, in a 3-2 vote, members of council nominated Ms. Hilary LaBarre, former Pro Tem Mayor, as mayor, and she was sworn in immediately.

While their reasoning was a gesture of appreciation and to make her “feel good”, from my perspective looking straight at the question, it seemed to be wrong from every angle. The most obvious reason is that the position of mayor should be voted on and decided by the will of the people, not appointed AT WILL by the Council. This action CLEARLY does more than just make Ms. LaBarre feel good.

It also creates a titular advantage in the office she is running for. While this decision may save the city from the “risk” of calling a special election, it certainly does not save the risk of the government usurping the will of the people…and THAT is immeasurable in cost and far-reaching. It was incredible to me that much of the evening was then spent in Council discussing (ad nauseam) the importance of avoiding any “appearance of impropriety”… Yet, wasn’t that a irregularity itself, not only in appearance but in reality? If I ever witnessed it, it was that night.

Rewarding someone for their service is noble and just, but it’s usually done with a nice gift. In my view, the gift of elected office and the benefit it entails bypasses the people and appeases the excesses of government. Again, I’m not a town voter, but I thought I’d be remiss if I didn’t speak. We better, my friends. The water slowly heats up for the frog in the pot, and people lose their freedom the same way.

Catherine Wilbanks

Teller County


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