Garfield County Treasurer candidates spar over partisanship of down-ballot offices; Clerk candidates agree on election security | PostIndependent.com
YOUR AD HERE »

Garfield County Treasurer candidates spar over partisanship of down-ballot offices; Clerk candidates agree on election security

Garfield County Treasurer candidates Carrie Couey and Aron Diaz answers questions at the 2022 Issues and Answers Forum at Glenwood Springs City Hall.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

The Garfield County Treasurer’s Office and other elected administrative positions in the county should not be partisan offices, the challenger for the treasurer’s position said during Wednesday’s Issues and Answers Forum in Glenwood Springs.

“There are some (elected) offices where policies are driven from a partisan point of view, and certain offices that are more administrative … that should not be partisan but happen to be under our current structure,” said Aron Diaz, the Democratic candidate who is challenging Republican Treasurer Carrie Couey in the Nov. 8 election.

As a statutorial, rather than home-rule county, Garfield County elects the offices of treasurer, clerk and recorder, assessor, coroner, surveyor and sheriff rather than having the county commissioners or county manager hire those positions, as some Colorado counties do.



Diaz has criticized the appointment two years ago of Couey, the former county Republican Party chair, to the vacant Treasurer’s Office position after former Treasurer Karla Bagley, a Republican, resigned unexpectedly.

“I believe my opponent was appointed in a partisan fashion, and I disagreed with that,” Diaz, a former Republican-turned-Democrat who worked for several Republican lawmakers from Colorado, said of his decision to run for the office.



In doing so, he earned the endorsements of both Bagley and her predecessor, Democrat Georgia Chamberlain.

Couey, though nominated through the standard process this year to run for retention of the treasurer’s seat, said at the Wednesday forum at Glenwood Springs City Hall that she doesn’t interject politics into the work of the Treasurer’s Office.

“When I come to the office, I don’t think about taxpayers or our customers as a Republican, Democrat or an Unaffiliated person,” she said during the debate. “I look at them like they’re part of the community, and we need to provide them with the very best customer service possible.

“Yes, I’m a Republican, but I’ve never treated my office in a partisan way at all,” she said.

Couey said she stepped up to the task of taking over as treasurer when the office came open and has learned a lot in that two-and-one-half years.

“I’ve had a lot of people come in and tell me they like the way things are going,” she said. “When I was appointed, it was because the previous treasurer left in a hurry, and there was a big gap to fill. I bridged that gap … and now is not the time to have the instability of another change.”

Diaz said he would bring more accountability to the office, and that elections are an opportunity to look at the county’s administrative offices and decide whether a change is needed.

Clerk and Recorder candidates vow to keep elections secure

Garfield County Clerk and Recorder candidates Becky Moller and Jackie Harmon answer questions at the 2022 Issues and Answers Forum at Glenwood Springs City Hall.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

The race for Garfield County Clerk and Recorder pits 21-year clerk’s office veteran Jackie Harmon of Silt, a Republican, against Democrat Becky Moller of Carbondale for the open position. Current Clerk and Recorder Jean Alberico, a Democrat, is retiring after 16 years in the elected position.

One of the bigger issues in that race centers around election security, given some of the concerns around that issue in recent years.

Avoiding partisan influences in overseeing elections — as has been alleged to have happened in neighboring Mesa County under Republican Clerk Tina Peters — came up in questioning at the Wednesday forum. 

Harmon and Moller agreed Garfield County’s procedures are secure and free of such partisan influences.

“Our office runs a fine election, and I’m proud of that,” Harmon said. “We lead by and set a fine example for the whole United States. Colorado elections are secure, they are bipartisan and one of the best in the nation.”

That’s because it’s neighbors — Republican, Democrat and Unaffiliated voters together — who oversee elections locally, she said.

“That has not changed even with the bad publicity,” she said. “We’re neighbors; we run our elections together, and we run secure elections.”

Moller, who has worked as an election judge for Carbondale municipal elections, said education of voters about the process is key.

“We need to be out in the schools and out in the civic organizations letting people know what the processes are, so that they understand how it works,” she said. “We are doing a great job with our elections now — in fact, we are the gold standard for how to handle things.

“… We need to continue that and ensure that we’re always aware of any threats to our elections, and that we remain open and transparent,” she said.

Wednesday’s forum also included debates between the candidates for Garfield County Commissioner District 1, Colorado House District 57 and Senate District 8, and representatives both for and against Glenwood Springs Ballot Issue 2C (lodging tax for workforce housing). It can be viewed in full at youtube.com/watch?v=aPB6JWabZPA

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or jstroud@postindependent.com.


Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.