Infighting has broken out among Douglas County commissioners after the board chair was stripped of that title and the members began lobbing accusations at each other.
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The conflict began after Commissioner Lora Thomas posted to her personal website that she was removed from her position as the board’s chair by her fellow two commissioners.
In the April 21 post, Thomas said Commissioners Abe Laydon and George Teal voted during a Monday, April 19 work session meeting to remove her as chair.
The county's board chair serves as the public representative and leader of the board, according to the county’s policy for commissioners. They preside over meetings and decide agendas. Normally, the chair and vice chair are selected on a rotating basis based on district, according to the policy.
“In a clumsy attempt to silence my voice, my fellow Republican County Commissioners Abe Laydon and George Teal voted to remove me as Chairwoman of the Douglas County Board without cause,” according to the statement.
The statement calls Teal and Laydon “good old boys” and says that they are attempting to silence her.
Teal and Laydon have “chosen their misguided self-interests over the future fiscal health and well-being of our communities,” according to the statement.
In response, Commissioner Abe Laydon lambasted Thomas.
“Unfortunately, Lora Thomas’ egregious abuse of power and willful deceit to advance her political self-interests over the interests of the county represents an ongoing and well-documented pattern of behavior over several years that cannot be further tolerated by the citizens we serve,” he wrote in a text message.
In his statement, Laydon didn’t provide specific examples of the actions he had accused of Thomas.
Commissioner George Teal said in a statement that Thomas lacked "the integrity and professionalism" needed to serve as the chair.
"Her recent conduct is unbecoming of a county commissioner and our residents deserve better," he wrote in a text message. "It is my sincere hope that Tuesday's censure vote will serve as a wake up call to Commissioner Thomas and she'll learn to put our residents above her own self interests."
Thomas, who was first elected in 2016, has served as board chair since January.
“This is just about good ole boys attacking a competent, strong woman,” Thomas said in an interview with Colorado Community Media.
In her statement, Thomas said that she’s worried about the county’s financial health because of the two commissioners’ policies and that she was ousted because she “opposed their big government plans and fought to inform citizens of the truth.”
Thomas called the removal a “planned effort.”
An agenda for the 10:30 a.m. meeting did not include mention of a discussion about the board chair position. Laydon was appointed as the new chair and Teal was appointed as vice chair, according to draft minutes from the meeting.
“The problem is that they are trying to silence me,” Thomas said in an interview with Colorado Community Media. “I won’t be silenced.”
In March, Teal and Laydon voted in favor of bringing a clean energy commercial financing program, called the Colorado Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy, or C-PACE, to the county. Thomas mentioned this issue along with pension plans for deputies, purchase of a local building and graywater discharges in her statement.
Thomas added that the move was “motivated by a frustration with my integrity and courage to oppose and criticize their poorly devised land schemes, financial boondoggles, and self-serving policy proposals.”
In her statement, Thomas asks county residents to show their support to her by emailing the county and attending next week’s business meeting to voice their support of her.
“I’m trying to save the future of Douglas County,” Thomas said.
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