CASTLE ROCK — Residents in one geographic area of Castle Rock are scratching their heads trying to figure out why their Town Council representative is continually absent from his job.
“He only shows up when the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem need support on one of their issues,” said Wayne Harlos about District 7 representative Brett Ford.
Harlos, a 25-year resident of the rapidly-growing city located between Denver and Colorado Springs, is so frustrated by Ford’s representation that he plans to run for his seat in the 2018 election.
Since 2014, Ford has attended just 62 percent of the board meetings (60 of 97). That figure was never as bad as it was in 2017, attending just 8 of 21 meetings or 38 percent, with only one remaining. Since the first year of his election, when he attended 18 of 22 meetings (82 percent), he has not attended more than 64 percent (2016) in any one year.
By comparison, during the same time-period, fellow board members have attended as follows:
- Mayor Jennifer Green — 98 percent since 2014 and 100 percent in 2017.
- Mayor Pro Tem Renee Valentine — 88 percent since 2014 and 76 percent in 2017.
- George Teal — 77 percent since 2014 and 91 percent in 2017.
Numbers for board members Jess Loban (81 percent), James Townsend (86 percent) and Jason Bower (100 percent) are for 2017 only, when they took office for the first time.
Teal said he missed a lot during his first full year because it conflicted with work, but has since taken a new position so he can give more attention to his role on Town Council.
“I was still running my company,” Teal said. “I had customer projects I couldn’t miss without missing the mortgage. That is why I took my current position with a former client. I ended up having more control of my schedule with a supportive employer.”
Ford, too, said it’s his job that gets in the way.
“Although work obligations and flight schedules might require me to miss periodic Tuesday meetings, I am always available to staff, council members, and most importantly, residents,” Ford said.
Harlos said that is not enough, Tuesday meetings are where votes are cast.
“District 7 needs representation,” Harlos said. “And because he never shows up, I’m going to throw my hat in the ring.”
Nothing in the town’s charter or code allows for Town Council to remove a council member for failure to show. However, Town Code 2.12.030, says: “Should any Council member fail to regularly attend Town Council meetings or otherwise neglect his or her responsibilities and public duties, the Town Council may officially sanction such Council member and suspend such Council member’s compensation until such time as the sanction is rescinded by the Town Council. Sanction may be imposed by motion or resolution.”
Town council members make $650 per month. Ford continues to draw that check. Complete Colorado contacted all members of the board, asking if there is any plan to address Ford’s absences. Only Ford and Teal responded.
Teal said he does not believe the current makeup of the council will address Ford’s absences, adding Valentine recently expressed interest in appointing Ford to replace her as Mayor Pro Tem when her term is up in 2018.
“My focus this year has been on things other than levying any sort of fine on Councilmember Ford for his conduct or poor attendance. If such an issue were introduced, I would certainly support it.”
Teal said regular town meetings are not the only meetings Ford is absent from, but added he really is only upset with one absence in particular, an annual Water Resources Committee meeting.
“We met only once this year, and Brett did not attend,” Teal said.
Teal added, however, he is frustrated with Ford regardless of whether he attends, saying Ford, whom Teal sits next to, spends the meetings he does attend on his phone on various social media accounts, most recently during budget talks, or causing disruptions among board members.
“He had neither comments nor questions during the deliberations that set our $250 million plus budget,” Teal said. “When Brett is paying attention, his behavior is both divisive and offensive. He has already announced to council that he does not plan to run for re-election, so I have been patiently waiting for him to just resign his seat and allow council to appoint his seat.”
Harlos, who is the State Chair of the Colorado Libertarian Party, said he believes Ford should step down.
“But more importantly, the Town Council should take action,” Harlos said. “But no one … on that council has the courage to do anything.”
Another District 7 resident who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution agreed with Harlos.
“I wonder if our town leadership is failing District 7 residents by not enforcing attendance,” she said. “It’s time for our appointed mayor to actually address this. We have important issues with water and infrastructure. It’s just nonsense with the game playing.”
Complete Colorado also reached out to residents in District 7 through various social media pages, but because the groups are closed groups, Complete Colorado will not use their names.
Most agreed with Harlos, but some supported Ford and said his absences are not a problem.
Ford did not address whether he believes his absences are fair to his constituents.
“I take pleasure and honor in serving Castle Rock with honesty and integrity,” Ford said.