UPDATE: Bill Gillard is withdrawing from the Weld County Commissioner District 1 race. He is instead throwing his hat into the race for State House District 48, currently held by Steve Humphrey, who is term-limited. Gillard said he has heard from trusted sources that another big name is about to announce intent for District 1, and he does not want to dilute field so much that the main focus of replacing incumbent Mike Freeman is lost. He believes he can do good at the state level. Currently, only one other candidate has announced their intention for 48. Grady Nouis, who lost a bid for House District 29 in 2018, moved to Johnstown to run for the seat.
GREELEY — The field of Republicans vying for an open District 1 Weld County Commissioner seat continues to grow with the announcement of a long-time Greeley resident, who has been playing watchdog over local politics since returning from California.
Bill Gillard, 72, officially announced his candidacy for the seat currently held by Mike Freeman. Freeman is seeking re-election, and earlier this month, Windsor Mayor Kristie Melendez announced her intentions to run as well.
“I believe I can win,” Gillard said. “I bring something to this race that no one else has. I don’t have a group of “good ole people. I’m an individual coming in, and my only concern coming in is that the taxpayer is being protected.”
Gillard has been married to his wife Terry for 20 years, they have five grown children from previous marriages.
Gillard said his decision to run is based on overall frustration with the current board since learning of ongoing issues after he returned to Colorado in 2018 from a decade in California.
“It got started with the ‘vacation’ they took to Breckenridge,” Gillard said. “I call it a vacation because there was no need to go up there.”
Gillard was referring to an emergency management training exercise the county hosted for nearly 50 county employees and many others in Breckenridge in August 2016 that went $30,000 over budget.
“They lied to me about how they paid for it,” Gillard said, “and they weren’t transparent with the public. That is not doing what the public voted (them) to do. I’m more about watching the taxpayer’s money, and that was a waste of money.”
Gillard says the difference between him and others in the race is he is a statesman, not a politician. However, he’s no stranger to political campaigns. He ran for Greeley City Council twice, in the early 2000s and Mayor of Greeley once. He lost all three races, although his city council race in 2007 was by just 35 votes, and he had moved to California two months before the election.
“Not bad for a guy who withdrew from the race,” he said with a laugh.
Gillard pointed out several other issues he believes give reason for the Board of Weld County Commissioners to need new faces.
Allowing a Martin Marrietta to open a facility against regulations in Weld County, he said, presents a double standard.
“They didn’t follow all the set standards they have,” Gillard said. “You want citizens to follow all the standards or you will fine us if we don’t. So why aren’t they? I don’t care if you donate to my campaign or not. You have to follow the standards.”
Gillard also made headlines when he opened a Go Fund Me account to bring video transparency to commission meetings. The effort has raised less than $100 to date, but he said, more importantly, it raised awareness to the lack of transparency by commissioners.
“They like to say (they’re) legally transparent,” Gillard said. “To me, that means just doing the minimum. Video meetings have to do with body language. It a complete package that tells me where you’re coming from. It should be a no brainer. They have the money … unless you really don’t want to see what’s going on.”
The commissioners are considering moving to video meetings. They’ve had several meetings on the topic already, and they have a work session scheduled for July 1.
Gillard said he will be open, transparent and not work for anyone but the citizens of Weld County if elected.
“What I tell everyone who helps me is if you think you’re getting a yes person, don’t help me because I’m not a yes person. I’m going to look at the facts.”