GREELEY — Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway will be resigning from his seat effective Jan. 31, 2020 according to a letter sent to the Weld County Council dated Jan. 6, 2020. It’s a resignation that could have a domino effect on Weld County and Colorado politics.
Conway confirmed his intent to Complete Colorado, adding he is not going anywhere permanently, and he will speak more after his wife recovers.
I am “going to be very involved in 2020 elections,” he said.
Conway has celebrated a long career in politics. He was state director for former U.S. Sen. Bill Armstrong and chief of staff for former U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard. He is in the final year of his third term on the Board of Weld County Commissioners, meaning he was term-limited prior to announcing his resignation.
The past two years for Conway have been controversial, fighting with fellow board members at times and being removed from many of the boards and commissions he represented for Weld. He was also not assigned a coordinator position for any Weld departments the past two years.
In his letter, Conway pointed to the Northern Colorado Crime Lab, Weld County Road 49, Adult Treatment Court, successful response to the floods of 2012 and the new addition to the county jail as some of the biggest accomplishments he was proud to have played a part in.
“… while ensuring Weld County remained the only county in the country with no short-term debt, long-term debt or sales tax,” he said. “I have always championed the ‘Jeffersonian Ideal of Public Service’ where citizens serve for a short period of time in office and then return to their community to live under the rules and regulations they enacted.
“It is time to pass the torch to a new generation of leaders who hopefully continue to make Weld County the best place in Colorado to live, work and play,” he continued.
Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, told a group of district leaders and central committee members from the Larimer County Republicans at a breakfast meeting Monday that Conway’s resignation could cause a domino effect, which includes several state offices.
If Rep. Perry Buck, R-Windsor is appointed to Conway’s seat, it could do just that, as Buck’s HD 49 seat would then be open, starting a new game of musical chairs that includes a list of experienced women who are looking to continue their public service.
Everyone who is potentially impacted by the resignation said their first and foremost thoughts were with Conway and his wife’s health.
HOUSE DISTRICT 49
Buck — who is term-limited from House District 49 — is running for Conway’s seat. She confirmed she will apply for Conway’s vacated position.
“I am greatly disturbed with the health of Sean’s wife,” Buck said. “First are my prayers are for Rebecca that she is going to be OK.”
Buck said being a member of the Weld County Commissioners is something she has wanted for many years. .
“I would be honored to represent Weld County,” she said. “I love what it stands for and the culture of the community. I have fought for overreach of government, and I know what happens down there in Denver. I want to continue to fight against that for Weld County. This is something I’ve wanted to do forever.”
Buck’s Republican opponent, Eaton Mayor Kevin Ross, said he will also throw his application into the mix for the appointment. Ross’s last council meeting as mayor is in March.
“I think it’s important that the commissioners have a full board as they do their business,” Ross said. “And I’m able to fulfill my commitment to the town without leaving vacancies that have to be filled. I have the greatest amount of experience, and I understand the issues at the county level. I would be able to effectively contribute from the start.”
SENATE DISTRICT 23
Marble — who is term-limited from Senate District 23 — is running for Buck’s HD 49 seat. She is being primaried by Wellington resident Mike Lynch. If Buck were appointed, Marble confirmed she will apply for the open HD 49 seat.
“The biggest piece of this is prayers for Rebecca,” Marble said. “But what I gave the people this morning is a scenario of how this could play out. They deserve to know because a lot of people put a lot of work into getting things in line. It takes a lot of work, and they deserve to be updated to what is happening.”
Marble said she does not see this as a game of musical chairs.
“Each one of us running have a primary,” Marble said. “The people are the ones who rearrange the chairs on the deck, not the candidates. People have a choice in all the races. It would be an honor to be elected again and serve the people.”
COUNTY COMMISSIONER DISTRICT 3
Weld Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer — who is term-limited from her commissioner seat — is running for Marble’s seat. She is being primaried by Windsor resident Rupert Parchment. Kirkmeyer said she is not sure if she would apply for the open SD 23 seat. If she did, it would require an appointment of her current seat.
Kirkmeyer said others should consider the commitment they made to their constituents when they ran for their current office, adding she still has things she wants to accomplish in her final year, and the board is in a transition mode getting others ready to take over the boards, commissions, and departments she has overseen for the past 12 years.
“I made a commitment to the people in my district when I ran for office in 2016 that I would be here,” Kirkmeyer said. “I can’t say one way or another what I’d do. I’d pray over it; talk to my family, and talk to my fellow board members.”
HOUSE DISTRICT 63
Rep. Lori Saine, R-Dacono — who is term-limited for her House District 63 seat — is running for Kirkmeyer’s seat. She is being primaried by former Fort Lupton Mayor Tommy Holton. Saine also said she is not sure if she would apply for the open commissioner seat.
“First, I feel bad for Rebecca. I pray she stays around with us for a long time,” Saine said. “But that is a lot to think about, especially with so many moving pieces. I made a promise to my constituents. There are a lot of ifs and when’s, and I don’t know if it’s in the cards or not.”
That is where the shuffling would end. If Saine were appointed, her HD 63 seat would then be open for appointment. That seat is being sought by three Republicans, current Erie Town Trustee Dan Woog, Firestone resident Corey Seulean, and former State Rep. Pat Miller.
Marble said she told the group about Conway’s resignation and the possible outcome from it because the upcoming election season is a busy one already, and she wanted them to be aware of what might happen.
Vacancy committees from Weld and Larimer county Republican parties would decide all the state-impacted offices.
The appointment to fill Conway’s commissioner seat is handled differently in Weld County than any other county in the state. Weld County has what is known as the Weld County Council. Under Weld’s Home Rule Charter, the council holds the sole authority to appoint a replacement, unlike a vacancy committee that would be convened to pick a state-level replacement.
Section 3-15 of the Weld County Charter says the appointee “shall be of the same political party as that of the previous officer, as registered as of the date of his election, and the appointment shall be for the remainder of the term.”
There is nothing in the charter or Weld County code that outlines a time frame for the appointment. There may be guidance in the council bylaws, but that information was not available at press time.
The council meets the third Monday of each month. Its next meeting is Jan. 20.
Marble said at the end of the day, everyone’s fate is still in voters’ hands.
“We have the assembly, the primary and the general election we have to get through,” Marble said. “There are a lot of choices. It’s not a given that any of us are going to make it. People have the power.”