As learned from working on a County Commissioner Campaign
Written by Greta Thurson
This blog post is in no way advocating against running for office but it is questioning the risk of important offices changing hands in the middle of a crisis.
Over this past summer I have been working on a political campaign for one of the County Commissioners in Routt County. During this pandemic, the County Commissioners have taken on a great deal of responsibility. They are responsible for listening to the needs of the businesses in Routt County, knowing the requirements from the Governor of Colorado, and applying the recommendations from health officials. The County Commissioners have been working around the clock since the beginning of the pandemic to keep Routt County as safe and economically stable as possible and their hard work has been paying off.
In mid summer, one of the County Commissioners, Tim Corrigan, found out that he might have an opponent. The opponent was a young conservative with a military background and a considerable amount of financial backing. With this knowledge, we started working on different campaign strategies. Mr. Corrigan has had well financed opponents in the past and has been able to use his large base of support and strong record to win without even coming close to the spending of his opponent. He also recognized though, that this year was not the same as past years. People are more polarized now than in the past and this election is coming in the midst of an economic crisis and a global pandemic. He is liked by both Democrats and Republicans in Routt County and was not too concerned about the young challenger. This is however a presidential election year.
Mr. Corrigan is a moderate democrat who has served as a County Commissioner since 2012 and before then he was heavily involved in the South Routt school district and at the end of his involvement was the School Board President. He owned his own drywall company and raised his children in Routt County. As the County Commissioner, he currently serves on many different boards including: Communications Board, Emergency Food & Shelter Program Board, NW Transportation Planning Region, Regional Building Department Oversight Committee, Routt County Public Building Authority, South Routt Community Center Board, Wildland Fire MAC Policy Groupand the Yampa Valley Housing Authority Board.
Early on, the young challenger was unable to get the required number of signatures in order to be on the ballot and after a long period of debate was told he was not going to be on the ballot. The initial ruling was challenged and it took weeks of hearings to determine that the amount of signatures was not going to be changed due to COVID.
At the end of the day, Mr. Corrigan is going to continue to serve as County Commissioner of Routt County. The question was still raised though, what would happen if he were to be unseated? Would that hurt or benefit the county? And where have we seen this in the United States in the past? The first two questions were very real when Mr. Corrigan first thought he was going to have an opponent.
There have been many times throughout history where there has been a power shift in a crisis situation and times when there has not been a shift in power. The biggest event where we see both is WWII. The United States saw President Franklin D Rosevelt hold the office of President for an unprecedented 4 terms. He saw the country through the Great Depression and the Majority of World War II. During this time, he was able to establish programs that helped people out of the great depression and see them through to the end without having to worry about a future administration halting his progress. During the war, he was able to form relationships with forign leaders that were crucial to the war and maintain them throughout the duration of the war. Had a different president taken office who had ideas that were much different than those of FDR, it could have halted his progress and who knows where the United States would be today.
There is responsibility that comes with power and anyone who wants to run for office needs to understand that responsibility is to all the constituents that live within their county, district, state or even country. There is power that comes with responsibility. No matter what level of government a person is a part of, they hold some level of power. That has to be taken seriously and be inclusive. When a Democrat is elected to a position such as County Commissioner, their job is to serve the entire county and not just other democrats. The same goes for republicans who are elected. There is a lot of responsibility that comes with a position like county commissioner and each commissioner has a good amount of power over the health and livelihood of county residents. During a pandemic, like we are in now, it would do more harm than good to try and unseat a well liked, qualified incumbent.
(n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/archives/resources/timeline.htmlAgenda.
(n.d.). Retrieved from http://192.168.1.1:8181/http://co-routtcounty.civicplus.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/ArchivedAgenda/_11262019-2140?packet=true
Commissioners’ Corner: Routt County, CO – Official Website. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.co.routt.co.us/671/Commissioners-CornerLeuchtenburg,
W. E., William E. Leuchtenburg Professor Emeritus of HistoryUniversity of North Carolina, Leuchtenburg, W. E., & Professor Emeritus of HistoryUniversity of North Carolina. (2018, July 24). Franklin D. Roosevelt: Impact and Legacy. Retrieved from https://millercenter.org/president/fdroosevelt/impact-and-legacy
Timothy V. Corrigan, Commissioner District I: Routt County, CO – Official Website. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.co.routt.co.us/319/Timothy-V-CorriganDistrict-I
I want to start by saying that this is a topic you are very passionate about, and I cannot help but agree with you. It might sound cliche to say, but these are unprecedented times, and people are already going through many instabilities and changes. To purposefully try to uproot a qualified and well-respected commissioner for personal gain is very cruel and showcases the self-serving nature that politics has taken. I can’t help but feel as though your blog post is also touching on how wealth can influence an election. In 2010 the Supreme Court case Citizen United vs. The Federal election commission overturned the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, which put limitations on ways major corporations can fund elections. Since then, we’ve seen the rise of super PACS that create politicians who care more about winning a seat than serving the community, as seen in Routt County. Thank you, Greta, for sharing this is an incredibly well-written blog post.