A local grassroots initiative is challenging a decision by the Elbert County commissioners that many say ignores the efforts and desires of the residents they were elected to serve.
Jill Duvall, co-coordinator of the Elbert County Oil and Gas Interest Group, says the surprising July 10 decision not to amend land-use regulations for oil and gas exploration is a slap in the face not only to residents, but to the all-volunteer group that spent more than two years developing the accompanying documents.
Now Duvall and others want this fall’s ballot to include the question of whether those regulations should be adopted.
“While some of the commissioners suggest the vote reflects exactly what the people want, we challenge them to put it on the November ballot,” Duvall said. “If the decision is truly what the people of Elbert County want, then that will be reflected by the vote and strengthen their position even more.”
But Duvall, a retired schoolteacher and former candidate for county commissioner herself, said her personal effort to reach out to the commissioners on the subject has received a rather cold welcome.
In a July 26 email to District 2 Commissioner Kurt Schlegel, Duvall wrote, “Please put the proposed oil and gas regs to a vote of the people. Since we are already having an election this fall, there is no additional cost to the county. This is democracy in action!”
Schlegel declined her request, replying “No thank you. FYI — we live in a Constitutional Republic that is based on democratic principles — not a democracy.”
Duvall said the group is now circulating a petition to ask the Board of County Commissioners to put the question on the ballot.
The petition is circulated locally and is not the same as a similar online petition, and Duvall says those interested in signing should contact her directly.
“The sad part of it is, this is only a symbolic petition,” she explained. “The state of Colorado considers a county an extension of itself, and only a town, city or home rule municipality can circulate a ballot initiative. In Elbert County, the BOCC approves everything that goes on the ballot, so we are simply hoping to get enough signatures and show them there are a lot of people who think differently than they do.”
To contact county commissioners:
Robert Rowland, District 1
Kurt Schlegel, District 2
Larry Ross, District 3
To contact Elbert County Oil and Gas Interest Group:
Jim and Jill Duvall