Making a living interferes with council work
By Mark Reaman
Crested Butte Town Council member Kent Cowherd stepped down from office Tuesday morning. The town is taking applications for people interested in filling his seat until the next election this November, and an appointment should happen in early March.
Cowherd, a professional architect, has recently been hired by clients to help guide them through the town Board of Zoning and Architectural Review (BOZAR) process. But under the town code, councilmembers are prohibited from appearing in front of other town boards, since such action could result in the public perception of a conflict of interest between the council member and a town board.
An emotional Cowherd informed his fellow council members of his decision at the February 4 meeting by reading his letter of resignation. He said he had recently been engaged for architectural services in town that begin with a BOZAR review next week.
“It is critical to uphold the code of conduct and prevent any appearance of conflict of interest,” Cowherd read Monday. “Our local elected body must continue to foster public trust by defining standards of honest government … I recognize, acknowledge and honor that the primary key to successful and productive government is public trust, therefore I must resign.”
“You have been a dedicated, hard-working councilmember and I thank you,” said councilman Chris Haver.
“I know it has been a difficult decision to make,” said mayor Jim Schmidt. “I admire the ethics of holding actions (as an elected official) to a higher plane—certainly much more than we are seeing in the national or even state arena.”
“Thank you for sticking your neck out there,” added councilman Will Dujardin. “We all know how much this job means to you.”
“Aside from being banished from Acme Liquor, it has been a great experience,” said Cowherd in regard to a ban notice that went up after the council voted to allow Clark’s Market to sell full-strength beer.
Town administration will begin taking applications for Cowherd’s seat immediately. Council will then interview prospective candidates and take a vote on who to seat until November. They have 30 days to select a replacement. To read Cowherd’s letter go to page 5.