Government Attorney

A Basic Breakdown Of Clear-cut Tactics

In the 2016 presidential election, Republican Donald Trump took the county by just 0.3 percent over Democrat Hillary Clinton. Before that, residents chose GOP nominee Mitt Romney in 2012 (by one of his slimmest margins in the state) and Democrat Barack Obama in 2008. Certainly, there is animosity between the progressive environmentalists who have more recently moved to the area and the staunchly conservative ranchers who have lived there for generations. The groups have different visions for the county’s future, battling over whether it should be focused on tourism or mining. It’s gotten more heated with the change-of-government requirement. Mostly, HB224 has surprised residents and confused county leaders, launching even more debate over what form the county should choose, who can initiate the process and how to interpret the somewhat ambiguous bill. During a March meeting of the council, Grand County’s elected attorney, Andrew Fitzgerald, said because residents launched an initiative, leaders could not double up and pass their own resolution to put a study committee question on the ballot. A week later, his opinion had flipped. “Everyone’s been scrambling to figure out what this means,” he said, “and there’s certainly plenty of legal people who don’t quite know what it means and nobody has all of the answers.” The competing analyses divided the council’s chairwoman, McGann, and vice chairman, Curtis Wells. McGann, a Democrat, encouraged the government body to pass its own measure (though the grass-roots group had collected 386 valid signatures, well above the required threshold). Wells, a Republican and longtime critic of the current council form, accused her and others of acting like “an amateur lawyer.” “You did your own amateur analysis and you pushed a resolution on this agenda bypassing the public,” he said.

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