Furse nabs spot on GOP ballot

DA candidate picked over incumbent; McClellan earns commissioner spot

Keywords: Politics, Poll question,

Local Republicans crowded into the Montezuma County Annex Friday for the 2012 assembly — with delegates casting their votes to give a first indication of which candidates the party supports for this year’s elections.

The night produced some unexpected results.

Having secured a key nomination from the Cortez Police Department’s lead detective, district attorney candidate William Furse took the assembly by a landslide, seizing a place on the Republican primary ballot with nearly 57 percent of votes.

Jim Kingery nominated Furse, saying the local defense attorney expressed a desire to form a team comprised of law enforcement, attorneys and victim’s advocates to work to better serve the community.

“The district attorney’s office and law enforcement communicating together, to create a working team,” Kingery said. “I said ‘what a concept.’ Let’s work together to make tonight the first step in creating that team.”

A newcomer to the local political arena, but not to local courts, Furse said the quality of experience of candidate should be considered as well as the quantity.

“For nearly seven years I have consecutively worked in this district. No other candidate can say likewise,” he said, saying he has worked for the people of the district and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe. “Without exception, I have defended our Constitution and exposed the actions of those who do not.”

As a result of Furse securing so many Montezuma and Dolores county delegate votes, incumbent Russell Wasley and former Chief Deputy District Attorney Keith Mandelski — the only two candidates who have experience as prosecutors in the local DA’s office — will have to petition voters to be placed on the primary ballot.

Elected as district attorney in 2010, Wasley said he is proud and humbled to serve as the top prosecutor for Montezuma and Dolores counties. He pointed out his 11 years experience as a prosecutor. “I hate politics,” Wasley said. “I am not stylish, I am not flashy and I am not hip. What you see is what you get. But I want you to know that it’s important for a person to have prosecution experience to back up their candidacy.”

In another surprise move, Casey McClellan was nominated from the floor at Friday’s assembly for 3rd District Montezuma County Commissioner, snagging 39 votes and bumping former County Planning and Zoning Commission member Tim Hunter off the ballot. Hunter will now have to petition for placement on the ballot.

It was former Montezuma County Commissioner Dewayne Findley who got the most votes for the District 3 seat, however. He secured a place on the ballot with a comfortable 63 delegate votes.

The District 2 seat drew the most candidates, with Cortez funeral home owner Keenan Ertel roping in 67 delegate votes — enough to send local political leaders Bud Garner and Pat DeGagne-Rule back to voters to petition for ballot placement.

Local pastor and Dolores Chamber of Commerce Director Stuart Hanold got five delegate votes — not enough to make this year’s Republican primary ballot.

The Republican Primary is set for June 26.

Delegates were selected by registered party members who voted at local Republican Caucuses held Feb. 7.

Democrat and American Constitution Caucuses will take place Tuesday, March 6.

Reach Reid Wright at reidw@cortezjournal.com