By David Martin

The reason for their defeat


November 7, 2018

With the General Election officially over, Sweetwater County will have two new commissioners starting next year.

A lot can be learned in the defeat suffered by John Kolb and Reid West. Before I explain further, it should be pointed out that both are good county commissioners. Neither man was lax in their duties and the commissioners as a group have done a lot to make Sweetwater County a better place. They saved Castle Rock Hospital District from failing, secured funding for the construction of the Sweetwater County Justice Center and re-organized the Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County Board of Trustees, among other actions. Kolb, West and the other members have a lot to be proud of.

This election cycle had an interesting twist as candidates found an area to criticize the incumbents: their treatment of county staff. Jeffrey Smith specifically told voters that he would allow department heads to do their jobs without interference from the commissioners. Other candidates made similar statements.

An example of this can be seen when the commissioners decided to eliminate the chief deputy positions in many county offices, including the county assessor’s office, which can be seen as meddling in other elected officials’ affairs.

For Kolb, a lot can be attributed to how he has spoke about issues over the years. For example, there was the time he made a report to the other commissioners about a trip he made to Washington D.C., to represent the commissioners and spoke at length about how funny it was that another Wyoming county commissioner had fallen asleep during a speech delivered by former Vice-President Joe Biden.

Kolb has also shown a willingness to spew barbed comments and criticism when discussing situations and comments he doesn’t agree with, regardless of if the situation involves something pertaining to county business or something that irritates him.

Look no further than yesterday’s rant against airport manager Devon Brubaker and Kolb’s public allegations regarding things Brubaker had allegedly said about the commissioners.

The biggest contributor for Kolb is likely over the fallout from the hospital board’s reorganization nearly two years ago.

That reorganization and the removal of the hospital’s CEO had to happen. The improvement in the hospital’s finances support those actions.

But, with Kolb, the issue is likely how he came across, acting as the big hero of the day for being the first to point out the problems MHSC faced more than being a commissioner concerned with the future of the hospital.

This also explains why voters gave Randy Wendling a second term with the Sweetwater County commissioners. Wendling has avoided the same pitfalls that Kolb and West have stumbled on.

Perception has a lot to do with if a candidate will get re-elected or not. Sure, West, Kolb and the other commissioners have a lot to be proud of, but if voters don’t like how they conduct business, they will find other people to do the job.

The election returns say it all.


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