There is a mess to sort out at Town Hall in Oak Creek. The assistant town treasurer has resigned, accusing the town manager of improprieties on her way out the door. The town manager has submitted his letter of resignation, too, though whether he resigns, he says, is up to the Town Board.
The Town Board is itself divided.
How Oak Creek found itself with the problems it has is hard to pin down. But one thing is for sure for years, little attention was paid to town government in Oak Creek. Most of the members of the current Town Board were appointed because no one had an interest in running. Those who were elected often did so in uncontested races.
Such election scenarios are not uncommon in small, rural towns such as Oak Creek. In fact, in Yampa this week, residents were supposed to elect three people to the Town Board, but only one person is running. And in Hayden, just four people are running for three spots.
Thanks to the controversy, Oak Creek won't have that problem this election cycle. The community is engaged in town government again. Town Board meetings often feature heated debate, which is not always pleasant but at least ensures that two sides are being represented.
When town residents go to the polls Tuesday, they will choose between two candidates for mayor incumbent Deb VanGundy and the outspoken Cargo Rodeman.
They will also have the opportunity to select from a pool of nine candidates for five open seats on the board. The field includes trustees Sonja Norris, Charlie Bevan, Bill Paxton and Mike Kien and newcomers J. Elliot, Dave Stordal, John Crawford, Robert Hageman and Bob Dresden.
The way things have gone, there is likely to be high turnout on Tuesday. And that's the way it should be lots of voters choosing from lots of candidates.
Technically, there is no difference between someone who wins a contested election when there is heavy voter turnout and someone who is appointed. Both are Town Board members. But obviously, the former comes to the board with support for his or her agenda, while the latter does not.
When the new Town Board members set about fixing the town's problems, they will do so knowing they have the support of the community. That's a luxury previous Town Board have not had.