Houck ends river district run

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Will not seek county appointment to board

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  • Jonathan Houck, Gunnison County Board of County Commissioners chair. Sam Liebl
    Jonathan Houck, Gunnison County Board of County Commissioners chair. Sam Liebl

Gunnison County Commissioner Jonathan Houck formally withdrew his name Wednesday morning from an appointment process to fill Gunnison County’s seat on the Colorado River District’s board of directors.

“Many conversations and much thought has gone into this decision and I will be happy to discuss my reasoning with you both,” Houck wrote in an email to county commissioners Roland Mason and Liz Smith on Wednesday.

“Due to the fact that I am no longer a candidate, I plan on joining the two of you in the decision making action on Tuesday, January 12. I thank you for your patience and professionalism while I continued on my path of due diligence over the last week.”

Houck had entered the running on the final day to apply, Dec. 21. He joined the other candidates — Sonja Chavez, general manager of the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District and Kathleen Curry, chair of the Gunnison Basin Roundtable — to fill a position rancher Bill Trampe had held for nearly two decades.

The Gunnison County Board of Commissioners is charged with appointing a representative to the river district board. County commissioner boards often self-appoint commissioners to county spots on the river district board, but Gunnison County’s commissioners opted to start a public interview process after applicants stepped forward.

The commissioners set their Jan. 12 regular meeting as the date when an appointment decision would be made so that Gunnison County would have representation at the first river district board meeting of the year.

Upon expressing interest in the seat in December, Houck cited his participation on a variety of committees such as the Sustainable Tourism and Outdoor Recreation board, where water policies often overlap with local projects, giving him a broader grasp of issues.

Trampe represented Gunnison County at the river district beginning in 2003. He announced in November that he would not seek reappointment in 2021.

The Colorado River District is tasked with protection, conservation and development of Colorado River Basin water, including the Gunnison River Basin.

Houck, who previously recused himself from the vote as a candidate, will now help Commissioners Liz Smith and Roland Mason choose between Chavez and Curry.

(Kate Gienapp can be contacted at 970.641.1414 or kate@gunnisontimes. corn.)