Boulder County Commission Swears in New Elected Officials
The Boulder County Commission’s reorganization hearing on Tuesday morning marked the end of an era with several standing ovations for longtime Commissioner Cindy Domenico and County Clerk Hillary Hall , but in the words of Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr; the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Though Tuesday officially signified the end of Domenico’s 35-year career of public service in Boulder County as well as Hall’s 12-year career as county clerk, their replacements, Commissioner Matt Jones and County Clerk Molly Fitzpatrick, bring similar philosophies to the positions as their predecessors.
Jones, like Domenico , grew up in rural surroundings that ingrained a deep love for the environment in them. This passion also led both Jones and Domenico to seek out jobs as environmental stewards for Boulder County as young adults — Domenico worked as a deputy assessor evaluating agricultural land and Jones as a planner, manager and wildland firefighter for Boulder Open Space.
While their zeal for environmental conservation may have spurred the start of their political careers, once in office they also became outspoken advocates for progressive issues of health, housing, and human services.
As county commissioner, Domenico served on the statewide Child Welfare Executive Leadership Council , the Health and Human Services Committee for Colorado Counties , helped create the Child Welfare Ombudsman Office and supported efforts for an expansion of the Child Care Assistance Program, criminal justice reform and the development of affordable housing.
During his 14-year career in the Colorado State Legislature as both a representative and state senator, Jones, 63, championed renewable energy, the preservation of public land and alternative transportation as a member of the Agriculture, Natural Resources, & Energy Committee, the Select Committee on Energy, the Environment and the Water Resources Review Committee and the Senate Transportation Committee.
He also worked in conjunction with Domencio on initiatives to expand the child care assistance program, reform the criminal justice system, create an ombudsman for behavioral health and extend affordable housing tax credits .
“The county’s been doing this kind of work for a long while, I just want to pick up the ball up and run with it,” Jones said. “We live in such a special place we just need to keep going in order to keep it a special place.”
To do so Jones said his top priorities entering office are for Boulder County to use 100 percent clean energy as quickly as possible, to continue to fight fracking and to work with the Legislature to increase transportation funding for the northwest rail system.
“I’ve known Matt since the 1980s,” Domenico said. “I think he’ll do a super job. He’s longtime resident knows the constituents well. I’m proud to have been a part of this graceful transition that carries what we’ve done as a commission on into the future.”
With 29-year-old Fitzpatrick taking over the county clerk’s office, that future appears to be bright.
Her experience as the former chair of the Boulder County Democrats as well as the statewide organizer for New Era Colorado, where she helped register tens of thousands of young people to vote in Colorado, mirrored her predecessor’s efforts to modernize Boulder County’s voting mechanism and expand voter access at a time when many states moved to make it more difficult.
As the new clerk, Fitzpatrick said she wants to “carry on the legacy of Boulder County being a leader in enfranchising as many voters as possible.”
“I think, by and large, the trends are that people of color and low-income communities and young people are participating at lower rates,” she continued. “I think we have to ensure we’re looking at where those populations are in Boulder County. Where are we spending money on educational materials? Where are drop boxes located? Where are voter service and polling locations? I really want to get my hands on that data and start applying it to the planning process.”
While Jones and Fitzpatrick were the only newly elected officials sworn in on Tuesday, Assessor Cindy Braddock and District Attorney Michael Dougherty , both of whom were appointed mid-term to their current positions, were sworn in for the first time as elected officials. Sheriff Joe Pelle , Coroner Emma Hall , and Surveyor Lee Stadele were reaffirmed to the former positions.
In addition, Commissioner Elise Jones was appointed to replace Domenico as Chair of the County Commission. Commissioner Deb Gardner was appointed as vice chair.
John Spina: 303-473-1389, email@example.com or twitter.com/jsspina24