Sean Dougherty Named New Larimer County Commissioner
Sean Dougherty, a local real estate agent, eight-year veteran of the Larimer County Planning Commission and candidate for the District 1 seat on the Larimer County Board of Commissioners, will serve out the remainder of Commissioner Lew Gaiter’s term on the board.
Dougherty will replace Gaiter, who died Sept. 18 at 58 after a decade of battling cancer. Dougherty will serve the remainder of Gaiter’s last term, through the end of 2018.
Larimer County Republican Party delegates appointed Dougherty Thursday night by a unanimous voice vote from the 169 delegates in attendance; 148 were needed for a quorum of the body of over 300 members.
In the aftermath, Dougherty seemed a little shaken — “I’m on an emotional high right now,” he said, referring to how it felt to receive unanimous support from the delegation.
But, that is not to say he was caught off guard by the appointment. The sole nominee for the position, Dougherty said he had been talking with Gaiter, a friend, and learning the ropes ahead of time to make a smooth transition, as well as winding down his day job in anticipation of a new commitment.
“I started winding down my real estate business because, just in case this happened, and I had the opportunity to step in and carry on his legacy, his role, I wanted to be prepared to do it and not have to leave the people that I’m helping to buy and sell homes in the lurch,” Dougherty said.
Serving only a partial term does not mean the position-holder will be ineffective, said Larimer County Republican Party Chairman Bob Morain.
“This is not just a placeholder position; the county has a lot of work to do until the time the next commissioner is sworn in in January,” Morain said. “This person has a lot of responsibility.”
Looking forward, Dougherty’s first priorities will be getting a start on the 2019 budget by Oct. 15. He said he had already been sitting on meetings with the commissioners to be ready to step in.
Also on his agenda are contentious land use issues scheduled for discussion Tuesday, he said. He is planning on dedicating between 40 and 60 hours per week to the position.
“It’s a full-time job,” he said.
Dougherty said his guiding principles as he crafts policy are to focus on the private property rights of the individual, and on simple common sense.
Jeff Jensen, who ran Gaiter’s campaign and is a close friend of the family, spoke highly of Gaiter’s morals, ethics and values — “it’s a huge loss,” he said — but said he thinks Dougherty is the right person to step into the role.
“Tough shoes to fill, but Sean Dougherty is absolutely the best one to do it,” Jensen said. “I’ve worked with him on the Planning Commission for eight years, I’ve watched him develop, and watched him understand what that means, because that’s a big part of what Larimer County Commissioners do, is land use. He will absolutely be a rock star in that office, and he absolutely is qualified to be in there.”
In November, voters will either select Dougherty or Democrat John Kefalas to serve in the seat for a full term beginning in January.
A public memorial service for Gaiter will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, at Timberline Church, 2908 S. Timberline Road, Fort Collins.
Julia Rentsch: 970-699-5404, firstname.lastname@example.org