Teller Resident Questions Timing of WP Mayoral Appointment

Dear Editor:


I  am a resident of Teller County but live outside the city limits of Woodland Park.


Yet, on January 20, 2022 I decided to attend the WP City Council meeting in effort to show support for a fellow citizen, a gentleman I’d never even met. I’d heard that his teenage son was “unofficially” removed (aka, fired) from his lifeguarding job with the city because of the mask mandates on employees, and I felt this was wrong. So, my husband and I waited with others for over six hours to hear him called on to speak… at just after 1:00am.


Sadly, I’d figured out well before his appeal that it was going to make absolutely no difference to three of the Council members and City Manager. Being there, in total, for almost seven hours was a huge wakeup call for me and for so many reasons. We The People had better wake up and show up. As most of you know by now, in a vote of 3-2 the council members appointed Ms. Hilary LaBarre, former Mayor Pro Tem, to the office of Mayor, and she was sworn in immediately.


While their reasoning was a gesture of appreciation and to make her “feel good,” from my vantage point looking straight on at the issue, this seemed to be wrong from every angle. The most obvious reason is that the office of Mayor is to be voted upon and decided by the will of the people, not appointed AT WILL by the Council. This action CLEARLY does more than just make Ms. LaBarre feel good.


It  also sets up incumbent advantage in the office she is actually running for. While this move may save the city from the “risk” of triggering a special election, it certainly doesn’t save the risk of government usurping the will of the people… and THAT is immeasurable in cost and larger in scope. It was unbelievable to me that much of the evening was then spent in Council’s discussing (ad nauseam) the importance of avoiding any and all “appearance of impropriety”… yet, wasn’t this impropriety itself, not in appearance only but actually? If ever I have witnessed such it was that night.


Rewarding someone for their service is noble and right, but usually this is done with a nice gift. In my opinion, the gift of an elected position and the advantage it carries circumvents the people and wreaks of government overreach. Again, I am not a voter within the city but felt I would be remiss if I didn’t speak up. We’d better, friends. The water heats slowly for the frog in the pot, and the people lose liberty just the same way.


Kathryn Wilbanks

Teller County