Outgoing Board President Dave Merritt called it a “historic moment” with two women “elected to lead the River District into our next generation.”
Whitmore is the first woman to serve as Board President in the District’s 84-year history. Kathy Chandler-Henry is only the second woman to hold the seat of Vice President, preceded by Whitmore. Under the Board’s by-laws, officers may serve two one-year terms and are then term-limited.
The Colorado River District represents 15 Western Colorado counties, and each county’s Board of Commissioners appoints one representative to serve on the Colorado River District’s Board for individual terms of three years. Each year, five members are up for reappointment to a three-year term. The respective county commissions hold the power of appointment. All policies, resolutions, budget actions and other major activities of the River District are approved by the Board.
Two Board members whose terms were set to expire were reappointed by their respective Boards of County Commissioners in January. Those members include Marc Catlin, a producer from Montrose County and Colorado State representative in House District 58 and Alden Vanden Brink, manager of the Rio Blanco Water Conservancy District.
Newcomers to the Board are Taylor Hawes, Colorado River Program Director at the Nature Conservancy and Kathleen Curry, cattle farm operator and former Colorado state legislator. They replace Summit County representative Karn Stiegelmeier and longtime Gunnison County representative Bill Trampe, respectively.
Hawes, a water attorney specializing in water quality and quantity issues, is based in Silverthorne and once worked for the River District as associate counsel. Curry comes from a water-rights background, with a master’s in water resources from Colorado State University and experience working for the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District in the late 1990s.
Other incumbent directors are Tom Alvey, Delta County; Stan Whinnery, Hinsdale County; Mike Ritschard, Grand County; Tom Gray, Moffat County; Steve Acquafresca, Mesa County; Doug Monger, Routt County; Rebie Hazard, Saguache County; and John Ely, Pitkin County.
Garfield County has yet to make an appointment and Director Dave Merritt will serve as interim director until replaced.