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Montezuma County Commissioners Reluctantly Open Planning and Zoning Candidate Interviews to Public

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After a lively discussion Monday, the Montezuma County commissioners decided interviews of candidates for a seat on the Planning and Zoning Commission would be done in public.

The agenda had stated the commissioners would conduct “private interviews” Monday afternoon in the administrator’s office, though it did not call the interviews an executive session. Audience members Ellen Foster and M.B. McAfee maintained this would violate state open-meetings law, which says meetings of a public body must be public except in certain specific circumstances. County attorney John Baxter said the law did not apply because the candidates were private citizens. County staff had said earlier that there were eight candidates, but Monday the staff said they had named four top recommendations. Commissioners Keenan Ertel and James Lambert said they did not have strong feelings about the questioning being private, but Ertel warned McAfee that he did not want audience comments during the interviews. Chair Larry Don Suckla then said they would be open.

- David Long contributed to this report

Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal. She is currently a freelance writer as well as the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.
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