David Black drops out of commissioner race

Democrat Westendorff, Republican Baxstrom to vie for District 3 seat

Competition is dwindling in what was a candidate-heavy race for the District 3 La Plata County commissioner seat.

Democratic candidate David Black has bowed out of the race just one day after Republican candidate Roger Pennington’s bid for the seat was ended during his party’s county assembly.

“I have been involved in politics at some level for 30 years, so I do find it difficult to back up now,” Black said. “But moving my party forward, in unified pursuit of the office, has always been the goal.”

In a letter to the Democratic party dated Thursday, Black told party members he didn’t feel it prudent to continue his campaign. Black received just five delegate votes during Democratic caucuses earlier this month, compared with 85 votes for fellow Democrat Julie Westendorff, who also has her sights set on the commissioner seat.

“Obviously, the caucus results do not seem to favor a continued candidacy for the Third District County Commissioner seat,” Black’s letter said.

Black’s decision to concede the race comes two weeks before the party is slated to hold its county assembly, where he would need to garner the support of 30 percent of party delegates’ votes to make it onto this year’s primary ballot. He would need a minimum of 10 percent of delegates’ votes to run by petition, said Tiffany Lee Parker, La Plata County clerk and recorder.

“(I) want no consideration of my candidacy made at the assembly,” Black wrote to Democratic party officials. “I would prefer that Julie is nominated by acclimation.”

Left in the race for the District 3 post are Westendorff and Republican Harry Baxstrom, who received enough support in this week’s Republican county assembly to make it on the ballot.

District 2 incumbent Republican Kellie Hotter also has made the ballot, after being nominated by acclimation (or with unanimous support from delegates) at the assembly. Hotter will face off against Democrat Gwen Lachelt in the race, as long as Lachelt receives the needed 30 percent of delegates’ votes at the Democratic county assembly scheduled March 17.

The District 1 seat, currently held by Bobby Lieb, is not up for election this year.

Black said he remains a proud Democrat and appreciated the opportunity to try his hat at running for the post this year.

Denise Bohemier, chairwoman of the La Plata County Democratic Party, said of Black’s concession, “I appreciate his dedication to the Democratic party and him putting his full support behind Julie Westendorff so we can win this seat in November.”

The run was Black’s second attempt at the District 3 seat. He lost a bid for the post eight years ago, when Democrat Wally White defeated him.

hscofield@durangoherald.com