THURMAN - The two top officials in local government have submitted their resignations after a recent contentious town board meeting, and the political landscape in Thurman is likely to shift soon.
Thurman Supervisor Lawrence "Red" Pitkin resigned last week, citing a health issue related to stress prompted by political upheaval, and Deputy Supervisor James Ligon submitted his resignation, effective immediately, soon after the June 29 Thurman Board meeting. Pitkin's resignation is effective July 31.
Warren County Republican Elections Commissioner Mary Beth Casey said Tuesday that both positions - the supervisor post and one town board position - will be on the ballot in November's general election.
In the meantime, the remaining members - four through July 31 - can choose an interim supervisor and appoint a temporary board member. Through that date, Pitkin is fully empowered to help make that choice. After Aug. 1, the three remaining board members, Charlie Bills, Al Vasak and Leon Galusha, would have to cast a unanimous vote on the temporary positions.
Citizens interested in the town board position may pick up and circulate petitions immediately so their names can appear on the September Primary election ballot, but for the Supervisor post, it's a different matter, she said.
With Pitkin's resignation effective July 31, the time is past for Republican or Democrat petitions to be circulated for the supervisor post. However, those interested in the post may seek such support as an Independent candidate. The major parties can meet and submit names for their endorsed choices, however.
Both of the county Election Commissioners, Casey and Democrat Bill Monfort, said this simultaneous resignation of two town board members was unprecedented.
"In my 30 years here, I've never seen this happen," Montfort said Tuesday. Thurman Supervisor Red Pitkin confirmed his resignation Sunday, and said he wouldn't likely revoke it.
The June 29 town board meeting - that included angry, accusatory discussion over how a youth recreation director's job position was handled - was apparently the last straw for Pitkin, who had been considering stepping down for weeks.
For months, he'd been involved in skirmishes between the board and the officials of the Thurman Emergency Squad, which the town supports, contending the agency should have prudent financial management, accurate bookkeeping and not build up an excess surplus in their treasury.
The town government has been withholding their annual payment of $33,000 to the squad pending receipt of a comprehensive, accurate financial statement.
The squad recently informed the town board they'd hired an attorney to represent them in settling the dispute. In response, the town board decided to have their own legal representation to negotiate their positions. Pitkin said spending such money on lawyers was a waste of taxpayers' cash.
The discord and stress from these and other incidents prompted Pitkin's resignation, he said Monday.
"I don't see taking back my resignation," he said. "This has to do with the ongoing town issues - I'm tired of fighting insane battles over little crazy things."
Pitkin said he was tired of witnessing false accusations and back-stabbing in local politics, and he didn't want to join the fray.
"Too many people like to instigate things and speak in half-truths," he said.
Maintaining his integrity, he said, was most important at this point.
"I'm a better man than a politician," he said.