SAGUACHE COUNTY— Don Geddes of Saguache has been a Democrat for as long as he can remember, but last Wednesday he took his name off the Democrat rolls to become a registered independent.
His decision came after a rift with the Democrat Party earlier this year over who should be their treasurer. Geddes told County Clerk and Recorder Carla Gomez and Assistant Clerk Jane Whitten the reason that he was changing affiliations was because the party’s new treasurer, Bill McClure, “is a four-time felon and I can’t go along with that.”
In February, during an organizational meeting, a slim majority elected McClure treasurer. In April, Democrat Party members objecting to the February election petitioned the party for McClure’s recall, but the resulting recall election failed by one vote.
Members who signed the petition objected on the grounds that according to the rules governing the selection of candidates, McClure was a (former) felon and should not serve in the position. Noland reported that an official government website recording felony offenses did not show McClure had a history of felony convictions.
Democrat Party Executive Director Anne Wilseck came from Denver to conduct the hearing and swearing in of witnesses, held to determine if McClure should retain his position. She said no mention was made of any felonies other than a conviction for tax fraud in 2006.
Newspaper reports from the archives of the Center Post-Dispatch tell a different story. A March 25, 1985 article cites McClure’s first felony violation for felony menacing during a dispute in his office with a Leland De Priest. McClure was the mayor of Center at the time. He was sentenced in Conejos District Court and placed on probation.
Later McClure was accused of assaulting Dennis Felmlee in an Alamosa bar. He received a deferred prosecution for this violation. In a separate incident, McClure was cited by Saguache County Sheriff’s officers for carrying a concealed weapon in his vehicle, a violation of his probation.
Saguache County court records show another (felony four) menacing charge that was filed March 27, 1986 but records list no history of a disposition in court for the case. In other cases restraining orders have been filed and obtained against McClure. According to a former courthouse employee, McClure “sanitized” his felony record during his time as Saguache County commissioner.
Geddes says McClure has physically threatened himself and others in the past and he finds it exceedingly offensive that such behavior would not be taken into consideration in selecting McClure as treasurer. The final straw, he said, is that McClure recently offered to fill in as interim treasurer for the town of Center following the departure of the town administrator, who pled guilty to falsifying records and identity theft while working for the Internal Revenue Service several years ago.
“I know several other people who have changed their registration to independent because of this,” Geddes noted. He called what is going on politically in the nation “horrific” and urged all citizens to speak out in order to restore ethics in the country.