ICYMI: Westword Covers How GOP-led Douglas County Commission Put Politics Over People’s Health
Dem Candidates Slam “Foolhardy” Decision to Break Off from Tri-County Health
This morning (August 3, 2020) , Westword Magazine published an article comparing the Democratic candidates for Douglas County Commissioner — Lisa Neal-Graves and Darien Wilson — to their Republican rival, which showed a stark contrast in attitudes towards public health policy.
While Neal-Graves and Wilson both advocate for a commonsense, science-based approach to keeping Douglas County residents safe, the GOP-led County Commission ended the county’s partnership with Tri-County Health in a knee jerk reaction to the department’s decision to enact a face mask requirement.
WORTH NOTING: Colorado legislature minority leaders Patrick Neville and Chris Holbert pushed for the commission to sever ties with Tri-County Health — a decision that could leave Douglas County unprotected during a pandemic while they spend precious taxpayer dollars to build a new health department from scratch.
“This will be a way to really make sure that we are providing services that our citizens use,” [GOP incumbent Lora Thomas] says, suggesting that ending overlap will save money, too.
But that’s not the conclusion that Douglas County reached back in 2003, when the county commissioned a study to explore the possibility of withdrawing from Tri-County.
The results showed that “if they were to establish their own health department, it would cost them three times as much money, and it would also mean that they would have to redevelop a whole health department from scratch, which would take years,” says Richard Vogt, the Tri-County Health Department executive director from 2001 to 2013.
“I think it’s foolhardy,” Darien Wilson, the Highlands Ranch Democrat running to unseat Thomas, says of the board’s decision to withdraw from the regional health department that Douglas County has belonged to for over a half-century. “I think it is very politically motivated and it’s about talking to their base. They are not looking to scientific expertise.” A small-business owner, Wilson wants to keep Douglas County in the Tri-County Health fold.
On the other hand, Lisa Neal-Graves, a Democrat, lawyer and Parker resident also vying for that seat, doesn’t buy the idea that this move will benefit Douglas County residents. “It’s less about the concern of their health and welfare and more about the political expediencies of the platforms that they want to push forward. That, I think, is an atrocity,” she says.