Summit County Commissioner Josh Blanchard will resign Sept. 1
A successor from the Democratic Party will be appointed by Sept. 11 to serve the remainder of Blanchard’s term
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include more detail about the Democratic Party’s vacancy committee.
Summit County Commissioner Josh Blanchard said he intends to resign his seat Sept. 1 after accepting a new position with the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
Blanchard will be leading the office’s Colorado Creative Industries division where he will oversee funding opportunities and creative district designations to spur the state’s arts economy. Blanchard said he accepted the position on Monday.
“It’s very bittersweet. I’m very proud of the work that I’ve been a part of these last three years. We’ve done some incredible work with housing, human services, bolstering our watersheds,” Blanchard said. “And the Summit County government team is amazing … it’s been an honor to be a part of that work.”
Elected in 2020, Blanchard has overseen a slew of initiatives alongside fellow commissioners Elisabeth Lawrence and Tamara Pogue. Those include capital improvements, such as the expansion and renovation of the North Branch Library in Silverthorne, as well as affordable housing efforts, such as a 52-unit modular home project in Breckenridge.
Blanchard hopes that initiative, which has fast tracked normal construction time by building units off-site, will serve “as a model for housing developments in mountain resort communities moving forward.”
Cost of living has continued to be a challenge in the county, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, Blanchard said.
“We know we’ve always had a high cost of living in Summit County … but coming out of COVID, that has increased significantly, and we’re really settling into a post-COVID reality,” he said.
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As an elected official, Blanchard also represents the county on numerous local and regional boards including The Summit Foundation, the Family & Intercultural Resource Center and the Northwest Council of Governments, where he focuses on water conservation in the Blue River watershed.
Protecting water quality and quantity has been a top priority for Blanchard, who testified before the state legislature in support of several water-related bills, including the recent Colorado River Drought Task Force, which held its first meeting on July 31.
“What’s been important for Summit County is that there’s been a voice at the table to represent our interests as a headwater community,” Blanchard said.
Prior to his election, Blanchard served on the Lower Blue Planning Commission, the county’s zero waste advisory group and as a board member for Lake Dillon Preschool. He was also the executive director of the Lake Dillon Theatre Company, now named Theatre SilCo.
Blanchard said those experiences help prepare him for his new role as a leader in the state’s arts economy.
“The creative industry is among the top economic drivers for the state of Colorado,” Blanchard said. “The creative sector has been disproportionately affected post COVID … audiences have been slower to return to art shows and live performances and traditional aspects of the creative sector. So it’s a real focus in terms of the overall economy for the state.”
Following Blanchard’s resignation on Sept. 1, a vacancy committee will have 10 days to appoint his successor. Blanchard was elected as a member of the Democratic Party and, per state statute, the committee will select a member of that party to replace Blanchard. The vacancy committee is made up of 44 members of the Democratic Party’s central committee, including the precinct organizers, the district captains, elected officials who reside in the county and the party’s five officers.
The appointee will serve out the remainder of Blanchard’s term and will be eligible to run for election in November 2024.
Blanchard was elected as a resident of the county’s District 3, which includes the town of Silverthorne. To reflect recent population changes, commissioners recently approved a new commissioner district map that includes parts of Frisco along North Summit Boulevard as well as Copper.
An appointee will have to reside in that district, though commissioners represent the county at-large.
“I do trust the process,” Blanchard said. “It’s there to ensure that the person who takes the seat will be placed by the representatives who chose me.”
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