Douglas County Commissioners’ bickering leads to a verbal free-for-all

Republican Lora Thomas was elected as a Douglas County commissioner in 2016 and re-elected in 2020

On April 23, a letter was sent to Douglas County Commissioner Lora Thomas, who has served in that role since 2016, informing her that “the Board of Douglas County Commissioners (BOCC), at a posted work session on April 19, 2021, decided to terminate your role as Chair of the Board, effective immediately.” The letter was signed, “Board of County Commissioners (BOCC).” It was penned by Thomas’ co-commissioners, Abe Laydon and George Teal. All three are Republicans.

In order to formally effectuate the ouster of Thomas from her position as chair of the BOCC, Laydon and Teal drafted a resolution doing so (Resolution 6822) and had it put on the agenda for the regular business meeting of the BOCC on April 27. 

Republican Abe Laydon was elected Douglas County Commissioner in 2018.

The April 23 letter from Laydon and Teal accused Thomas of the “frequent dissemination of misinformation and untruths which have been repeatedly verified by the County to you as categorically untrue.” It goes on, “You have continued to misrepresent the truth and leverage your name, title, and apparent authority as Chair of the BOCC for personal gain politically and for those that have contributed to your campaign.” The letter also says, “The distrust you helped create must end, as citizens need assurances that those who were elected to protect their interests are doing so,” and, “the board has also lost faith that your future representation as Chair of the Board would meet Douglas County needs moving forward. It is our sincere hope that you are able to take honest account of these challenges and chart a course to productive collaboration in the future.”

Republican George Teal was elected Douglas County Commissioner in 2020.

Commissioner Thomas responded on her personal website, saying, “At a time when your Douglas County Commissioners should be laser-focused on creating and implementing a successful recovery for our community businesses and hard-working families – two commissioners have instead chosen their misguided self-interests over the future fiscal health and wellbeing of our communities. And because I said NO and opposed their big government plans and fought to inform citizens of the truth – they have attempted to silence me. Throughout my long career serving Colorado and Douglas County citizens, my priorities have always been consistent; public safety, fiscal responsibility, education achievement, economic prosperity, and limited government. But on Monday, April 19, in a clumsy attempt to silence my voice, my fellow Republican County Commissioners Abe Laydon and George Teal voted to remove me as Chairwoman of the Douglas County Board without cause. In what was a planned effort, the two quickly made themselves Chairman and Vice-Chairman without any public notice or input. This action orchestrated by Laydon and Teal was apparently motivated by a frustration with my integrity and courage to oppose and criticize their poorly devised land schemes, financial boondoggles, and self-serving policy proposals that will grow the size of our county government and intrude into areas where government is not properly suited or belongs.” 

On April 24, a mediation between the BOCC members was held to resolve what Thomas termed “this embarrassing conflict.” On her Facebook page, she posted a photo of a letter and said, “I was presented with this by Abe Laydon (a “Letter of Public Apology and Recommitment to Govern with Excellence”); if I’d sign it, I would not be censured Tuesday (at the April 27 business meeting of the BOCC) and I’d be CONDITIONALLY reinstated to finish my year term as Chair. My response:” The photo of the letter was completely clear. The typed part, which was drafted and prepared by Laydon, according to Thomas, said, in part, “I, Lora Thomas, take personal responsibility for my actions and do hereby issue this public apology to the citizens of Douglas County, our county staff, and my fellow commissioners, Abe Laydon and George Teal, for character unbecoming a chair and an elected official in this county, including without limitation, false public statements…about my fellow board members…and for the harm to the public trust I have created by my actions.” 

Thomas did not sign the letter. Instead, she used a pen to handwrite on it, “I don’t work for Abe or George and I don’t Back Down from Bullies. Not signing this. Sincerely, Lora.”

Before becoming a county commissioner, Thomas spent 26 years with the Colorado State Patrol, where she rose to be the first female captain and then major. She was elected Douglas County Coroner in 2011 and county commissioner in 2016 and again in 2020. Thomas holds a criminal justice degree from Arapahoe Community College as well as MBA and finance degrees from Regis University.

Prior to his election as county commissioner, Abe Laydon, an attorney, served on the county’s planning commission and as an officer in the Douglas County Republican Party. George Teal is a military veteran, assistant scoutmaster, and software project manager who served on the Castle Rock Town Council prior to being elected county commissioner. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Northern Colorado and “has been active with the Douglas County Republican Party since 2000.” 

Publicly available information indicates that the quarrel that has resulted in this battle royal began with a dispute over who was going to respond to a media request received by the commissioners on April 16. It seems likely that that is not the whole story. Stay tuned.

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