Ouray County commissioner governs from afar

Ouray County Plaindealer: Anyone who has attended Ouray County commissioners’ meetings since August may have noticed something out of the ordinary: One of the elected officials attends the meetings on a computer screen, participating virtually, from more than 2,000 miles away.

Nearly three years after the previous group of commissioners first adopted a policy allowing officials to attend meetings remotely during the pandemic, Commissioner Lynn Padgett is using her ability to govern from afar to pursue a master’s degree at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which will keep her out of the county until mid-December.

Padgett, who is paid more than $71,000 per year as a commissioner, has missed five meetings, joined at least four meetings late and attended the rest remotely for almost three months. While the pandemic initially prompted the county to adopt the hybrid-style meetings allowing remote participation, Padgett’s extended in-person absence is unprecedented.

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