Tuesday's Montezuma County Commissioners meeting had a large audience of community members. Tensions around the county have been heating up since the news of the new contract between the county and Gene Williams, the Speedway Race Promoter. Gene, who has been leasing the property for 3 years, requested a new contract. The new contract consisted of changes which to most who read it called it unreasonable.
Dozens of community members addressed the board at Tuesdays meeting. Many of the comments left few dry eyes to those who listened in. There were recounts of touching stories on how Gene had helped so many of our youth through the operations of the race track. Moms and Dads were often seen turning to look at Gene as they spoke to the commissioners.
Pleas to the commissioners consisted of "try and find a way to negotiate the contract so Gene can stay and provide this for us," and "fix the problems with the Speedway contract, we don't need to rehash what was or wasn't done, we don't need to hear the blame game, that serves no purpose," and finally "there is always a solution to a problem."
Gene addressed the board and requested a "fair and reasonable contract, let's set our differences aside." He stated that the contract deadline was not until April 2022. All seemed well as the commissioners listened to the dozens of people who came to speak on behalf of the contract and Gene. That seemed to change after the commissioners took a break for lunch and returned. The commissioners touched on the history of the racetrack and how the county's previous administrators and commissioners all conducted business with the same conditions with all the previous promoters that leased the racetrack. None of the commissioners spoke about the contributions Gene had given our youth or the outcry from those who attended that morning.
Although earlier stated by one of the commissioners the contract was negotiable, that was never addressed again. Jim Candelaria stated, "lets be real clear...we're not trying to get rid of the racetrack." As the commissioners concluded the discussion about the contract someone from the audience asked, "how do we get on the agenda?" Clearly some in the audience were not accepting of the commissioners decision. Commissioner Joel Stevenson inquired about getting funding from the county for the race track on a public ballot vote, where Kim Percell, the County Clerk, told the commissioners that it was too late to be on this year's ballot but was willing to help get it on next year's ballot. It may have been difficult listening in, and understanding what was the topic of discussion. To the commissioners it seemed to be about history of the speedway and money, to the people attending it was about negotiating a contract and keeping Gene as the speedway promoter.
As community members left the meeting you could hear much talk in the hallway. The determination by many was that this was far from over and that the commissioners did not listen to the voice of the people.
(The Cortez Chronicles reached out to the Montezuma County Commissioners for a statement, as of publication they have not responded)