Suckla wins District 3 commissioner seat

Campaign as unaffiliated candidate pays off


Larry Don Suckla will be joining Keenen Ertel as the two new members on the Montezuma County Commission in January after winning the District 3 commissioner seat in Tuesday’s election.

Unofficial results from the Montezuma County Clerk’s Office have Suckla with 5,324 votes, followed by Dewayne Findley with 4,627 and Greg Kemp with 1,606.

Suckla, 47, is a lifelong resident of Montezuma County and is co-owner of Suckla Auctions. His family has owned Cortez Livestock Auction since 1956.

Suckla, who didn’t know the final results until he checked the website of the Cortez Journal early Wednesday morning, called the win a humbling experience and added that he knows a huge responsibility comes with the job as commissioner.

Suckla ran as an unaffiliated candidate and had to petition his way onto the general election ballot. Findley won the Republican primary in late June. Kemp also ran as an unaffiliated candidate.

Suckla said the success of the campaign was due to the efforts of all his supporters. He also thanked his two opponents for running a clean campaign.

“Honestly, this is new to me as I was self-employed, and I now have 25,000 bosses,” he said of being elected to the commissioner position.

Suckla said he would like to speed up the zoning process, and one thing he will not do as commissioner is to get the county in financial difficulties.

He said as an auctioneer things are fast paced but added selling an item for $50 at an auction is much different than purchasing a tractor for $10,000 with taxpayer’s money, so the expense factor alone would require more time to look into matters like this.

He said he didn’t know what to expect in the election because this was the first time he has thrown his hat into the political arena.

“It is a stomach turner to say the least,” he said. “In running for this position I have seen how much people care about (Montezuma County).”

Running as an independent candidate enabled Suckla to see all sides of the issues, which, he said, was great.

“What was amazing, is the end result of what everyone wants is the same,” he said.

Findley, 64, earned the Republican spot on the ballot after winning the primary over Casey McClellan. Findley was hoping for a second go-round as county commissioner. Previously, he held the office from 2003-2006. He was not available for comment for this story.

Kemp said the election was a good experience and praised his opponents for running a dignified and well-mannered campaign, saying they need to be congratulated for that.

“Obviously, I am very disappointed,” Kemp said. “Clearly the voters in Montezuma County do not want a candidate who is responsive and reports back to them. I find that very disheartening.”

He said the voters decided they wanted a commissioner who will do the job like it currently is being handled instead of doing the job on how it is supposed to be done.

Ertel ran unopposed for the District 2 seat after winning the Republican primary over Bud Garner and Pat DeGagne-Rule in June.

The two commissioner seats are being vacated by Gerald Koppenhafer and Larrie Rule due to term limits.

Larry Don Suckla waits for results with his wife, Julie, Tuesday night at the Elks Lodge. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Larry Don Suckla waits for results with his wife, Julie, Tuesday night at the Elks Lodge.