Governor to replace Mesa County trustee

Govenor John Hickenlooper

The search is on for a new public trustee in Mesa County.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper announced in a news release that Paul Brown is among the public trustees who won’t be reappointed to their posts.

Hickenlooper asked all 10 appointed trustees in the state to resign after media reports detailed some of their spending practices and, in the case of Brown, a dispute over publishing foreclosure notices.

Hickenlooper reappointed trustees in five counties: George Kennedy in Douglas County, Thomas Mowle in El Paso County, Margaret Chapman in Jefferson County, Deborah Morgan in Larimer County and Susie Velasquez in Weld County.

New trustees were named for three counties: Paul Weissmann, a former legislator and house minority chief of staff, in Boulder County; Susan Orecchio, chief deputy public trustee, in Adams County; and Saul Trujillo, acting chief investigator in the 10th Judicial District, in Pueblo County.

That leaves vacancies in Mesa and Arapahoe counties.

“It is essential that public servants maintain the public’s trust,” Hickenlooper said. “We expect that moving forward each of these trustees will continue to do just that.”

Public trustees handle public transactions and foreclosures on real estate properties. Trustees also oversee the administration of deeds of trust, releasing deeds when a real estate loan has been paid off whether through refinancing, sale of the property or a final payment on a mortgage. In addition, trustees are responsible for the collection of tax accounts for land purchase contracts for deed.

Brown was embroiled in a dispute over his decision to switch publication of property foreclosure notices from the Daily Sentinel to the Fruita Times and Palisade Tribune. Brown said he made the change in part because of errors in notices that appeared in the Sentinel and the willingness of the weekly newspapers to publish electronically scanned notices. It was subsequently reported, though, that Brown signed a contract to publish the notices in the weekly newspapers a month before opening the process to competitive bedding.

Public trustees are either elected or selected by local officials in 54 counties in Colorado. In the other 10 counties. the posts remain political appointments of the governor. That could change, though, under legislation likely to be introduced in the upcoming session of the State Legislature.

Hickenlooper said he intends to seek legislative changes. “The changes will be proposed in concert with counties and members of the General Assembly,” the governor’s office announced in a news release. “No matter what form the legislation may take, it must maintain transparency, accountability and consistency among public trustees statewide.”