By John Colson
Sopris Sun Correspondent
Carbondale Trustee A.J. Hobbs, who has served roughly half of his four-year term, announced last week that he will be stepping down “some time in early September” in order to attend courses at the Crestone Healing Arts School in the San Luis Valley area.
Hobbs, 30, was elected in 2014, the same year as his fellow trustee, Katrina Byars, and under ordinary circumstances Hobbs would have been up for reelection in 2018.
Following the recent municipal election, in which three new trustees were elected, and the resignation of former Mayor Stacey Bernot earlier this year, Byars and Hobbs, along with two-term Trustee Frosty Merriott, represented the remaining institutional memory on Carbondale’s Board of Trustees.
All that has now changed.
“I have been accepted (to attend the Crestone school) where I will spend the fall studying massage and Chinese medicine,” Hobbs wrote in a June 23 email to his five colleagues on the board of trustees (Bernot resigned her job because she moved out of Carbondale, leaving a board of six members).
Following course work at Crestone, Hobbs said, he will “be moving to Spain indefinitely, until I am fluent in Spanish.”
Hobbs reported he had already alerted Town Manager Jay Harrington about the matter, and expressed the hope that “the board (of trustees) will have some flexibility on choosing to nominate a trustee for the position or put the position up for election on the November ballot.”
Harrington, however, said on Monday that he was still doing research to see what the trustees’ options are regarding either appointment or election to fill Hobbs’ post.
The findings of that research, he said, were to be reviewed by him, town attorney Mark Hamilton and the trustees at the June 29 board meeting, which was too late to be reported by the Sopris Sun.
Hobbs wrote that he was “grateful” for having had the chance to serve on the board, and added, “I look forward to working together this summer to continue to improve and progress our community.”
He wrote that the “biggest thing I am working on now is updating our ‘sustainability plan’ with the E-board and CLEER/CORE [Clean Energy Economy for the Region, and the Community Office for Resource Efficiency].”
Hobbs ended his e-mail with what he termed “my advise for the new trustees,” Ben Bohmfalk, Dan Richardson and Marty Silverstein: “take action now, do not hesitate, two years goes by in the blink of an eye.”
In a telephone interview with The Sopris Sun, Hobbs said he had been thinking about the matter for some time.
“I’ve had that massage school on my radar for as long as I’ve been a trustee,” he said, explaining that the school is contemplating a move out of state, “so I’d better go now.”
Although he conceded that he felt some hesitation about leaving the board now, he said he talked it over with his fellow trustees, which put his concerns to rest.
“I feel very comfortable with the board, and where the community is at,” he said, predicting that the town will “produce a good candidate” to replace him.
Hobbs also explained that he was traveling in Canada about five years ago when he learned that the dispute over gas drilling in the Thompson Divide was heating up, and felt compelled to come back to Carbondale.
“That was my main motivation for coming back,” he said, “to protect the Thompson Divide.”
With the recent news that federal land managers plan to cancel all the drilling leases in the Thompson Divide, he said, “I felt complete in my obligation.”
Published in The Sopris Sun on June 30, 2016.