Turley quits … again

By on June 12, 2015

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Melissa Turley will step down from the Board of County Commissioners at the end of the month, The Planet verified today. The surprise news came less of an announcement and more of an unintended leak.

Sources at the county say the timing slip left Turley scrambling to do damage control today as word leaked via the Twitter account of Teton Village Association where it was announced Turley would become the organization’s new executive director beginning in July. Turley finally made a formal statement and tendered her official resignation at 1 p.m. today, two hours after the tweet went viral.

“It was a difficult decision to leave the county commission, but these sorts of opportunities only come up every 20 years,” Turley said in a prepared statement via the county. “This move is great for me and for my family and the new role allows me to continue to work in local government while applying my collaborative skills and knowledge in another part of our community.”

Turley did not return calls for further comment.

According to state statutes, Turley’s replacement will be voted on by the remainder of the board, minus Turley, from a list of three Democratic candidates supplied by county party leaders. Vice chair Mike Welch said the news came too suddenly for him to comment on. He promised a statement over the weekend.

The list of likely Democratic candidates will not include the Dem’s top vote getter to miss the cut at last year’s general election. Incumbent Ben Ellis missed out on a seat by 223 votes behind Smokey Rhea who secured the last spot on BCC.

“I ran and I lost an election. I think I’m done,” Ellis said when reached for comment about Turley’s resignation. “Since I left the commission, personally, I am much happier. I understand the challenges that commissioners face trying to please a diverse group of people … often angry people.”

Ellis said he will be sorry to see Turley go and that the community would miss her efforts particularly on housing and transportation issues.

Incumbent Hank Phibbs, who lost a bid to return to the BCC in the 2014 primary, could not be reached for comment.

Today’s news marks the second time Turley has abandoned an elected position. She stepped down from the town council in the middle of her second term there in order to run for the BCC. Turley has been a commissioner since 2012. She is currently the board chair.

Search for Turley’s replacement will be immediate. The county has 15 days from today to receive a list of potential replacements from Democratic Party leaders.

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