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Dacono council fails to hire interim attorney in special meeting

Dacono council fails to hire interim attorney in special meeting


Dacono’s divided city council failed to hire a questionable interim city attorney during a special meeting on May 10. 

The council interviewed Rick Samson, the former town attorney from Frederick, for the interim post. Despite earning enough votes to be appointed, Samson declined the position because his support was not unanimous. Council member Doris Crespo was the lone vote in opposition to Samson’s appointment while Mayor Adam Morehead also voiced concerns. 

“We are not willing to work for a divided council in terms of our representation. Payton [Buhler] is not that old, but I am too old to deal with that,” Samson said, referring to an attorney from Fort Collins that he would partner with to represent Dacono. 

“It takes trust on all of our parts, and I don’t think that’s here,” Samson said. 

Dacono has been without a city attorney for almost a month after attorney Kathleen Kelly’s resignation became official on April 15. Kelly initially submitted her resignation in February following the abrupt firing of former city manager A.J. Euckert, and gave the council 60 days to hire her replacement. 

Samson said he was invited to the special meeting by council member Jackie Thomas, one of the four council members who voted to remove Euckert. Thomas said during the meeting that Samson had a lot of experience as a real estate attorney, and could help bring more development to Dacono. 

Samson was also part of a situation in Frederick in August 2018 that is similar to the one Dacono is going through now. In 2018, Frederick’s board of trustees voted 3-2 to fire city manager Matt LeCerf during a meeting. There was just one problem–the vote didn’t count because Frederick’s charter requires a unanimous vote of the trustees to remove the city manager. 

The move had its intended effect, however. By November 2018, LeCerf had resigned and Frederick had to pay him a healthy severance package that included 13-months of pay, health insurance, and a letter of recommendation, 9News reported. 

Morehead questioned Samson about LeCerf’s firing during the meeting on May 8. Samson replied that he “didn’t do enough” to prevent LeCerf from being fired. Samson added that he was informed about the vote about 10 minutes before the meeting and didn’t think to tell the trustees about the relevant town code. 

“I simply didn’t remember that provision,” Samson said.

Morehead and Samson also disagreed on some key points regarding the city attorney’s work during the interview. For instance, Morehead and Samson disagreed on who the city attorney is supposed to represent. Morehead said he thinks the city attorney’s primary responsibility is to protect the city. Samson said his job is to represent “the board or trustees,” presumably alluding to the Weld County Board of Commissioners.

“I take direction from the Commission,” Samson said. “The practical effect is that direction has come from the Mayor or the City Manager,” adding that he would not take direction from “individual council members or trustees.”  

Morehead also questioned Samson’s connection to John Lee, a developer and president of all three Sweetgrass Metro Districts in Dacono

Samson stated that he had represented Lee in the past and that as city attorney he would treat Lee “just like everyone else.” 

Concerning the upcoming recall election on June 27, Samson said he would not actively be involved other than by assisting the special counsels who are working on the case.  

The next regular city council meeting is scheduled for May 22.  



Robert Davis
Robert Davis is an award-winning freelance journalist in Denver who writes about housing, homelessness, and poverty for several local and national publications. His work has appeared in Denver Voice, The Progressive Magazine, Invisible People, and many more.

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