Partridge plans to keep on working

Term-limited commissioner discusses the highs and lows of his eight-year tenure

Elliott Wenzler
ewenzler@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 1/11/21

Roger Partridge is not retiring. While his eight years as a Douglas County commissioner may be ending, the 63-year-old is anything but finished working. Soon, he will begin his new position with a …

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Partridge plans to keep on working

Term-limited commissioner discusses the highs and lows of his eight-year tenure

Posted

Roger Partridge is not retiring.

While his eight years as a Douglas County commissioner may be ending, the 63-year-old is anything but finished working.

Soon, he will begin his new position with a startup consultancy firm, he will assume seats on two community advisory boards and — to top it all off — he has a ranch to maintain.

The 35-acre property, Peartree Ranch, where he and his wife Nadine have lived for the past 25 years, is just west of Sedalia and is home to several horses, cattle and a variety of wildlife that roam the area.

“That’s what keeps me out of getting into mischievousness,” he said. “Having to take care of the animals and keep the ranch up. I enjoy that, I enjoy working outside and keeping things up.”

Speaking from his home in a video chat interview with Colorado Community Media, Partridge, who is term-limited, reflected on his time as a commissioner. From helping the county complete several major projects to a personal battle with a stage 4 cancer diagnosis, there have been many highs and lows throughout his near-decade as a county leader.

Partridge, who before being elected in 2012 was a physical therapist with his own practice in Castle Rock, focused primarily during his two terms on transportation solutions, open space projects, wildfire prevention and water conservation. 

In road projects, he helped oversee the completion of E-470; the expansion of the I-25 and Lincoln Avenue corridor; the added capacity and safety improvements on an 18-mile stretch of I-25 south, known as the gap; and the continued expansion and improvements of Highway 85, among other projects.

In 2017, Partridge, along with Commissioner Lora Thomas and then-commissioner Dave Weaver, acquired Sandstone Ranch, the 2,038-acre property that was once destined for development but now will remain as a protected natural area and trail system in perpetuity. Other open space projects during his term include the acquisitions of several properties, including Ditmars Ranch and the Martinez Property, and improvements to Prairie Canyon Ranch and Columbine Open Space.

In 2016, Partridge also aided in the creation of the Northwest Douglas County Water Project, a regional partnership that resulted in renewable water for existing homes and businesses in rural, northwest Douglas County.

During his tenure, the county contracted several helicopters and planes to respond to wildfires in the community. He also coined the slogan “hard, heavy, fast” as a response to wildfires.

“In the future if you see a fire … and you see it go out pretty quickly and it’s in Douglas County, you can say that was (Roger),” said County Manager Doug DeBord during a farewell tribute to Partridge on Jan. 7.

Following one of the county’s darkest-ever days, when a shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch left one student dead and eight others injured in May 2019, Partridge and his fellow commissioners allocated $10 million to school safety. 

“That character in dark times has been significant,” Commissioner Abe Laydon said about Partridge. “I never got the sense he was there to build his political credentials. It was to serve the public.”

Pandemic became crucial issue

During this past year, Partridge and his fellow commissioners have turned their attention to responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, doling out aid to local businesses and advocating for them to be able to reopen as soon as possible. Partridge and the other commissioners found themselves at the center of a controversy over the summer after they unanimously voted to end their contract with Tri-County Health Department in the next year following a mask mandate by the department. 

“The counties are mandated to provide public health. We certainly did not take that lightly,” he said. “That’s one thing we have never forgone is to keep public health as a high priority.”

Commissioners ultimately decided to remain with the agency after renegotiating the agency’s policies to allow more control by elected leaders.

Partridge says it feels strange to leave his post when the county is still in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, but he’s glad that the pandemic appears to be wrapping up.

“It’s still bizarre to see how much your attention has to go to this pandemic versus the typical things that you’ve had to deal with in government,” he said.

Partridge dealt with his own personal health crisis as well during his term when he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in 2018. During the county’s farewell tribute to Partridge, the commissioner’s battle with cancer was a major topic, as many friends and coworkers spoke about how he inspired them during that time.

“Your courage through your struggles with cancer were so admirable,” state Sen. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, said. “I’m sure there were times of pain and struggle that you didn’t allow us to see but your smile, your confidence, your grace during that time was such an example for me, my family and I think all the people of Douglas County.”

Partridge says the support he got during that time period was a big part of what kept him fighting to regain his health.

“It was so important to continue work because it gave you a purpose and a need,” he said.

Last summer, Partridge’s cancer went into remission.

George Teal, who has served as a Castle Rock Town Council member, will replace Partridge on the board and was scheduled to be sworn in Jan. 12.

Going forward

Partridge will not pursue higher office as a part of his next career moves, he said. Instead, he will be the head of operations at Gx Consulting, founded by Norm Steen, a former commissioner from Teller County. The company plans to connect business and government leaders with former local and state elected officials and government executives, according to a company press release.

He will also serve on boards of two community foundations, the Cherokee Ranch & Castle Foundation and the E-470 Foundation.

“I’m not ready to retire,” he said.

As colleagues and mentors spoke directly to Partridge during his farewell event, the longtime commissioner blotted his eyes with a tissue, smiled and nodded as kind words were spoken.

“It’s so clear your heart’s love is in this county and wanting to make it a great place,” Sheriff Tony Spurlock said during the event, which was primarily virtual. “We will miss you.”

Partridge spoke to the crowd of participants at the end of the event, thanking his family, the county staff and other elected officials around the county and state for their support during these years.

“We’re all in this together,” he said. “Thank you for the opportunity for eight years and God bless you all.”

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