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No trend in 2001 elections

Brief by Central Staff

Local politics – December 2001 – Colorado Central Magazine

If there was a pattern in this year’s “off-year” election, it escaped us. Some tax increases passed, others failed. Some incumbents were tossed out, others were retained by substantial margins. So if you’re looking for one of those analytical “mood of the electorate” articles, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

In and around Salida, the big issue was the mill-levy override for School District R-32-J, to increase pay all across the board. It passed, but by only 20 votes: 1,769 to 1,469.

There was also a school-board election. For the only contested seat, incumbent Tim Glenn easily defeated challenger Kent Maxwell 2,404-729.

But it wasn’t entirely a good day for incumbents. In the only contested city council race, incumbent Dale Decatur came in third with 126 votes. Ron Stowell won with 394, and Vic Veltri was second at 242.

There were four candidates for city clerk; the new clerk, Janella Martinez, got 922 of the 1,832 votes cast.

City government in Leadville should become more interesting, now that there’s a Libertarian on the City Council — Carol Hill, manager of the Book Mine. With 84 votes, she defeated incumbent Virginia Espinoza (68) and another challenger, Steve Prestash (21).

The closest race in the Cloud City was for another council seat, with Ken Cary defeating Bill Korn by only 8 votes: 100-92. Reporter Reid Armstrong observed in the Herald Democrat that Cary “has only lived in town for a few years, rents his home, and works in town. That he beat out long-time resident and landlord Korn is perhaps a sign of changing times in Leadville.”

In one school-board contest, Jack Saunders defeated Ernie Kuhns 854-288. Saunders was the incumbent who gained his seat after Kuhns was recalled a couple of years ago.

Proposals to increase taxes usually don’t fare well in Park County, and this year was no exception. A county sales tax went down 1,931-933. But in town, the reverse held — Fairplay voters approved their own sales tax, 48-29, as did Alma, 46-24.

Custer County had a ballot proposal to eliminate districts for school-board seats and elect them all at-large. It failed 362-313. The only contested school-board race was to replace Rayna Bailey (a frequent contributor to these pages), who did not run for re-election. Charlie French defeated Becky Langston 470-169.

Colorado’s recent contribution to our vocabulary is the verb “to debruce.” It comes from Douglas Bruce of Colorado Springs, who pushed a tax-limitation initiative in 1992. Local governments can get an exemption from its limits by holding an election to “debruce,” and that’s what happened in Buena Vista by a 440-277 margin.

Local voting patterns generally matched the rest of the state on the two statewide issues — allowing the state to borrow money against lottery revenues to buy open space (which passed) and spending $50 million to study a monorail along the I-70 Sacrifice Zone (which failed).