Election season arrives

RBC I ’Tis the season for elections.
The town of Rangely has competitive races for the position of mayor as well as for three trustee seats on the town council. While on the other end of the county, the Meeker election was canceled when one of the candidates withdrew, meaning none of the three seats open on the town board was contested.
There are also elections going on in the county for hospital board and recreation board. And in Rangely, voters will be asked to decide whether to support a bond issue to build a new hospital. The date for the special district elections is May 4.
Meanwhile, three candidates are vying for one seat on the Rio Blanco County Board of Commissioners and four candidates threw their hat in the ring for the job of county coroner. All of the candidates are Republicans. Next week’s county assembly will have a role in how those races shake out.
The date for the town election in Rangely is April 6, but ballots were delivered to the post office March 19.
“There were approximately 1,450 ballots mailed out,” said Town Clerk Chris Brasfield. “Ballots can be mailed — postage was prepaid on the envelopes — or they can be dropped off at Town Hall.”
Ballots must be returned by 7 p.m. on Election Day.
“So far, I have received about 300 (ballots) back,” Brasfield said Monday. “I’ve got a bunch of undeliverables back, too, so anybody can come in and get a ballot if they didn’t get one.”
Even though the counting of ballots can, by law, begin 15 days before the election, Brasfield said she and election judges John and Teresa Sims, who have both been election judges in the past, will start counting ballots April 5, the day before the election.
“We have chosen to start the process the day before the election and won’t close out the machine until 7 p.m. on Election Day,” Brasfield said. “We will know the results once we close out the machine.”
Of the three-person ballot-counting process, two of the judges never see the ballot.
“The first two (judges) don’t even get to see the results,” Brasfield said. “The third person unfolds the ballot and puts it through the machine. Judges one and two never see the ballot, while No. 3 only sees the ballot and no name. A machine does the counting.”
Town Manager Peter Brixius said the choice to go with a mail-in election was done in the hopes of getting a better voter response.
“We could have done a traditional election where you come to the polling location and cast a vote, but my experience has been you get a much higher response with a mail ballot,” Brixius said. “We’ll probably see a 30 to 40 percent increase in response, which makes sense, because people can (vote) at their leisure.”
Current Mayor Ann Brady was term-limited, so she is unable to run for mayor again, though she is one of the five candidates for the town council. Paula Davis and Dan Eddy are competing for mayor, while Brady, Ed Ballegeer, Clayton Gohr, Lisa Hatch and Elaine Urie are vying for the three open seats on the council. Gohr and Urie are incumbents on the council, as is Eddy.
A sixth candidate for the town council in Rangely, Paul Tucker, withdrew from the race in March. He is an employee of the town.
“Our personnel policies expressly forbid employees to engage in areas that create conflicts of interest,” Town Manager Brixius said. “Paul is a very good employee and would be an excellent council person. The most significant issue that occurs when you’re an employee or the spouse of an employee is the number of decisions that a council person in this position would have to recuse themselves from. I think that this creates many conflicts of interest for a new council person and possibly a hardship for council and employees. I base this on legal counsel recommendations and the fact that other communities have specifically addressed this issue in their policies and procedures.”
For the hospital board in Meeker, there are six candidates for four open positions: Kris Borchard, Diane Dunham, Jeffrey Foster, Michael Hoke, Paul Sheridan and Todd Young. Borchard, Dunham and Sheridan are current board members. A fourth current board member, Dondi Glasscock, is not seeking re-election.
“The (Meeker) Recreation District and the hospital district will have an election for new board members. We both will be doing a polling-place election with each of us having our own ballot,” said Cindy Rholl, who is overseeing the hospital election.
The hospital and recreation board elections will be May 4 at the Fairfield Center in Meeker.
There are six candidates for the recreation board: Kris Arcolesse, Zach Clatterbaugh, Dale Hallebach, Thomas Kennedy, Jeannette Shepherd and Carly Schayer Thomson. There are three positions on the recreation board that are open. The seats are currently held by Hallebach, Joe Nieslanik and Beth Willey.
For the Rangely hospital and recreation boards, the elections were canceled.
“We had two positions up and only one nomination was returned, so our election was canceled,” said Paula Padilla of the Rangely Recreation and Park District. “Janet Mackay will serve another four-year term. The board will have to fill the other position in May by appointment.”
On the Rangely hospital board, the two incumbents whose terms were up — Marty Estes and Rob Mackey — are both running uncontested.