New faces join town trustees

By JEFF BURKHEAD
jeff@theheraldtimes.com
RANGELY I There will be some new faces on the town’s board of trustees, as well as some familiar ones.
Paula Davis was elected mayor of Rangely in Tuesday’s mail-in ballot election and Lisa Hatch was voted in as a new trustee. They join incumbents Clayton Gohr and Elaine Urie, who were re-elected.
Gohr was the top trustee vote-getter with 385, followed by Urie 364, Hatch 335, Ann Brady 273 and Edward Ballegeer 213.
Davis and the elected trustees will be sworn in at the next town meeting April 13.
“I’m ready to get going,” Davis said.
She replaces Brady, who was term-limited as mayor but ran for trustee. Brady finished fourth in the voting. The top three vote-getters for trustee were elected to fill the open seats on the town board.
In the voting for mayor, Davis had 334 votes, while Dan Eddy, who had been a member of the board of trustees, received 244 votes.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Davis said the morning after the election. “You’re so focused on the campaign, you forget what happens when it’s over.”
But Davis said she was ready to get down to business.
“There are things I want to do, and I hope I can do them,” Davis said. “I know one person can’t change things by themselves. I’ll have to establish a working relationship with the council, so we can move forward.”
As front-burner issues, Davis singled out housing, code enforcement and maintenance of town buildings, as examples.
Eddy congratulated his opponent and the other candidates.
“I would like to congratulate the successful candidates and thank those who supported and worked for me,” he said. “It has been a privilege serving the town for the last five years. But I am excited about having more time to spend with my grandchildren and riding my Harley.”
Fellow newcomer Lisa Hatch was on her way back from San Antonio, where she was visiting her brother who suffered a massive heart attack two weeks ago, when she was notified by phone that she was elected.
“I feel real good about it,” Hatch said. “There’s the excitement and there’s the I-have-a-lot-to-learn type thing. So, there’s the combination.”
Hatch, like Davis is looking forward to getting started.
“There will be good diversity (on the town board). I think mixed is good,” Hatch said. “There will be some with experience and there will be some new blood, which is good, because we’ll ask the stupid questions and bring a different perspective.”
Urie, who was re-elected, said there will be a learning curve for the new members.
“When you first get in there, you don’t really understand the real workings and it takes awhile to pick up on what’s going on.”
Overall, there were 589 ballots cast in the mail-in election.
“That’s a 65 percent increase over the last election,” said Town Manager Peter Brixius, who hoped the change to a mail ballot would increase voter participation. “It was a good way to assure us a stronger response and a more representative response.”
Brixius was also pleased to have contested races, saying competition was a good thing.
“I think the change and the diversity is always good for government, to have new ideas and new approaches to things,” he said. “I’ll certainly do everything I can to support the new mayor and the new councilwoman.”
Davis said the feeling was mutual.
“I think Peter is a good man and I think he brings a lot to the town,” the newly elected mayor said. “I think he’s managed to accomplish a lot in the two years he’s been here.”