MEEKER I In what has proven to be a hotly contested race during the last few months, all three incumbent candidates for the Meeker Fire Board—Rick Dodds, Sherri Halandras and Doug Overton—were reelected last night by wide margins at a special election held at the Meeker Fire House.
The polls opened at 7 a.m. and closed promptly at 7 p.m. Voter turnout was strong throughout the day right up to closing. One voter, in fact, was only about 15 seconds late but had to be turned away with an understanding apology.
According to election official Dawn Jastrem, “This was a very good turnout for a special election like this.” Out of about 2,500 registered voters, 573 ballots were counted, which translates to almost 23 percent.
Those numbers not only reflect the turnout at the polls, but also include the UOCAVA votes. UOCAVA refers to the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. People covered under the act include: members of the seven Uniformed Services, members of the U.S. Merchant Marine, eligible family members of the same, U.S. citizens employed by the federal government residing outside the United States and other private citizens residing outside the U.S.
Incumbent Rick Dodds, who has served on the board a little less than two years, filling an open position in May of 2014, received 476 votes, the most of all the candidates, in fact. He had this to say about not only his victory but the other incumbents as well: “I would like to express my heartfelt thank you to the people who reside in the Rio Blanco Fire Protection District for their support for Doug, Sherri and myself. You’ve shown in a huge way that you believe in us and our volunteers. I appreciate everyone taking time to vote. Thank you again for your support and confidence.”
Receiving 453 votes, Doug Overton, who was a volunteer chief for 10 years and on the fire department for 22 years, also commented: “I am humbled. I appreciate everybody’s vote and their confidence, and I’m going to try to do them a good job.”
Sherri Halandras, a former EMS worker who has served on the board for four years, received 439 votes and also voiced her appreciation: “I want to thank everyone who voted for me. I want to do the best job I can.”
As for the challengers, David Cole received 165 votes, the most of any of the challengers, and both David Luzmoor and Jamie Cogswell each received 107 votes.
There are challenges ahead for the Meeker Fire Board, selecting a new fire chief heading the list. The election results, however, indicate who the voters think are the best people to meet those challenges.