| AspenTimes.com

Wolf reintroduction passes by slim margin as opposition concedes

DENVER — Colorado’s wildlife agency said Thursday it considers a ballot initiative to reintroduce the gray wolf into the state to have passed after a group that opposes the initiative conceded the race and the agency consulted with the office of Gov. Jared Polis.

An announcement by Colorado Parks and Wildlife that it would begin planning for an eventual restoration of wolves in the state came with the initiative leading — with thousands of ballots still uncounted — and after another group opposed to the initiative said it was not conceding.

Two opposition groups, Coloradans Protecting Wildlife and the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, issued statements Thursday saying it appeared that the initiative would succeed.

CPW spokeswoman Rebecca Ferrell said the wildlife agency, which had assiduously avoided taking any position on the initiative, issued its statement after consulting with the governor’s office.

“We had been holding, but with the Coloradans Protecting Wildlife concession this afternoon, along with the deluge of requests for comment, the Governor’s Office decided it was prudent to move forward with the statement sent,” Ferrell said an an email.

An email and telephone call seeking comment late Thursday from Polis’ office weren’t immediately returned.

“Nothing is final until the Secretary of State certifies the election results, but at this time, we believe the measure will pass. So yes, this is a concession from our campaign,” said Patrick Pratt, deputy campaign manager for Coloradans Protecting Wildlife.

Janie VanWinkle, president of the cattlemen’s association, said the group “remains committed to ensuring real science” guides wildlife policy and wolf reintroduction.

Other groups opposing wolf reintroduction didn’t concede. A top opposition group, the Colorado Stop the Wolf Coalition, said it was actively monitoring the vote count and will seek to fix any “no” votes rejected by elections officials because of signature discrepancies or other reasons, said Ted Harvey, campaign director for the Stop the Wolf PAC issue committee.

Colorado’s election results must be certified by Nov. 30. By late Thursday, the “yes” vote led the “no” vote by roughly 26,000 ballots out of more than 3 million counted — well above a threshold for triggering a mandatory recount.

Voters in metropolitan Denver and Boulder counties, who won’t be directly affected by any reintroduction, strongly supported the initiative, with rural voters casting ballots against it.

Supporters say it’s the first time that voters, rather than government scientists, are deciding whether to reintroduce the wolf, which once ranged across most of the U.S. before being hunted to near-extinction.

The Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund, which sponsored the initiative, said Thursday it believed the initiative had passed because votes yet to be counted in metropolitan areas east of the Divide would produce a formal “Yes” vote.

“This isn’t about the margin of victory,” said Rob Edward, head of the fund’s campaign. “Now it’s time to get on with the hard work of fashioning a future for the wolves that we coexist with.”

Proposition 114 would direct state wildlife officials to develop a plan to reintroduce wolves, once hunted into near-extinction, on public land west of the Continental Divide in Colorado before 2024. Ranchers, business chambers and rural governments strongly opposed the initiative, saying it would threaten livestock and Colorado’s lucrative hunting industry for elk and deer, key prey for the wolf.

Asked if any reintroduction process could trigger litigation, Pratt, of Coloradans Protecting Wildlife, said: “We have not ruled out any available options at this time.”

The gray wolf has been successfully restored in several U.S. states, including in Idaho and in Yellowstone National Park 25 years ago. Because of government-sponsored hunting, trapping and poisoning, the wolf disappeared in Colorado in the 1940s.

Proponents argue that reintroducing wolves would restore balance to an ecosystem severely altered in their absence by oversized big game herds.

About 6,000 gray wolves live in the Northern Rockies, the Pacific Northwest and the Western Great Lakes regions.

Pitkin County election results: Updated numbers from nearly 12k ballots

A look at the update numbers for Pitkin County only results as of Wednesday. Pitkin County Clerk & Record said there will not be another update until the finals numbers are sent to the state within eight days of the election.

There were 11,956 ballots cast of 13,774 active Pitkin County voters. For more information, go to pitkinvotes.com:




Joe Biden 8,906 (75.29%)

Donald Trump 2,739 (23.15%)

U.S. Senate

John Hickenlooper 8,688 (74.02%)

Cory Gardner 2,890 (24.62%)

U.S. House District 3

Diane Mitsch Bush 8,614 (73.71%)

Lauren Boebert 2,790 (23.87%)


School Board District 3

Mayling Simpson 7,953 (71.15%)

Joyce Rankin 3,225 (28.85%)

House District 61

Julie McCluskie 8,332 (73.93%)

Kim McGahey 2,938 (26.07%)

Pitkin County

Commissioner District 3

Greg Poschman 8,903 (100%)

(ran unopposed)

Commissioner District 4

Steve Child 7,459 (71.69%)

Chris Council 2,945 (28.31%)

Commissioner District 5

Francie Jacober 7,603 (72.42%)

Jeffrey Evans 2,895 (27.58%)

Snowmass Village


Bill Madsen 898 (54.1%)

Tom Goode 762 (45.9%)

(2 open seats)

Alyssa Shenk 1,104 (37.06%)

Tom Fridstein 608 (20.41%)

Jeff Kremer 511 (17.15%)

Matthew Owens 483 (16.21%)

Gary Warr 273 (9.16%)


Justice of Colorado Supreme Court

Melissa Hart

Yes 7,412

No 1,564

Justice of Colorado Supreme Court

Carlos A. Samour

Yes 7,211

No 1,633

Colorado Court of Appeals Judge

Ted C. Tow III

Yes 6,821

No 1,807

Colorado Court of Appeals Judge

Craig R. Welling

Yes 6,801

No 1,811

District Court Judge — 9th Judicial Court

Denise K. Lynch

Yes 7,379

No 1,412


Snowmass Village Ballot Issue 2A
Extension of property tax for educational purposes

Yes 1,362 (76.95%)

No 408 (23.05%)

Aspen Ballot Issue 2B
Extension of existing 0.3% sales tax for educational purposes

Yes 3,647 (78.7%)

No 987 (21.3%)

Aspen School District Ballot Issue 4A
$94.3 million bond

Yes 6,333 (73%)

No 2,342 (27%)

Starwood Metropolitan District Ballot Issue 6A

Yes 45 (59.21%)

No 31 (40.79%)

Colorado River Water Conservation District Ballot Issue 7A
Property tax for to safeguard western Colorado water

Yes 8,940 (79.58%)

No 2,294 (20.42%)

Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District Ballot Issue 7B
Mill levy extension

Yes 477 (72.27%)

No 183 (27.73%)


Amendment B
Repeal Property Tax Assessment Rates

Yes 8,204 (75.12%)

No 2,717 (24.88%)

Amendment C
Charitable Bingo and Raffles Amendment

Yes 5,241 (46.41%)

No 6,051 (53.59%)

Amendment 76
Citizen Requirement for Voting

Yes 5,241 (46.41%)

No 6,051 (53.59%)

Amendment 77
Local voter approval for gaming limits

Yes 7,442 (68.87%)

No 3,364 (31.13%)

Proposition EE
Tax on nicotine liquids

Yes 9,440 (82.87%)

No 1,951 (17.13%)

Proposition 113
National Popular Vote Interstate Compact

Yes 8,008 (70.94%)

No 3,281 (29.06%)

Proposition 114
Gray wolf reintroduction

Yes 6,909 (61.74%)

No 4,281 (38.26%)

Proposition 115
22-week abortion ban

Yes 2,444 (21.77%)

No 8,785 (78.23%)

Proposition 116
State income tax rate reduction

Yes 5,446 (48.29%)

No 5,832 (51.71%)

Proposition 117
Voter Approval Requirement for Creation of Certain Fee-Based Enterprises

Yes 4,117 (39.55%)

No 6,293 (60.45%)

Proposition 118
Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program

Yes 7,760 (69.89%)

No 3,343 (30.11%)

Hanlon concedes Senate District 8 race after margin moves to Rankin’s favor

The close race for Colorado Senate District 8 is decided, and incumbent Republican Sen. Bob Rankin has won formal election to the seat that he was appointed to fill last year.

His challenger, Democrat Karl Hanlon, called Rankin Thursday morning to formally concede and offer congratulations.

“I got into this race to bring a new voice to rural Colorado and fight for working families on issues that matter to them,” Hanlon said in a message posted to his campaign Facebook page. “I’m really proud of the work my team has done to get us this far and all the supporters throughout the district who believed in a vision of change.

“While I wish the outcome had been different, I remained heartened by the tens of thousands of voters in Senate District 8 who made their voices heard,” Hanlon concluded.

With ballots still being counted Wednesday and early Thursday in the seven counties that make up SD 8, Rankin’s lead grew past the margin that would have triggered an automatic recount.

Vote tallies reported by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, as of just before 9:30 a.m. Thursday, gave Rankin 50.59% of the vote to Hanlon’s 49.41%, with 986 votes separating the two.

As of the Thursday morning report, Rankin had a total of 42,128 votes to Hanlon’s 41,142.

“I’m very humbled after going through this campaign, and know you should never take for granted the opportunity to serve,” Rankin said Thursday of earning the voters’ nod to keep the senate seat.

“My main issues really had to do with the state of the economy because of the COVID impact, which is not good,” said Rankin, who serves as the senior member on the state Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee. “There is a responsibility with that to help lead the discussion.”

Starting next week, the JBC will be having full-day meetings to start working on the budget and related bills. Rankin also applauded voter approval of Amendment B, repealing the Gallagher Amendment, which he said will go a long way to help with state education funding and help special districts maintain their tax bases.

That’s especially important for fire districts and the special Colorado Mountain College District, which stood to be severely impacted in coming years under Gallagher’s restrictions on maintaining residential property tax rates in Colorado.

Rankin said he also plans to introduce a new bill, titled Wildfire Mitigation, Detection and Suppression, which would dovetail with Gov. Jared Polis’s initiatives to better address wildfire protection in the state after a record wildfire season.

Recount averted

In close races, state law requires an automatic recount if the margin is within 0.5%. The margin between Rankin and Hanlon stands at 1.18% after the latest vote totals.

Senate District 8 includes Garfield, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt, Grand, Jackson and Summit counties.

“We knew it was going to be close, especially with 40% unaffiliated voters now in the district,” Rankin said late Wednesday afternoon. “We knew we had to get some of those votes to win.”

Rankin congratulated Hanlon on a “hard-fought campaign,” but decried some of the outside negative advertising directed at him.

“Karl and I had a civil campaign, but there were a lot of negative mailers, and that could have made a difference,” Rankin said of the close election.

Hanlon had taken the early lead Tuesday night based on returns from the mountain resort areas, but the race narrowed as returns came in from the more-conservative western parts of the district.

“This is a district that is really focused on the issues, and is trying to find a way to the candidate who can represent them on the issues that are really important to people,” Hanlon said on election night.

“I had always said when we talked about this race during the campaign that it would come down to a couple hundred votes,” Hanlon added in a follow-up interview on Wednesday.

Returns had Hanlon, from Carbondale, winning in Routt and Summit counties, while Rankin had the edge in Garfield, Rio Blanco, Moffat, Grand and Jackson counties.

Rankin, also from Carbondale, formerly served nine years in the state House of Representatives. He sought election to the SD 8 seat he was appointed to in January 2019, replacing disgraced former Sen. Randy Baumgardner who retired after sexual harassment allegations and a subsequent investigation.

Rankin defeated Debra Irvine of Breckenridge in the June Republican primary. He serves as the senior member of the Joint Budget Committee.

His wife, Joyce Rankin, won reelection Tuesday to the state Board of Education from Colorado’s Third District over Democrat Mayling Simpson of Steamboat Springs.

Hanlon is a municipal and special district government and water attorney, who currently serves as the contract city attorney for Glenwood Springs.

He and his wife, Sheryl Barto, run the Smiling Goat Ranch, which provides equine therapy services for autistic children and veterans with PTSD.

Hanlon ran for the 3rd Congressional District seat in 2018, losing in the primary to Diane Mitsch Bush. He won this year’s primary for the state senate seat over Democrat Arn Menconi of Eagle.


“We knew it would be tight”: Colorado wolf reintroduction riding on razor-thin vote margin

The tightest statewide race of the 2020 election in Colorado was about wolves. 

As counties meticulously counted dense ballots on Wednesday, Proposition 114 remained close, hovering, at points, within hundreds of votes of an automatic recount. 

The measure that would task Colorado Parks and Wildlife with creating a gray wolf reintroduction plan by the end of 2023 was slightly ahead the day after the election. A gap of 7,600 votes early Wednesday grew to more than 10,000 votes by midday but then fell to 8,800 votes by afternoon. By late Wednesday, the gap reached almost 13,000 as more Front Range county votes were tallied.

Colorado law says a recount comes when the gap between the high vote and the low vote is equal to or less than 0.5% of the highest vote tally. Early Wednesday, as votes trickled in county-by-county, the recount target was as close as 700 votes and as far as 3,700 votes. 

“We knew it would be tight, based on our own polling,” said Terry Fankhauser, the executive vice-president of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, an opponent of Proposition 114. “We knew there would be a handful of counties that would show favorable support and they are everywhere wolves won’t ever be.”

Read the full story via The Colorado Sun.

The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported news organization dedicated to covering the people, places and policies that matter in Colorado. Read more, sign up for free newsletters and subscribe at coloradosun.com.

Colorado ballot measure roundup

There are 11 ballot measures for Colorado voters this year. Here is a roundup of reports from The Associated Press, The Denver Post and The Colorado Sun on where those issues stand as of 8 a.m. Wednesday:


Colorado voters decided they would like to change the Gallagher Amendment and have said yes to changing the property tax assessment rates. 

The amendment to the Colorado constitution will repeal the requirement that the general assembly periodically change the residential assessment rate in order to maintain the statewide proportion of residential property as compared to all other taxable property valued for property tax purposes and repeal the nonresidential property tax assessment rate of 29 percent.

Voters were favoring the change 57.47% to 42.54% Wednesday morning. 


One of the close ballot questions was the proposition to reintroduce gray wolves to Colorado. The proposition was leaning toward passing, but by barely 1 percentage point. The proposition was leading 50.17% to 49.83%.

The proposition was failing in most of the counties in western Colorado except for Pitkin (62% yes) and Summit (54.3% yes) counties. Counties on the northern Front Range pushed it on the yes vote as well.

If passed, the reintroduction would be on designated lands in Colorado located west of the Continental Divide and require the Colorado Parks and Wildlife commission, after holding statewide hearings and using scientific data, to implement a plan to restore and manage gray wolves. It would prohibit CPW from imposing any land, water, or resource use restrictions on private landowners to further the plan and requiring CPW to fairly compensate owners for losses of livestock caused by gray wolves.

Click here to read more about this tight ballot race.


The amendment to have charitable gaming licenses obtained after three years, not five years, was in jeopardy of not passing. While the yes votes were ahead 51.72% to 48.28%, it is one of the questions that must have a 55% majority to pass.


The amendment, which states only U.S. citizens over 18 may vote, is up by about 24% of votes in Colorado.

At 8:00 a.m. Wednesday, 62.65% of votes tallied were in favor of the amendment, compared with 37.35% against. About 79% of votes in the race had been tallied.

Federal and state law already dictate that only citizens may vote in federal and state elections, but the amendment would ensure that cities can’t allow non-citizens to vote in local contests.

In addition, it could roll back efforts to expand voting to those younger than 18. Since 2019, 17-year-olds who will turn 18 by the time a general election is held in November have been allowed to vote in party primaries ahead of that general election in Colorado. A bill in the most recent legislative session also would have allowed 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in school board races, but it never got to the floor.

It’s not clear if the amendment would override local control in cities with home rule.


It looks like the voters in Black Hawk, Cripple Creek and Central City will be able set the single-bet limits and the games that can be played at Colorado casinos.

The amendment, which went to state voters, was ahead nearly 59.77% to 40.23%.


Colorado voters overwhelmingly are in favor of a tax on smoking and vaping products for education and health programs. The state sales tax will collect up to $294 million annually, and it was leading 68.08% to 31.92%. 


A ballot measure that would enter Colorado into a pact with 14 other states and Washington, D.C., to assign the state’s Electoral College votes to the winner of the nationwide popular vote for president was leading Wednesday but the margin tightened as votes were counted.

With 79% of the vote tallied, Proposition 113 was leading with 52.39% support.

State lawmakers passed a bill in 2019 putting Colorado in the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, but that decision was challenged by a citizen initiative that put the final decision in voters’ hands this fall. A “yes” vote on Proposition 113 keeps the state in the compact while a “no” vote maintains the system Colorado has used for decades to choose a president: The candidate with the most statewide support receives all of Colorado’s electoral votes.

Colorado currently has nine electoral votes but is likely to pick up at least one more once the 2020 Census is complete.


A measure that would ban abortions in Colorado after 22 weeks of pregnancy, except in cases where the mother’s life is at risk, failed. 

Both supporters and opponents of Proposition 115 had predicted a tight battle over what supporters of the ban call “late-term abortion,” but opponents declared victory about an hour after the polls closed.

“We voted no because we trust patients and families to make the personal medical decisions that are right for them, without political interference,” Vote No on 115 campaign manager Lucy Olena told the Colorado Sun. “We voted no to keep Colorado a safe haven for abortion access because no one should have to cross borders to get the medical care they need.”

The measure went down 40.93% to 59.07%, according to unofficial returns but with about 79% of the vote tallied.

Coloradans have swiftly defeated three other ballot measures since 2008 that attempted to define a fetus as a person under the criminal code, but this question is different, targeting the point in pregnancy at which a fetus might survive outside the womb. 

Click here to read the full story about Proposition 115 getting voted down.


Coloradans are in favor of reducing the state income tax rate from 4.63% to 4.55%. In the results updated Wednesday morning, the proposition was leading 56.99% to 43.01%.


The proposition, which is a voter approval requirement for creation of certain fee-based enterprises, looked like it was on its way to passing. It was ahead 52% to 48%.

This would add a new TABOR-like provision to state law, requiring the state government to get voter permission before it creates major new “enterprises,” which are partially funded by fees.


Voters appeared to accomplish Tuesday what Colorado Democrats could not for the past six years at the state legislature: a statewide paid-leave program for workers who want time off to have a baby or care for a sick loved one.

The ballot measure was passing 58.1% to 42.9% according to early unofficial returns and 75% of votes tallied. In an update on Wednesday, the measure was passing 57% to 43% with almost 79% of votes tallied. It requires workers and employers to pay into an insurance pool run by the Colorado Department of Labor. Beginning in 2024, workers could apply to the fund to receive pay during time off from work, up to $1,100 per week. 

The program is for all workers, including state employees, people who are self-employed, and even gig workers who drive for Uber or food-delivery companies. Workers are eligible after they’ve earned $2,500 at their job. Businesses with fewer than 10 employees can choose not to participate and companies that already offer comparable paid time off for new babies or illnesses are exempt. 

Proposition 118 creates a $1.3 billion program that was hammered by opponents as a tax increase for employers and employees at a time when businesses are struggling. For supporters, though, the message was that there is no time like a pandemic to build a culture where employees get paid time off to care for someone who is ill.

Funding for the insurance pool is a 50-50 split between employee and employer, who each would contribute 0.45% of an employee’s wages. 

Coloradans barely howling for gray wolf reintroduction

Colorado voters are wary of wolves. 

Early voting results on Tuesday showed wolf reintroduction as one of the tightest contests on Tuesday’s ballot, with voters narrowly approving of Proposition 114. The measure would direct Colorado Parks and Wildlife to come up with a plan to reintroduce gray wolves to the Western Slope by the end of 2023. 

Proposition 114 was leading by less than 20,000 votes with more than 2.6 million votes counted by 9 p.m. on Tuesday night. The measure would have marked the first time that voters — not federal wildlife biologists — directed state officials to reintroduce wolves. Wolf reestablishment in the Northern Rockies, Arizona, New Mexico, North Carolina and Great Lakes region was done under direction of the federal government and the Endangered Species Act. 

The early voting results showed a split along urban and rural lines in Colorado, with voters in eight of 11 Front Range counties approving the measure while the state’s more rural counties on the plains and Western Slope leaned away.

Last week, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced the gray wolf was no longer protected under endangered species laws, meaning protection of wolves would transfer to states. (The delisting is expected to be challenged in court.)

Read the full story from The Colorado Sun

Colorado measure to ban abortion after 22 weeks fails

A measure that would ban abortions in Colorado after 22 weeks of pregnancy, except in cases where the mother’s life is at risk, failed Tuesday night.

Both supporters and opponents of Proposition 115 had predicted a tight battle over what supporters of the ban call “late-term abortion,” but opponents declared victory about an hour after the polls closed.

“We voted no because we trust patients and families to make the personal medical decisions that are right for them, without political interference,” Vote No on 115 campaign manager Lucy Olena said. “We voted no to keep Colorado a safe haven for abortion access because no one should have to cross borders to get the medical care they need.”

The measure went down 40% to 60%, according to unofficial returns but with about 75% of the vote tallied.

Coloradans have swiftly defeated three other ballot measures since 2008 that attempted to define a fetus as a person under the criminal code, but this question was different, targeting the point in pregnancy at which a fetus might survive outside the womb. 

Read the full story via The Colorado Sun.

Congressional District 3: Lauren Boebert secures win over Diane Mitsch Bush

Republican Lauren Boebert beat Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush in the race to represent Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District in Congress.

Statewide, initial polls show Boebert up 51% to 45.7% over Mitsch Bush. An estimated 88% of votes had been reported as of 12:25 a.m. Wednesday.

In Pitkin County, preliminary results show Mitsch Bush securing more votes, 8,614 to Boebert’s 2,790 votes, according to tallies from the Pitkin County Clerk & Recorder’s office at 12:09 a.m.

In a statement released at 11:15 p.m. Tuesday, Boebert’s said: “It is an incredible honor and privilege to win this election and have the opportunity to be the first mom to serve Colorado’s Third Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. I am so thankful to everyone who supported my campaign for freedom and prosperity.”

The Congressional race is indicative of national campaign trends, pitting a Democrat with years of legislative experience under her belt and a history of bipartisan voting against a political newcomer who has based her campaign on a promise to “drain the swamp.”

Mitsch Bush, a former state legislator and Routt County commissioner, has outraised and outspent her competitor but kept her campaign events virtual during COVID-19 pandemic, citing health concerns. She vied for the same seat in 2018 but lost to five-term incumbent Rep. Scott Tipton.

“The voters have spoken. I did not get enough votes to win,” Mitsch Bush said in state released at 12:10 a.m. Wednesday.

Boebert, a business owner with no prior political experience, has cast herself as a Donald Trump acolyte. She wears one of the president’s hats at nearly every campaign event she hosts. Like the staff of her Rifle restaurant, Shooters Grill, Boebert often carries a firearm on her hip and is a vocal champion of gun rights. She surprised establishment politicians by beating Tipton in the primaries. 

Adding to her reputation as a nontraditional candidate, Boebert has faced questions and news headlines over her arrest record, controversial comments on the QAnon conspiracy theory and inquiries over unpaid taxes on her business.

The 3rd Congressional District is a sprawling, red-leaning district that has been in Republican control for more than a decade. It spans from Routt County in the north down to Durango near the southern corner of the state and across the eastern plains to the city of Pueblo. It spans almost half of Colorado’s land mass and 29 of its 64 counties. 

Colorado Board of Education District 3: Republican Joyce Rankin leads in early returns

Incumbent Joyce Rankin, a Republican from Carbondale, held her lead over challenger Mayling Simpson, a Democrat from Steamboat Springs, in the 3rd Congressional District race for the Colorado State Board of Education.

Rankin had captured 54.3% of the vote, while Simpson earned 45.7%.

In Routt County’s early election results, Simpson was ahead of Rankin.

As of 10 p.m., Simpson had 8,964 votes, while Rankin had 5,754 votes.

While the race had not yet been called, Simpson was prepared with a concession statement.

“It was an honor and a privilege to run for the state board of education for CD3,” she said. “It was a team effort, and we did really well.”

At the Routt County Democrats virtual watch party, Simpson expressed gratitude for everyone who supported her.

“To say it was heartwarming is an understatement,” Simpson said. “It made my heart swell to see how supportive people were. I’m delighted with how well I did.”

Rankin said she would wait until the results were further along to comment, and that she was more focused on her husband’s much closer race.

Rankin’s husband, Bob Rankin, is running for reelection for the Colorado State Senate in District 8 and is currently trailing his Democart opponent Kari Hanlon.

Joyce Rankin also commended Simpson for her hard work and for a civil campaign.

The 3rd Congressional District is located in the western and southern region of the state, and includes Alamosa, Archuleta, Conejos, Costilla, Custer, Delta, Dolores, Garfield, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Huerfano, Jackson, La Plata, Lake, Mesa, Mineral, Moffat, Montezuma, Montrose, Ouray, Pitkin, Pueblo, Rio Blanco, Rio Grande, Routt, Saguache, San Juan, and San Miguel counties. It also includes a portion of Eagle County.

Rankin, 73, has held the seat since being appointed in August 2015 and is seeking a second term. Board members serve six-year terms.

Rankin taught elementary and middle school and served as an elementary principal. She has a master’s degree in elementary education with an administrative credential.

Simpson, 74, was elected to the Steamboat Springs Board of Education in 2017. She retired in 2019 when her husband accepted a position at the Virginia Military Institute.

Simpson has a doctorate in anthropology and also worked as a teacher at the high school and college level.

She spent most of her 40-year career abroad, living in eight different countries and working in public health and humanitarian assistance.

Simpson served as an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and was senior environmental health advisor at the World Health Organization.

 Her priority as a candidate for the state board was to be a voice for rural districts, as well as improving funding for schools and teacher salaries, raising graduation rates and expanding vocational training. She was also focused on ensuring the voices of teachers were heard at the state level.

Rankin’s priorities have focused on reading and improving reading instruction, specifically work being done through the READ — Reading to Ensure Academic Development — Act.

The READ Act requires benchmark testing of students in preschool through third grade to assess literacy skills, focused on the goal that all students will be reading by third grade.

Rankin also spoke about the opportunity the pandemic brought in terms of improving online education.

While a school district’s decisions are primarily made at a local level, the state board has been providing support for schools during the pandemic.

The board also holds schools accountable for poor performance and handles other administrative functions, including appointing the commissioner of education.

One of the primary divisions between the two candidates was in allowing taxpayer dollars to fund private schools through a voucher system. Simpson took a strong position against pulling away any funding from public schools to give to private schools.

Rankin supports the voucher system and allowing private education companies to step in to manage school districts that are failing.

These results are preliminary and not official.

Colorado House District 61: Julie McCluskie expected to be re-elected

Julie McCluskie has been reelected to serve a second term as the representative for Colorado House District 61, which includes Delta, Gunnison, Lake, Pitkin and Summit counties. 

Election results show McCluskie, a Democrat, leading her Republican opponent Kim McGahey with 60.7% of the vote. McCluskie received 73.9% of the vote in Pitkin County, as of 12:09 a.m. Wednesday.

“I am thrilled, excited, honored to earn the confidence of House District 61 voters,” McCluskie said Tuesday night. “This means so much to me, but I really want to emphasize this is about our communities, this is about working families, this is about the people that I represent. … While I am deeply honored, I know that we’re in a very difficult moment in our state and our nation, and we have work to do.”

The first item on McCluskie’s agenda is the state budget. As a member of the Joint Budget Committee, McCluskie will meet with members next week to review the newly released budget proposal and economic response to the pandemic. On election night, McCluskie said she is committed to working in a bipartisan way at the Capitol and equally committed to those who did and did not vote for her.

McCluskie attended Colorado State University and lives in Summit County’s Summit Cove with her family. She campaigned on her work on health care, education and climate change, and promised to continue working in these areas in addition to addressing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My priorities for the coming legislative session continue to be supporting a robust response to this public health emergency and feeding the state’s economic engine,” McCluskie said in a guest commentary she submitted to the Summit Daily News

Elected in 2018, McCluskie took office in January 2019 for her first term. During the 2019 legislative session, she was a prime sponsor of the reinsurance program, which lowered insurance premiums for most people purchasing on the individual marketplace. The program was created in 2019 and a funding source was secured in 2020 to extend the program for five years. 

McCluskie also sponsored a bill supporting free full-day kindergarten, carried a higher-education funding bill and was a co-sponsor of the climate action plan, a bill that sets statewide goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, McCluskie served on the 2020 Joint Budget Committee, which she said worked to protect essential social services amid $3.3 billion in cuts.

In her second term, McCluskie said she will continue her work on health care by protecting funding for community and family care clinics, school-based health centers and rural health care providers as well as investing in mental health services and increasing prescription drug pricing transparency.

On the education front, McCluskie plans to create a more equitable school finance formula that prioritizes student needs in the funding process. She said efforts to pay teachers and other school staff livable wages must continue. McCluskie also said she is committed to funding Colorado’s water plan, as budget cuts to the plan were made this year.

McCluskie’s opponent, McGahey, ran on a platform of being a conservative voice for the Western Slope. A University of Mount Union graduate, real estate broker and Breckenridge resident, McGahey wanted to bring “common sense” to the Capitol and prioritize defending police, protecting First and Second Amendment rights, promoting quality health care and curtailing the emergency powers of the governor.

McGahey did not return calls Tuesday night seeking comment on the election returns. 

Sharing concerns about Denver riots in his guest commentary submission, McGahey called on House District 61 residents to vote for him if they wanted to see law and order, safety and individual liberty protection. McGahey also advocated for the immediate reopening of the economy and getting people back to work, school and church.