A virtual election smorgasbord | AspenTimes.com

A virtual election smorgasbord

Charles Agar

The November election gives Pitkin County voters big choices: legalize marijuana, define same sex relationships, fund or deny local programs and fill important state and local offices.Election day is Nov. 7, and the last day to register to vote is Oct. 10.The list of referenda and proposed amendments to the Colorado constitution this November is long and compelling.Voters have a choice to enact the “Colorado Domestic Partnership Benefits and Responsibility Act,” which would change state statues to give same-sex couples the same legal protection, responsibilities and benefits as married couples. Another measure on the ballot would create a Constitutional amendment that limits the meaning of “marriage” to a union between one man and one woman.Reggae artist Bob Marley said “Legalize it; don’t criticize it?” And voters in Colorado get to decide for themselves if adults, from age 21, should be allowed to legally possess up to an ounce of marijuana. Under the proposed amendment, growing, selling, using in public, and driving under the influence of marijuana would still be an offense, but possession of small amounts of pot for personal use would be legal.Other amendments would raise minimum wage, focus public school expenditures on student achievement, forbid employers from claiming wages paid to undocumented workers on taxes, and extend legislation which exempts disabled veterans from paying property taxes.Coloradans will also elect a new governor, secretary of state, and attorney general. Pitkin County voters will vote to select two county commissioners, two new county commissioners, a county assessor, a clerk and recorder, and a sheriff. They also will be voting in a contested election for the state Senate, which pits Aspen-area resident and Democrat Gail Schwartz against longtime GOP Senator Lew Entz.Mick Ireland will step down this year as commissioner in District 2. Former Commissioner Jim True and current Aspen City Councilwoman Rachel Richards will compete for the seat. Patti Clapper, currently on the Pitkin County board representing District 1, is seeking re-election to a third term over challenger Tim Mooney.Bob Braudis hopes to earn his sixth term as sheriff, holding off challenger Rick Magnuson, Aspen community safety officer.Voters have choices in a number of ballot initiatives, including an increase in special taxes collected in support of the Healthy Community Fund and the Open Space and Trails Program. Both the city of Aspen and the town of Basalt propose new sales taxes.In Eagle County, an open seat on the board of commissioners pits Democrat Sara Fisher against Republican Tom Edwards and independent Roger Brown.The last day to register is Oct. 10, at the county clerk’s office, any driver’s license center or other authorized voter registration center.Charles Agar’s e-mail address is cagar@aspentimes.com.