Aspen and Pitkin voters: How much was your vote worth?
November 9, 2015
If you cast a ballot in favor of the Base2 Lodge, your vote was worth $34.49. A vote against it had a price tag of $4.44.
If you favored Aspen City Hall being used as a community center, your vote had a $10.56 value.
These temporary figures are based on campaign expenditures through Oct. 25, with the final issue committee reports due with the city of Aspen and state by Dec. 3. By then, the value of the votes will be even higher because of additional campaign spending starting Oct. 26.
Fueled by developer Mark Hunt's $50,000 contribution, Citizens for Aspen Alive, the group pushing the passage of the Main Street hotel, still couldn't overcome its opposition.
"I think that will cover it," Hunt said at the time of his donation, the sole one made to the pro-Base2 campaign.
By a nearly 2-1 margin, Aspen voters shot down the lodge. Tuesday's tallies showed 1,792 votes, or 62.8 percent, against Base2. Another 1,060 votes, or 37.2 percent, went in its favor, according to the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder's Office.
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Through Oct. 25, the pro Base2 group had spent $37,629 on campaign marketing and advertising, campaign finance reports with the city show. Dividing that total by the number of ballots cast in the lodge's favor — 1,060 — means the votes were worth nearly $35 each.
The pro-lodge committee's opposing group, Vote No on Base 2, spent $7,954 through Oct. 25, equating to $4.44 per vote.
"It's a strong statement," said Aspen resident Ward Hauenstein, who co-engineered a petition drive in the summer resulting in Base2 going to a vote. "And the bottom line is 63 percent of the people didn't want a hotel development at that location."
Another municipal question pertaining to the future use of the Aspen City Hall building had voters slightly preferring a community use over city offices at the structure — 1,396 voters favored community use; 1,313 preferred city offices. The question was advisory and not binding.
There was no opposing group to the community-use concept pushed by the issues group Citizens for Aspen's Community Center. That organization, thanks to a $15,000 contribution from Bruce Etkin, spent $14,822 on campaigning through Oct. 25, or $10.56 a vote.
Citizens for Extraordinary Healthcare, the advocates behind Aspen Valley Hospital's proposed mill-levy extension, spent $4,229 through Oct. 25, according to the secretary of state.
The 3,623 votes in favor the mill levy, which passed with ease, were worth $1.17. Medical staff at the hospital combined to pitch in $10,000 toward the campaign.
The campaign has a remaining balance that will go toward the hospital's fundraising arm, the Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation, said hospital spokeswoman Ginny Dyche. That balance was $11,650.21, according to the group's campaign finance report on file with the secretary of state. But it will be lower after expenses since Oct. 25 are tallied, Dyche said.
The cheapest votes came for passage of the Aspen School District tax, in which 3,119 ballots, more than two thirds, were cast in its favor.
Funding for Excellence had spent $1,040.75 through Oct. 25. That translates to 33 cents a vote.
Unofficial election results show that 5,703 of the county's 14,458 registered voters either mailed in their ballots or cast them in person. That's a voter turnout rate of 39.5 percent.
In last year's November midterm elections, 7,861 of the county's 15,595 registered voters cast their ballots for a turnout rate of 50.4 percent.
And in the November 2013 election, 4,865 of the county's 14,915 registered voters — that's a turnout of 32.6 percent — hit the polls, according to the Colorado Secretary of State's office.