Basalt doesn’t expect health crisis to interfere with April 7 election; ballots mailed Monday
Basalt town government isn’t expecting disruptions of its April 7 election for mayor and three council seats despite the coronavirus pandemic, Town Clerk Pam Schilling said Friday.
The election will be by mail ballot only and there will not be a polling place. Even before the health crisis erupted, the town had scheduled to handle the election by mail.
Ballots will be mailed Monday. They must be returned no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day, but preferably earlier. There is a drop box on the north side of Town Hall or ballots can be mailed back, as long as they arrive on time.
“It is anticipated that the election will be held without interruption,” said a statement from the town.
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Anyone who doesn’t receive a mail ballot or anyone with a general question about the election can call Pam Schilling at 970-279-4381 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This election will be the first time Basalt has ever used instant runoff voting to determine the mayor. The process was implemented with the 2002 Home Rule Charter but it has never been used because there were never more than two candidates in mayoral races.
This time around, there are three mayor candidates: Bill Infante, Bill Kane and Rob Leavitt. Incumbent Jacque Whitsitt cannot run again because of term limits.
The ballot will allow voters to rank their preferences for mayor. If no candidate receives 50% plus one vote in the initial count, the candidate with the least number of votes will be eliminated. The second-choice preferences on the ballots for the eliminated candidate will be awarded to the two remaining candidates to determine a winner.
The council election will run as it has historically. There are six candidates vying for three seats in an at-large election. The three candidates that receive the most votes win the seats. All terms are for four years.
The council candidates are Glenn Drummond, Tiffany Haddad, Elyse Hottel, David Knight, Jennifer Riffle and Kirk “Dieter” Schindler.
Election judges will count the votes for council by machine, as they have been traditionally, Schilling said. The votes for mayor will be counted by hand since the instant runoff voting process is being used. She is hoping to release results by 11 p.m. on election night, though timing is a bit of an unknown due to the new process.
As things stand now, election night might lose some of the usual drama. Basalt Town Council declared a local disaster emergency Friday. One of the results was closing town government buildings to the public.
“The closure will be reassessed weekly but will likely stay in effect through the end of March,” the town said in a statement. “During this time, our staff will be available to assist you but by phone or email only.”
If the prohibition gets extended into April, candidates would be unable to hover around Town Hall on election night waiting for results.
Basalt’s emergency declaration affects town government functions in several other ways. Residents are encouraged to pay utility bills by phone or mail. The phone number for payments is 970-927-4701. The mailing address is 101 Midland Ave., Basalt, CO 81621.
All municipal court appearances are postponed until May 1. Any scheduled court payments that are due can be paid by phone or mail to the say number and address as above.
Required meetings by the council, planning and zoning commission and advisory boards will be held via teleconference and other electronic means.
Building inspections and building plan reviews will continue to be held. They can be scheduled by calling 970-927-4702, ext. 9.
All recreation programs are suspended or canceled until further notice. Town parks will remain open. Public restrooms will be closed.
As always, the police department can be contacted at 911 for emergencies and 970-927-4316 for non-emergencies. Officers will minimize contact with the public, particularly in the police station, while the coronavirus threat continues.
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Basalt’s municipal election on Tuesday brought fresh blood to the town council. Four newcomers to elected office will be sworn in April 28.