Campaign spending adds up in Pitkin County |

Campaign spending adds up in Pitkin County

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Mitzi Ledingham takes advantage of early voting to cast her ballot at the Pitkin County courthouse annex building. Early voting ends Friday.

ASPEN – More than 35 percent of Pitkin County’s active voters have already cast their ballots for Tuesday’s election, including early voting and mail-in ballots received by Saturday. The lengthy ballot features a hotly contested county commissioner race, election of a new sheriff, a number of local spending issues and statewide contests among its questions.

Local voter turnout during early voting, as a percentage of total registered voters – both active and inactive (those who did not vote in the last general election) – was 26.3 percent, according to Dwight Shellman III, county election manager. That total includes mail-in ballots received through Saturday.

Statewide, close to a million people have already voted, Shellman reported.

The county clerk’s office has already received 3,639 ballots, including 1,828 mail-in ballots and 1,811 ballots cast during early voting, which ended Friday.

Among Pitkin County voters who had already cast their ballot, nearly 40 percent were active voters in the Democratic Party and almost 43 percent were active Republicans (“active” means voters who cast ballots in the last general election). About 28 percent of the county’s active, unaffiliated voters have also cast ballots already, as have 34 percent who declared some other party affiliation.

Those who requested mail-in ballots can continue to turn them in, or mail them in; they must be received by 7 p.m. Tuesday. Voting at the polls on Tuesday is from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. There is no early voting today.

The final weeks of the campaign, both locally and across the state, has subjected voters to hot and heavy advertising and “robo-calling.” Locally, county Undersheriff Joe DiSalvo, seeking election to the sheriff’s post being vacated by retiring Sheriff Bob Braudis, is by far the top spender among local candidates and issue committees.

In the latest spending report, due Friday, his campaign committee reported spending $1,947 between Oct. 7-28. That brings his total election spending, dating back to well before the August primary, to $48,723. His campaign war chest contained $3,101 for the final days before the election.

The committee for his opponent, retired lawman Patrick “Rick” Leonard, reported spending $929 in the latest reporting period, and $6,421 overall, leaving about $123 available in its coffers.

It what is considered a tight race between Aspen restaurateur Rob Ittner and former City Councilman Jack Johnson for the District 1 commissioner seat currently held by Patti Clapper, Ittner leads in campaign spending.

His committee reported spending $4,940 between Oct. 8-24, bringing its total spending since Ittner’s campaign began to $14,409. Left on hand was $5,128. Among Ittner’s contributors during the most recent reporting period was the candidate himself, with a $500 outlay, and former Aspen Mayor Helen Klanderud, giving $200 to the cause. He collected 13 contributions during the latest reporting period.

Johnson’s campaign committee reported spending $3,143 between Oct. 8-24, bringing total spending to $11,052, with $3,454 remaining on hand. His recent contributors include $100 from Roger Wilson of Glenwood Springs, the Democratic candidate for House District 61, and Woody Creek singer-songwriter John Oates, who gave $500. Johnson reported 21 contributions in all during the latest reporting period.

The Committee to Defeat Jack, created by local blogger Elizabeth Milias, reported no contributions and $218.94 in previous expenses, associated with setting up the website.

Citizens for Sustainable Health Care, a committee devoted to passage of two ballot questions related to Aspen Valley Hospital, Referendum 5A and 5B, reported $1,800 in spending from Oct. 8-24 and $22,132 in overall spending, with $18,322 remaining on hand.

Citizens for Sensible Change, also formed to campaign on the hospital questions, reported no expenses and $100 on hand from two donors, including its registered agent, Mary M. Carlson.

Stopgap for Aspen Schools, the committee campaigning for the Aspen School District tax question, Referendum 3A, reported spending $3,342 between Oct. 8-24, leaving it with about $132 on hand. Its contributors included three school board members and the Colorado Education Association, which gave $500.

To view the local campaign expenditure reports, and for a plethora of other election-related information, go to (look for the Campaign Finance Reports link).

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