Election cycle starting early for Pitkin County, state | AspenTimes.com

Election cycle starting early for Pitkin County, state

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

ASPEN – This year’s election cycle will gear up early in Pitkin County, where three commissioner seats are up for election and the primary, if one is necessary, will take place in June instead of August.

In addition, the Aspen Valley Hospital District will conduct a May election for two seats on the hospital’s board of directors. There is no Aspen City Council election this spring, but voters in the city might see a special election at some point regarding the proposed hydroelectric plant on Castle Creek.

The hospital district will hold an election via mail-in ballot this spring. Election Day is May 8. The seats held by Drs. Mindy Nagle and Barry Mink are up for election. Mink said recently that he had not yet decided whether he will seek a third term. Nagle, who is finishing her first term on the board, could not be reached for comment.

Hospital board members are elected to four-year terms, and there is no limit on how many terms they can serve. Nomination papers, for those interested in running for a seat, will be available from the hospital starting Feb. 17 and must be filed by March 2.

In 2010, when three incumbents were up for election on the hospital board, no challengers stepped forward, and no election ultimately took place.

On the Board of County Commissioners in Pitkin County, the seats held by Michael Owsley (District 3), Jack Hatfield (District 4) and George Newman (District 5) are up for election in November, but the primary, if one is necessary, will take place June 26.

Colorado lawmakers have moved up the primary to the last Tuesday in June (it used to be on the second Tuesday in August) in response to a new federal law that requires counties to get overseas ballots sent out 45 days before an election. The August primary made for a tight time frame in which to finalize ballots for the November general election and get them into the hands of overseas voters, including those serving in the military.

The District 4 seat in Pitkin County is wide open this year, as term limits prevent Hatfield from seeking re-election. Newman is finishing his first term of office this year, and Owsley is completing his second. Commissioners serve four-year terms and are limited to three consecutive terms in office.

Newman said he will wait until the end of this month to announce whether he will seek re-election. Owsley said Friday that he intends to run again.

Those interested in seeking election to the county board must reside within the district of the seat they’re seeking. Candidate petitions will be available starting March 1 and must be submitted between April 9 and 20, according to Dwight Shellman III, elections manager for the county Clerk and Recorder’s Office. Petitions must be signed by at least 100 registered county voters.

There will be no primary for a commissioner post unless there are more than two candidates for a district seat. In Pitkin County, which is governed by its home-rule charter, candidates aren’t required to be affiliated with a political party, and party affiliation has no bearing on which candidates advance to the general election if a primary takes place. Rather, it’s simply the top two vote-getters in the primary who advance to the November ballot, Shellman said.

Election information for Pitkin County can be found at http://www.pitkinvotes.org.

In the city of Aspen, if a petition initiative results in a public vote on the rezoning of property for a hydroelectric plant on Castle Creek, that election is not expected to coincide with the June primary, according to City Clerk Kathryn Koch. However, state law doesn’t allow the power-plant vote to take place within 32 days before or after the primary.

The election does have to occur 60 to 90 days after the petitions have been certified. Koch’s deadline to certify the petitions is Feb. 16.