Pitkin County voters head to the polls
June 26, 2012
ASPEN – Pitkin County voters head to the polls Tuesday to narrow the field of candidates in the District 4 county commissioner race and not a whole lot else.The relatively skimpy ballot and low-key commissioner race could explain a lackluster turnout so far.According to Dwight Shellman III, county elections manager, 222 people had cast ballots by the end of early voting on Friday, and by Saturday, 801 ballots had been returned in the mail from the 2,599 voters who requested mail ballots.Tuesday’s primary is a polling-place election, and voters in Pitkin County can cast a ballot between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. (some polling places have changed). Those who requested a mail ballot but didn’t manage to drop it in the mail can drop it off at the County Clerk’s Office in Aspen or any polling place by 7 p.m. Ballots received after the close of the polls won’t be counted regardless of the postmark.In the 2010 primary, 559 ballots were cast during early voting, but the ballot featured a five-way county commissioner race, a three-way primary for county sheriff, two congressional races and a Republican gubernatorial primary.In the 2008 primary, by comparison, only 216 people voted altogether, including early voting, at the polls and via absentee ballots, according to Shellman.Tuesday’s Republican ballot includes a race in state House District 61 and for a University of Colorado regent seat.All county voters, regardless of party affiliation, can cast a ballot in the commissioner race, which is likely to garner the most attention locally. Hopefuls Steve Child, Darryl Grob, John Wilkinson and John B. Young are running for the seat being vacated by incumbent Jack Hatfield, who will be forced out by term limits. Voters may vote for one commissioner candidate; the top two vote-getters will advance to the November general election.Some commissioner candidates are spending Tuesday urging their supporters to head for the polls.Young was holding up signs and waving to passersby in support of his election bid Monday at points around Aspen and will do so again Tuesday, he said. Calling voters is part of his strategy, as well.”If half of the people who said they’d vote for me vote for me, I’ll win in a landslide,” said Young, whose latest contribution and spending report puts him at the head of the pack. The latest report was due Friday. Overall, Young’s campaign detailed spending about $2,550, including postage, campaign signs, newspaper ads and the purchase of voter lists. His campaign raised about $2,656 during the first two reporting periods.While Young makes an election day push, Grob has no plans for 11th hour campaigning. He said his supporters worked the phones over the weekend.”I think at this point in time, there’s not too terribly much that can be done,” Grob said Monday. “I think it’s been interesting. I’m of the opinion that you have four qualified candidates.”I’ve done what I could. We’ll see where it proceeds from here.”Grob’s campaign has collected about $1,570 over two reporting periods; less than $10 in spending was noted in the reports.Wilkinson reported raising $1,325 altogether; his expenditures add up to about $1,300, including postage, postcards and yard signs. The candidate said he’s tried to reach out to voters through the mail, face to face and with phone calls, and expects he’ll be waving a sign periodically Tuesday, though he intends to work his regular job, as well.Based on participation in early voting, Wilkinson said he suspects there’s not a lot of enthusiasm about the commissioner primary. Once the field is narrowed to two, that may change, he said.”I think what people are going to be more interested in is who’s left at the end of the day,” Wilkinson said.Child, who could not be reached for comment Monday, reported raising $2,280 for his campaign since its start, and spending about $595, including postal costs and the printing of mailing materials.Incumbent Commissioners George Newman and Michael Owsley are also up for election in their respective districts, but they are running unopposed and their names don’t appear on the primary ballot. Neither incumbent reported raising or spending any money during the primary campaign cycle.
Polling places will be open today for 10 county precincts, though some precincts are combined at one polling place. Voters whose addresses have changed, putting them in a new precinct, have been notified of the precinct change by mail. Three former Aspen polling places – St. Mary Church, Crossroads Church and the Common House – are no longer in use; St. Mary and Crossroads voters now go to the Red Brick, while Common House voters should go to Rio Grande Place.The county’s polling places are:• Precinct 1 – Rio Grande Meeting Room, 455 Rio Grande Place, Aspen• Precinct 2 – Red Brick Center for Arts, 110 E. Hallam St., Aspen• Precinct 3 – Rio Grande Meeting Room, 455 Rio Grande Place, Aspen• Precinct 4 – Red Brick Center for Arts, 110 E. Hallam St., Aspen• Precinct 5 – Schultz Health & Human Services building, 405 Castle Creek Road, Aspen• Precinct 6 – Snowmass Village Town Hall, 130 Kearns Road, Snowmass Village• Precinct 7 – Colorado Mountain College, 255 Sage Way, ABC, Aspen• Precinct 8 – Old Snowmass Fire Station, 1909 Snowmass Creek Road, Snowmass• Precinct 9 – St. Peter’s of the Valley, 200 Elk Run Drive, Basalt• Precinct 10 – Church at Redstone, 213 Redstone Blvd., RedstoneGo to http://www.pitkinvotes.org for more information about Tuesday’s election.