Sparhawk reelected in Carbondale; Hassig, Laird win other two trustee seats; pool question passes
Trustee (3 seats)
*Erica Sparhawk: 990
*Chris Hassig: 730
*Colin Laird: 684
Luis Yllanes: 569
Zane Kessler: 418
Colin Quinn: 393
Frosty Merriott: 353
Jess Robison: 309
Ben Bohmfalk: 1,148
Pool funding question
The fact that most of the eight candidates for three seats on the Carbondale Board of Trustees were gathered in the same place Tuesday night awaiting the election returns says a lot.
“It’s so Carbondale,” top vote-getter Erica Sparhawk, who was elected to another four-year term on the town board, said from the iconic Pour House restaurant and bar where all of the candidates were invited for an election watch party.
“Even after the forum a bunch of us went out together and had a beverage,” she said. “I just think that’s what we need as a community to move forward; that cohesiveness and willingness to work together to solve problems.”
Sparhawk was joined at the Pour House by first-time candidates Chris Hassig and Colin Laird, who won election to the other two open seats.
“I just love that the Pour House is here, because I was so worried that it wasn’t going to come back,” Hassig said of the popular watering hole, which was closed for more than a year during the pandemic. “These kinds of places, we’re losing them. Part of our job is figuring out how we protect these places that allow community to happen.”
Sparhawk topped the unofficial election tally with 990 votes, followed by Hassig with 730 and Laird with 684. Incumbent Luis Yllanes was also seeking reelection. He came in fourth with 569 votes.
Current Trustee Ben Bohmfalk was running uncontested for the open mayor’s seat, which is being vacated by Dan Richardson. The town board will now appoint a new trustee to fill out the remaining two years on Bohmfalk’s trustee term.
Town voters also overwhelmingly approved a ballot question asking if the town should take on $8 million in debt from the existing recreation sales and use tax fund to build a new municipal aquatics center, to replace the John M. Fleet Pool. The measure passed 1,305 votes to 372.
“It’s just wonderful to feel like people think I can do a good job,” said Laird, who directs the town’s Third Street Center for nonprofit organizations. “It’s great to be part of the community, and part of the new board and to go into the next chapter of great things here in the town.”
A lot of that work will revolve around helping the town build more affordable housing and achieve its clean energy goals, Laird said.
Hassig, a Carbondale native and local artist, also touted the town’s efforts around its climate action plan, and being more creative in the design of new residential and commercial development.
“I think there is a certain appetite for a slightly different approach to development in particular,” said Hassig, who is the son of former two-term Mayor Michael Hassig.
“I probably knocked on half the doors in town, and I learned a lot in that process,” he said. “It was a really great experience for me, to see how wonderful the people are in this town and to see them face to face and talk to them.”
Hassig also said it’s incumbent on the board, now that the town has given a vote of confidence for the pool project, to make it the best it can be.
“I will be pushing to make sure the project meets our environmental goals, and that we spend the taxpayers’ money responsibly,” he said.
Sparhawk, also a Carbondale native, works for the local nonprofit Clean Energy Economy for the Region.
“I care a lot about the community, and so I’m thrilled to be able to keep helping Carbondale move forward in the ways that are important. This election was super helpful in hearing all these other ideas and knowing that other people support many of the things I do, too.
“I really hope the other candidates stay active, because they have so much to contribute to our town,” she said.
Finishing in order among the other candidates were Zane Kessler (418), Colin Quinn (393), former trustee Frosty Merriott (353) and Jess Robison (309).
Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Luis Yllanes’ break from serving as a Carbondale Trustee was short-lived. The Carbondale Board of Trustees on Tuesday appointed Yllanes to serve out the remaining two years of a vacant board seat over two other applicants.