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Strong voter turnout is expected Tuesday

Janet UrquhartAspen Times Staff Writer

If early voting is any indication, Tuesday’s election in Aspen will see a strong turnout at the polls.The city clerk’s office tallied 593 ballots cast through early and absentee voting at the end of the day Friday, compared to 495 votes cast before election day in May 2001. That’s a record, at least during Clerk Kathryn Koch’s lengthy tenure.”I think you can always tie the turnout to absentee voting,” she said.There are 4,880 registered voters in the city of Aspen and 3,147 “active” voters – individuals who have voted in a recent election.Voters in Aspen’s five precincts will head to one of four polling places tomorrow. The polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.The mayor’s seat and two City Council posts are up for grabs.Precincts and polling places are as follows:-Precinct 1, the former Aspen Youth Center, 455 Rio Grande Place. The precinct covers the east end of the city, north of Highway 82 and east of the Roaring Fork River.-Precinct 2, St. Mary’s Church at the corner of Hunter and Main streets. The precinct covers the neighborhood south of Main Street, between Castle Creek and the river.-Precinct 3, the Common Ground meeting room, located between Common Ground and the Lone Pine condominiums. The precinct encompasses various worker housing complexes, including Hunter Creek, Centennial, Williams Ranch, Lone Pine and Common Ground.-Precincts 4 and 5, First Baptist Church, 726 W. Francis St. The two precincts will share the West End polling place. Precinct 4 includes the neighborhoods north of Main Street, extending from Mill Street to Truscott Place and including the Cemetery Lane neighborhood. Precinct 5 covers neighborhoods located south of Highway 82 on the downvalley end of Aspen. It encompasses areas of the city in the Castle Creek and Maroon Creek valleys, including Castle Ridge and Aspen Highlands Village, as well as the Maroon Creek Club.Tomorrow’s ballot features a hotly contested mayoral race between incumbent Helen Klanderud and challengers Terry Paulson, a councilman, and Andrew Kole.There are seven candidates for the two council seats up for election: incumbents Tony Hershey and Tom McCabe, as well as challengers Pepper Gomes, Lisa Markalunas, Rachel Richards, Torre and Cliff Weiss.Also on the council ballot are Tom Peirce and Vitashka Kirshen, who withdrew from the race too late to have their names removed.Several voters who cast early ballots came into the city clerk’s office hoping to vote anew when their favored candidates pulled out of the race, but that is not permitted. Once a ballot is in the box, that’s it.Tomorrow’s balloting may or may not produce the winners. In the mayoral race, a candidate must receive 50 percent of the votes cast plus one to prevail. If no one garners enough votes, the top two vote-getters will face off in a June 3 runoff election.In the council race, a candidate must collect 45 percent of the votes cast, plus one, to take a seat. Since two seats are up for election, the total number of votes cast in the council race will be divided by two. A candidate must receive 45 percent (plus one) of the halved tally of votes cast to win tomorrow.If no candidate garners enough votes tomorrow, the top four vote-getters will face each other in the runoff. If one candidate wins a seat tomorrow, the candidates who finish second and third will have a runoff on June 3.In 2001, council candidates Tim Semrau and Terry Paulson collected enough votes to avoid a runoff. The mayoral race featured a field of four contenders, but no outright winner emerged in the May election. Klanderud and Richards advanced to the runoff battle in which Klanderud edged out Richards.[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com]


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