Vote count crawls along in Garfield
The fate of the RTA in the lower valley remained in question yesterday, as computer breakdowns and counting delays frustrated efforts to get the final tally in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs.
As of yesterday afternoon, Garfield County election officials could provide no details about the outcome in either city, although they were able to confirm that the combined vote came out in favor of the transportation proposal, with 2,792 in favor and 2,249 against.
The RTA, more formally known as a Rural Transportation Authority, is a plan to create a regional taxing district charged with funding and operating bus service throughout the valley. If, as it now appears likely, the transportation authority is formed, it would supplant RFTA, the existing bus agency, taking over its equipment and operations and expanding the service.
Voters in seven separate jurisdictions faced the RTA question on Tuesday, and it appears most were overwhelmingly in favor.
The RTA garnered the favor of Pitkin County by a 2-to-1 margin, with 66 percent of the 6,829 votes cast. In the Pitkin County portion of Basalt, 194 of 287 voters supported the RTA.
The margin was slightly better than 2-to-1 in the section of Basalt that’s located in Eagle County, with 497 people in favor vs. 242 opposed. In the remainder of the Eagle County precincts in the valley, 1,043 voted in favor of the RTA while 540 voted against it.
The narrower outcome in Garfield County leaves questions about whether the RTA scored a clean sweep. It is possible that the electorate in one community came out overwhelmingly in favor of the proposal while voters in the other opposed it. If it happens that Glenwood voters declined to join the RTA, then a significant portion of the funding would not materialize. But supporters remain optimistic that once the votes are counted, both Carbondale and Glenwood will be part of the RTA.
One set of unofficial numbers that were made available to Glenwood Springs City Councilwoman Mary Steinbrecher and RTA campaign director Steve Smith indicated that the proposal may pass in both places. Steinbrecher and Smith said a breakdown of votes cast on Election Day – not including absentee or early voting – showed the RTA winning in Carbondale with support from almost 65 percent of voters and more narrowly in Glenwood Springs with 53.8 percent in favor.
A spokeswoman from the Garfield County clerk and recorder’s office would not confirm the Election Day polling results. She said defective software was delaying the final count, and that relevant numbers would not be available until tomorrow at the earliest.
Carbondale resident and RTA campaign chair Randy Udall said that RTA supporters weren’t actually expecting to win in all seven jurisdictions – so they’re especially hopeful about the outcome. “I’m delighted with the results so far – I think it’s a good day for the entire valley,” he said.
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