Andy Stone: What does it mean? I have no idea, but that won’t stop me
So, the election’s over. What does it mean? Hell if I know.
Let’s take a look anyway.
Helen Klanderud was re-elected mayor by a wide margin. She said she’s going to take that as a referendum on her performance during her first term.
Actually, it’s more of a referendum on her opponents.
I think, first, the voters realized that Terry Paulson has his heart in the right place – but the connections to his head are a bit looser than they might want.
Terry comes across as good-hearted, but a bit flaky. And then, from time to time, a bit of a mean streak peeks through the cloud cover.
That flaky-mean emerged when he attacked Helen for “authorizing” the transfer of the highway right of way across the Marolt open space to the state. Terry knew that Helen had voted against that transfer, just the way he did. He also knew that, as mayor, she had no choice but to sign the papers on that transfer, once the council majority had voted in favor of it.
And, second, the voters made it clear that Andrew Kole should be labeled “For Amusement Only.”
If Terry’s mean streak was a problem, Andrew’s suggestion that we should ask our millionaire second-home owners for advice on running the city was a delightful absurdity.
Thanks for the good laugh, Andrew.
Meanwhile, in the council race, Rachel Richards waltzed in way ahead of the competition.
In fact, her vote total is another indication that Helen’s triumph in the mayoral race wasn’t nearly as strong a vote of confidence as she’d like.
In the seven-way council race, Rachel got just 300 votes less than Helen picked up in the mayor’s contest. I’m guessing that an awful lot of the 527 people who voted for Terry Paulson for mayor would prefer Rachel to Helen.
That would mean, at the very least, that Rachel would have given Helen a heck of a run for her money if they had gone head-to-head for mayor once again.
Still, the real action is yet to come – the runoff between Torre and Tony Hershey for the last council seat.
Torre and Tony finished just a few votes apart, in second and third place, some 300 votes behind Rachel and about 100 votes ahead of the fourth- and fifth-place finishers, Cliff Weiss and Tom McCabe.
So how do we handicap the runoff election on June 3?
Yet again, hell if I know.
Predicting the whims of Aspen voters is never easy. The results of the runoff will be influenced by other kinds of runoff – how many local voters have run off on vacations by June; whether the spring runoff produces the kind of whitewater that will lure the young and reckless out of Aspen and onto the river that week; whether either of the candidates will run off at the mouth and alienate voters before the June 3 balloting.
Still, fool’s game though it may be, I can’t resist trying to figure it out.
I’ve been staring at the vote totals for the past hour and, though I’m amazed, I have to say I think Torre’s got the edge.
Here’s how I figure it:
First off, everyone got two votes. That means I’m going to divide everyone’s vote totals from Tuesday by two (with some exceptions).
Now, I can’t believe that anyone who voted for Rachel Richards gave his or her other vote to Tony Hershey. The same goes for the people who voted for Lisa Markalunas and Tom Peirce.
Those three candidates – Rachel, Lisa and Tom Peirce – got a total of 1,261 votes. Divide that in two and you get 630 voters who flat won’t vote for Tony Hershey.
Over on the other side, I’m going to guess that most of Tom McCabe’s 445 votes came from people who gave their second vote to Hershey. So, to be generous, I’ll give Tony all of McCabe’s 223 voters.
Then there are Pepper Gomes’s voters. They’re hard to call. Maybe they just appreciated Pepper’s loose-cannon qualities – but that could lead them to vote for the cranky Tony or the youthfully unknown Torre.
Or Pepper’s people could be favoring his old-timer qualities, which might translate to backing for the conservative Tony. On the other hand, I really like Pepper myself – and I wouldn’t vote for Tony on a bet.
What the heck, it’s only 203 votes – 101 voters – let’s give 66 to Tony and 35 to Torre.
Now, how about the votes for the two candidates themselves?
I’m going to actually guess that as many as a third of Torre’s 566 backers gave their other vote to Tony. Somehow I find that easy to imagine. And I’ll guess that two-thirds of that one-third will vote for Tony in the runoff.
The math’s tricky (hey, I’m just making this up anyway), but I figure that comes to 222 Torre voters for Torre and 61 Torre voters who’ll vote for Tony.
Then there are the 542 votes that Tony got.
We know there was an effort to get people to vote for Tony and not cast a second vote. In fact, if you do the math, it seems there were 208 voters who only voted for one council candidate. (1,856 people voted for mayor. That should have meant 3,712 council votes, but there were only 3504.)
Let’s assume that all 208 of those people voted for Tony. Then we divide his remaining 334 votes by two and give him those. That means 375 votes total.
OK, I know we’re not done, but let’s add it all up.
To this point, I get 887 votes for Torre and 725 for Tony. That puts Torre ahead, but not by much (especially given the questionable nature of my faux-math approach).
Now we get to the last group, the people who voted for Cliff Weiss. That’s 480 votes, 240 voters.
Cliff got into local politics on the basis of his fierce campaign in favor of the S-Curve entrance to town and against the Straight Shot.
Tony Hershey was not only in favor of the Straight Shot, he went out of his way to throw every possible obstacle in the path of the S-Curve supporters.
So I have to believe that the vast majority of Cliff’s voters will vote for Torre, who supported the S-Curves.
And that would give Torre a seat on the City Council.
Unless he runs off to the South Pacific and never comes back.
[Andy Stone is former editor of The Aspen Times. His e-mail address is email@example.com.]
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Sean Beckwith is taking advantage of his column space this week to inform the public of the Best in Jest.