November 2004

Election results from around the area

Montezuma County

  • Republicans achieved a sweep of the county commission, with two Republican candidates replacing the term-limited Kent Lindsay, another Republican, and Kelly Wilson, a Democrat. With 13 of 14 precincts reporting, Cortez business owner Larrie Rule had a 54-46 percent margin over former Cortez Mayor and council member Cheryl Baker, who was only the second woman ever to run for the county commission.
  • In the Mancos district, veterinarian Gerald Koppenhafer took 73 percent of the vote to 26 percent for Kerry O’Brien, an independent candidate who entered the race late.
  • Voters were in a no-tax, no-spending mood, as a proposed 0.55-cent county sales tax for road improvements and maintenance lost 56-44 percent.
  • Also losing was a ballot question that would have created a regional library authority and a 1.75-mill levy to fund the Cortez Public Library. The library planned to use the extra money to expand hours, buy books and other media, and add computers. The question lost 57-43 percent.
  • Two other ballot questions that would have removed term limits for various county officials went down to defeat. A question to let the sheriff serve without term limits lost 57-43 percent, which means that current Sheriff Joey Chavez will be forced to leave in two years. And another question that would have lifted term limits on the clerk, assessor and treasurer also was defeated by a 54-46 percent margin. However, voters did decide to allow the county coroner to serve unlimited terms, 51-49 percent.

Dolores County

  • Democrat Ernie Williams won a seat on the county commission, defeating Republican Ed Rice, 713 votes to 392, a margin of 65 to 35 percent.

La Plata County

  • A ballot question that would have limited growth went down to defeat, 54-46 percent. The Responsible Growth Initiative would have given voters within city limits the right to approve or deny annexations of housing developments with more than 10 units and commercial-building proposals for structures larger than 40,000 square feet. The initiative was opposed by a coalition called Citizens for a Sustainable Durango that included members of the Durango Chamber of Commerce and city council, homebuilders, real-estate agents, and developers. Opponents said the initiative would have hampered future development and caused home prices to skyrocket. Supporters said something needed to be done to rein in rampant growth in the Durango area.
  • In the only contested county-commission race, Democrat Wally White defeated Republican Roger Phelps in District 3, 55 percent to 45 percent.
  • Bayfield residents voted to allow a mill-levy override that would provide for improvements for the area’s school district. Early voting indicated that it would win by 54-46 percent. The override will mean an additional $999,000 for salaries, technological aids and educational programs.
  • In Ignacio, voters rejected a mill-levy increase by a margin of 65 percent to 35. The proposal would have increased the mill levy from 3.37 mills to 6.74 to raise aproximately $16,000 per year for the town’s general fund.

San Miguel County

  • Incumbent Art Goodtimes, the highest elected Green Party official in Colorado, was re-elected to a third term on the San Miguel County Commission. He defeated two opponents: Democrat Brian Ahern and Independent Kay Hartman. Goodtimes snared 1,910 of the votes (50.3 percent) in the commissioner race, with Ahern receiving 1,213 (32 percent) and Hartman 674 (17.7 percent).

Statewide

  • On a night when Democrats lost the hotly contested presidential race, they took consolation in picking up a Senate seat in Colorado. Ken Salazar, a two-time state attorney general, defeated Republican Pete Coors, a beer baron who had held no previous public office, for the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Ben Nighthorse Campbell. It was reportedly the most expensive campaign in Colorado history. With most precincts reporting, Salazar was leading Coors, 50.5 to 47.4 percent, with the other votes going to minor-party candidates.
  • Salazar’s older brother, John, likewise won a narrow victory over Republican Greg Walcher in the 3rd Congressional District race. With 89 percent of precincts reporting, he held a lead of 50.6 percent to 46.5 percent. Walcher, former head of the state Division of Natural Resources and of the Western Slope’s Club 20, suffered from the fact that he had supported last year’s unpopular Referendum A, a $2 billion water proposal. The incumbent, GOP Rep. Scott McInnis, had served for seven terms in the House before announcing that he would not seek another. This is reportedly the first time Colorado voters have elected Hispanics to both the U.S. House and Senate.
  • Amendment 34, which would have essentially reversed a bill the state legislature passed last year limiting liability for homebuilders, was soundly defeated by a margin of 77-23 percent.
  • Amendment 35, which will increase excise tax on cigarettes by 64 cents a pack, passed, 61 percent to 39 percent. The amendment to the Constitution will also double the tax on other tobacco products. The funds are designated to be used for tobacco education and health care.
  • Amendment 36, which would have allowed the state’s 9 electoral votes to be divided proportionately among the presidential candidates, lost by a 66-34 percent margin. The amendment would have been retroactive to this election. Because it failed, Colorado’s 9 votes all went to George W. Bush.
  • Amendment 37, which will require the state’s larger utilities to generate or purchase 10 percent of their electric power by 2015 from renewable resources such as solar, geothermal, and wind power, passed, 53 percent to 47. The amendment had been opposed locally by Empire Electric, but that electric cooperative will not be affected by the measure, which applied only to utilities with more than 40,000 customers.
  • Referendum A, to change the state personnel system, lost 61 percent to 39 percent. Opponents feared it would mean outsourcing of jobs.
  • Referendum B, to revise some old language in the state constitution, passed by a 69-31 percent margin.