by Bill Knowles
WALSENBURG- Voter response to mail balloting for this year’s polling was close to 60 percent, a very good response according to County Clerk Judy Benine. “We received a 57 percent return on the ballots,” Benine said. “This was as good as balloting two years ago.” 2,307 total votes were cast in the county.
A hard fought mayoral campaign resulted in challenger Larry Patrick taking the seat from incumbent Bruce Quintana. Patrick garnered 520 votes to Quintana’s 362, and the write-in slot received 54 votes, most of which went to Susan Blake. Some folks chose to write in their own candidates, including Gumby, Mickey Mouse and Captain Crunch.
Patrick thanked the community for their support. “We will work hard at bringing the city council together. There a lot of issues we have to pay attention to in order to move the city forward and we look forward to the many challenges we still have to face,” Patrick said.
Mayor Bruce Quintana, when asked for a comment said he felt he did his best for the city. “However some felt that wasn’t enough,” Quintana said. “We fixed the finances and now have the proper personnel in place.”
A ballot question which would have extended the term limits for county commissioners failed by a wide margin of 1,781 votes against to 477. It would have extended by one term the time elected officials might serve as county commissioners. This was the third time the issue has come before the voters of Huerfano County, and all three times the question of extending the term limit or abolishing it has lost.
Proposition 103 was a statewide ballot measure that would have increased property taxes and sales taxes across the state, raising around $2.5 billion for public education and higher education. It was defeated in Huerfano County as well as across the state. 1,457 Huerfano voters rejected the proposed tax increase while 782 voted for the increase. Across the state, nearly 60 percent of the voters rejected the sought after increase with 517,516 no votes and 288,901 yes votes as of 10 pm Tuesday evening. In some counties across the state those the no vote was closer to 70 percent.
Walsenburg residents voted to reject the city’s request for a mill levy increase 615 to 312. The city will now have to work the 2012 budget using numbers that will reflect the defeat of the ballot measure.
Another ballot measure seeking to increase the debt limit for the Northlands District was passed. Only business and property owners in the district could vote on the measure and they passed it, 16 to 3. The funds raised by the increase will be used to help pay for the required sewer line needed in the district. With the increase in debt limit, grant funding and low interest loans for the project should become available through the USDA.
Races for the Walsenburg City Council showed the voters for the most part desired to keep the incumbents and defeat the challengers.
In the Ward One race, incumbent Silvana Lind received 164 votes and she was the only person running for the seat. Ward Two had two seats open with Rick Jennings and Gary Sporcich, both currently seated by appointment, winning the contest. Jennings pulled in 166 votes and Sporcich garnered 107. Paul Rivera picked up 66 votes. The two top candidates will be seated.
In Ward Three, former city council member James Baca challenged incumbent Dave Mockmore. Baca will take over the seat, winning the count 103 votes over Mockmore’s 66.
In Ward Four, incumbent Nick Vigil will retain his seat. He pulled in 210 votes. Vigil ran unchallenged. Wanda Britt, the city clerk by appointment, retains her position. She received 733 votes and ran unchallenged.
Four RE-1 school board districts had open seats. Two districts, A and C had one candidate each in the running. Jaye Sudar received 1,039 votes and will fill the District A seat and Eva Vigil will fill the District C seat with 1,071 votes. District B will remain vacant until the board can appoint someone to fill it. District E was a contest between David Tesitor and Denise Abila-Vigil. Tesitor won the seat with 785 votes to Abila-Vigil’s 728. Julia Marchant was unopposed in District G, and received 1,160 votes.
According to the county clerk Judy Benine, all the vote counts are tentative until certified by the Secretary of State’s office in Denver sometime next week.