GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - Despite losing her bid to unseat longtime incumbent Republican Garfield County Commissioner John Martin in Tuesday's election, challenger Sonja Linman believes there's something to be said for her strong showing.
"It was a close race, and I want to thank the people in the community who had the courage to step forward and help with my campaign," Linman, a Democrat, said Wednesday after learning she fell less than a thousand votes short in her race against Martin.
Unofficial final election result released Wednesday afternoon had Martin with 12,021 votes, or 52 percent of the ballots cast in the race, to Linman's 11,068 votes, or 48 percent.
"The message is that 11,000 people would like to see more transparency, more information and more representation from our county commissioners," Linman said.
"It also means there is still work to be done," she said. "An election doesn't close the door on a request from the people."
Martin will be sworn in for a fifth, four-year term as the District 2 representative on the Garfield Board of County Commissioners in January.
After the unofficial final results were announced on Wednesday, Martin said that, besides the multitude of issues related to energy and land-use development, he's always reminded each election to listen.
"That's always the one thing that you have to think about and try to do," he said.
While Republicans and Democrats tend to vote the party platform from national elections down to the local races, Martin said unaffiliated voters in particular need to be heard. And that's especially true in Garfield County, he said.
"I think people paid a little more attention to our race, because it was maybe a little more publicized," Martin said in congratulating Linman on a strong campaign. "She did have a lot of vocal support, and she campaigned extremely hard. I have to credit her for that."
As for bringing more transparency to county government, Martin said he believes the opportunity is there for citizens learn about the issues, to speak up, and to participate if they so desire.
"I really don't know how much more transparent we can be," he said.
Linman said she intends to stay involved on county and other local government issues, and to keep an eye on the commissioners.
"One of the things I've learned is the importance of the process of local government," she said. "As we move forward, especially these next two years, we must pay attention to the decisions being made, and how we can best expect to be heard."
There was no change in the outcome of the other county commissioner race for the District 3 seat with the unofficial final election tallies sent out Wednesday.
Incumbent Republican Mike Samson retained his 12-percent margin of victory over Democratic challenger Aleks Briedis in that race to win re-election to a second four-year term.
The unofficial final results gave Samson 12,662 votes, or 56 percent, to Briedis' 10,077 votes, or 44 percent.
Garfield County Question 1A, which had proposed a 10-year, 0.25 percent sales tax to fund an agricultural lands conservation and open space program in the county, failed in Tuesday's election, 12,804 votes against (55 percent) to 10,307 votes in favor (45 percent), according to the unofficial final election results.