Rifle elects four to council; favors pool and rec pot
September 12, 2017
Rifle voters Tuesday elected two new members to the City Council along with both incumbents who were seeking new terms. They also approved financing of a new swimming pool complex and slightly favored an advisory question on whether the town should allow sales of recreational marijuana.
Elected to the council were newcomers Joe Carpenter and Sean Strode, and incumbents Barbara Clifton and Theresa Hamilton. All will sit on council for the next four years. Brent Buss and Helen Artist-Rogers were runners-up.
Carpenter, Clifton, Hamilton and Strode will join Ed Green, Joe Elliot and Annick Pruett on City Council. Since former Mayor Randy Winkler was term-limited, the board will need to elect a new mayor in a future meeting.
In addition to electing four new members to council, residents weighed in on recreational marijuana.
Asked in an advisory question whether the city should allow recreational marijuana stores, 552 voters said yes while 511 said no.
Though the Rifle council debated at length whether to include the issue on this year's ballot at a meeting in June, it ultimately decided that an advisory question was the best route.
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While it is just an advisory question, meaning the results are nonbinding, City Attorney Jim Neu said in June that the future council may have a difficult time beating back the industry if the vote went decisively in favor.
It remains to be seen how such a close vote will affect future council's decision-making regarding the issue.
Another hot topic on this year's ballot was whether the town would pay for the construction of a new public swimming pool complex. The project was well advertised throughout Rifle and will not require new taxes.
Voters easily approved the project, 753-317.
The city plans to borrow money through the Parks and Recreation Fund. It will use a lease-purchase agreement with the Parks and Maintenance Facility at Deerfield Park from 2008. The facility's debt will be retired in 2018, and the city hopes to then use these funds to repay the new loan for the pool project. Any debt incurred following voter approval will be paid out of existing sales and use tax revenues.
At the candidate forum in August, each of the candidates indicated that they support the proposed project.