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Glenwood Council selects Jonathan Godes as city’s 53rd mayor

A newly seated Glenwood Springs City Council elected Councilman Jonathan Godes Thursday night to serve as the city’s 53rd mayor.

Outgoing mayor Michael Gamba could not seek re-election because of term limits, after eight years as the city’s Ward 4 council representative.

In accordance with the city’s charter, the people do not elect the mayor of Glenwood Springs, but rather sitting councilors every two years.

After being sworn in, three newly elected council members — at large Councilman Tony Hershey, Ward 3 Councilman Charlie Willman and Ward 4 Councilwoman Paula Stepp — jumped right into the nominating process.

Hershey nominated Ward 2 Councilman Rick Voorhees, Stepp proposed at-large Councilwoman Shelley Kaup, and Willman gave a nod to Godes.

All three accepted their nomination, and the first of three votes was called.

“In this first round we have three votes for Jonathan, two for Shelley and two for Rick,” City Attorney Karl Hanlon read aloud.

With Godes then in the runoff, Council did another round of voting between Kaup and Voorhees to see which of those two would face Godes. Kaup won 4-2.

“I remember a student council election that went this way. I lost,” Hershey quipped.

Some have questioned why the city’s seven-member council elects the mayor as opposed to the Glenwood’s roughly 5,200 registered voters.

“That leaves us with the top two candidates being Shelley and Jonathan. So your next ballot should produce a mayor,” Hanlon stated before the final vote.

As City Clerk Catherine Fletcher collected each councilor’s final vote, all eyes were on Hanlon and City Manager Debra Figueroa as the two counted the white, paper ballots.

“There ought to be jeopardy music playing,” Councilman Steve Davis joked during the final counting process.

Then, at 7:16 p.m., Hanlon announced following a 4-3 vote that Godes was elected the 53rd mayor of Glenwood Springs, and that Shelley Kaup would serve as the city’s mayor pro tem.

Todd Leahy, the city’s previous mayor pro tem also could not seek re-election because of term limits. Ahead of Godes’ being named mayor and Kaup mayor pro tem, their predecessors had a few, final remarks.

“Just make the right decisions for Glenwood. Leave all of your national stuff at home. Leave all of this stuff you see on the TV at home. It doesn’t belong here,” Leahy said.

Added Gamba, “In closing, I would just like to say I am honored and humbled to be the mayor of our city for the last four years, and I wish the staff and the incoming council the best … thank you.”

mabennett@postindependent.com

Who will be Glenwood’s next mayor? Councilors ready to decide Thursday evening

Following the swearing in of Glenwood Springs’ newly elected City Council members Thursday night, councilors themselves must then elect the city’s 53rd mayor.

Current Glenwood Springs Mayor Michael Gamba, who has served in that capacity since April of 2015, is stepping down due to term limits after eight years total on council.

That leaves the predominately ceremonial position of mayor up for grabs in Glenwood’s process of having the mayor’s seat appointed by the council, rather than elected by voters.

“The roles of the mayor are to run a meeting, work with staff to set an agenda, advocate for the community and to work with council and staff to drive a culture of effectiveness and efficiency,” Councilor Jonathan Godes said.

Councilors will elect the next mayor similar to how they approve a resolution or ordinance. A member of the council would nominate one of his or her fellow councilors and then another councilor would need to second that nomination in order for a vote to take place.

If the nominee receives at least four votes from the seven-member council, then Glenwood has its 53rd mayor.

However, in a city with over 10,000 people, not all councilors readily support electing of a mayor with four votes.

“I think the people ought to be electing the mayor,” Councilor Rick Voorhees said. “I think that would increase voter turnout, too, which is a big issue.”

Voorhees wants to hear other councilors’ thoughts at the Thursday morning pre-meeting on a “ranked-choice voting,” a method that Council could possibly utilize to elect the next mayor, he said.

According to Voorhees, the ranked-choice voting method would call for all seven councilors to select their first and second choice for mayor. A councilor’s first choice for mayor would amount to two votes, whereas their second pick would equal one vote.

“Then you put that altogether and the top two people would be the mayor and mayor pro tem,” Voorhees said of the ranked-choice voting idea.

In addition to electing Glenwood’s next mayor, councilors must also elect a mayor pro tem. The mayor pro tem assumes the mayor’s responsibilities in the event of his or her absence. Like Gamba, current Ward 3 Councilor and Mayor Pro Tem Todd Leahy was not able to seek re-election because of term limits.

“The method or number of votes will depend on the number of candidates for mayor,” Glenwood Springs City Attorney Karl Hanlon stated. “The only guidance the charter provides is that the mayor must be elected by a majority of Council. How the Council gets to that point is up to them.”

No sitting or incoming councilor has gone on the record saying that they were pursuing the mayoral position.

At large councilman-elect Tony Hershey said that he was not interested in the mayoral position. But when he votes for one of his fellow councilors to fill the role, he said his decision would center on someone who could run an orderly and efficient Council meeting.

“I just would like to get the lay of the land and understand the system better on how to be a good councilor,” Hershey said. “For me, I don’t think it is appropriate if you were just elected to be the mayor right out of the box.”

Ward 4 councilwoman-elect Paula Stepp said that she, too, was not interested in pursuing the mayoral position after just being elected.

“Five people, from what I understand, are very interested in this and that just shows enthusiasm for a direction they can take council,” Stepp said. “I hope that the things that I ran on will be a priority for that person — affordable housing, economic development and, as a result of what this election was, I really do think streets should be a forefront.”

In addition to electing three new City Council members, voters rejected a proposed 3/4-cent sales tax to pay for a $56 million street rebuilding and repair program.

Incoming councilors include Hershey, Stepp and Ward 3 councilman-elect Charlie Willman. The three will join re-elected Councilor Steve Davis as well as Godes, Voorhees and Councilor Shelley Kaup, who were not up for re-election.

Kaup said that she wanted the next mayor to have a strong vision for the city, with an emphasis on quality of life for its residents.

“Also, an experienced leader in the community with knowledge of city operations and issues,” Kaup said of her ideal mayoral candidate. “I would like to see a strong dedication to openness and transparency.”

mabennett@postindependent.com

Glenwood street tax committee co-chair says campaign got too hot to retain small issues designation

A move to become a regular election issues committee and accept several large donations from construction companies in the middle of the Glenwood Springs street tax campaign was a “defensive” one, says the co-chairman of the Fix Our Streets Now committee.

“We were hoping to do it more grassroots, and keep it a small-issue campaign,” said Jonathan Godes, a Glenwood City Councilman who stepped up to co-chair the committee backing the 3/4-cent sales tax proposal.

The measure put forward by City Council at the recommendation of its financial and transportation advisory boards was meant to fund a massive $56 million city street reconstruction and repair program over the next 10 years.

The tax question and a related $16 million bonding question both failed as final balloting came in on Tuesday, by a 60 to 40 percent margin.

“When we found out we had organized opposition, our position changed and we could no longer continue to do it that way,” Godes said of the attempts to sell city voters on the idea on less than $5,000 — the financial threshold between a small-scale issue committee and a large one.

Godes said the breaking point came when the opposition Committee for Responsible Taxation sent out a mailer in early March that the Fix Our Streets committee felt it needed to respond to.

That’s when Mark Gould of Gould Construction put forth a $2,860 campaign contribution, and asked several other construction companies to help out, as well, Godes explained.

“At that point, we determined we could no longer be a small issues committee,” he said.

The committee had initially registered with the City Clerk’s Office as a Small-Scale Issue Committee (SSIC), under Colorado campaign finance laws, rather than a full Issue Committee.

Such committees are not allowed to exceed $5,000 in contributions, and also have different disclosure requirements.

After the threshold was surpassed on March 13, however, the committee had 15 days to notify City Clerk Catherine Fletcher of its intent to convert to a full issues committee, which it did on March 28. It then had five days to file its financial disclosure report, which happened to fall on city Election Day.

“It wasn’t like we designed everything around April 2,” Godes said of the way the timing worked out.

Originally, City Council had hoped to have the backing of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association’s ad hoc Community on the Move committee, which has gotten behind numerous other city tax proposals in the past.

When it decided in early February not to back the proposal, Godes said he and other members of City Council and the Financial Advisory Board decided to form their own committee to campaign for the tax.

According to financial disclosure reports filed with the City Clerk by the pro and con committees, Fix Our Streets ended up with contributions totaling $18,260, compared to $3,299 for the Committee for Responsible Taxation, led by former city councilman Ted Edmonds.

jstroud@postindependent.com

Torre wins Aspen mayoral election in runoff

Torre will be the new mayor of Aspen after winning the runoff election Tuesday night against his opponent, Ann Mullins, by 343 votes.

Torre received 1,527 and Mullins garnered 1,184. A total of 2,711 votes were counted.

“I’m very happy with the support of my community,” Torre said. “I’m excited to get to work.”

The two forced a runoff after they failed to get more than 50 percent of the vote in the March 5 election. During that election, Mullins trailed Torre by 341 votes, with her getting 940 and him with 1,281.

Mullins currently is in the middle of her second term as a council member and will continue in that role. If she had been elected mayor, someone would have had to fill her vacancy either by appointment or another election.

With just around 6,000 registered voters in Aspen, the turnout for the April 2 election was 45 percent of the electorate.

Recent history shows that voter turnout decreases between 20 percent and 25 percent in Aspen’s runoff elections.

But in this April runoff election, it decreased roughly only 9 percent.

The March 5 election saw a record turnout with 3,243 people coming to the polls to elect two Aspen City Council members and a mayor and decide on the controversial Lift One development proposal at the base of Aspen Mountain.

Skippy Mesirow and Rachel Richards won seats on City Council, and Lift One passed by a narrow margin.

This was Torre’s sixth run at mayor in 18 years, and this time he was successful.

Torre also has served on City Council twice, with a total of eight years under his belt as an elected official in Aspen.

In the March 5 election, mayoral candidate Adam Frisch came in third with 838 and fourth place contender Cale Mitchell brought in 83 votes.

It’s unclear how many of those votes went to either runoff candidate, but Frisch threw his support toward Mullins in this last contest.

Throughout the campaigns for both elections, Torre raised just over $11,000 and Mullins inched over the $20,000 mark.

Glenwood Springs voters bulldoze street tax proposal at the ballot box

Glenwood Springs voters soundly rejected two ballot measures Tuesday that would have implemented a sales tax and bonding capacity to fix the city’s streets, more than 70 percent of which are in poor or failing condition.

Ballot Issue A, calling for a 3/4-cent sales tax increase, and Ballot Issue B, a $16 million bond authority proposal, both failed with 60 percent of the voters saying no, according to unofficial results of the city-wide election.

For the sales tax question, 2,195 votes were cast, and for the bonding issue, 1,189 votes were cast, according to the preliminary results. The city will release the official tally later in April.

The 3/4-cent increase in the city’s sales tax would have funded at least $56 million in road repairs and rebuilding over the next decade, according to City Council and proponents of the tax.

Ward 5 City Councilor Jonathan Godes, who also co-chaired the Fix Our Streets Now campaign committee that advocated for the tax, sees the ballot issue failure as a clear sign of the community’s priorities.

“Your checkbook is where your priorities are. The community has told us they don’t want a sales tax to fund infrastructure and road construction,” Godes said in an interview late Tuesday.

The sales tax was a controversial issue, with many city staff and a host of infrastructure experts advising that the roads needed a massive influx of cash to be repaired in the near future.

Opponents of the ballot measures argued that the ¾-cent sales tax increase, which would have brought the city’s total sales tax rate to 9.35 percent, would drive business away from Glenwood Springs, hurting both retailers serving the region for convenience shopping and the tourism industry.

The sales tax “gets a little more intense when you get up around 11 percent for a new refrigerator, stove, and some of those larger items,” former city councilman Ted Edmonds, who organized the Committee for Responsible Taxation to oppose the proposed sales tax, said during an Issues and Answers Forum in March.

The new tax, had it been approved, would have meant a sales tax of 10.85 percent at Glenwood Meadows businesses, where a separate public improvements fee, or PIF, is also assessed at places like Target, Lowe’s, Ulta, Vitamin Cottage, PetCo and the new Marshall’s store.

“If you really believe that having our sales tax be higher than any of our neighbors is not going to impact the business community in this town … I am going to have to disagree,” Edmonds said during the forum.

Edmonds did not return phone calls Tuesday evening requesting comment.

Godes said the street tax was the best solution put forward by the city staff, the Financial Advisory Board, the Transportation Commission and City Council to repair the road infrastructure.

A third party study found that 70 percent of the city’s streets are in poor or failing condition and need complete rebuilding, not just resurfacing, according to the election notice for the ballot issues.

As for the path to repair infrastructure going forward, “I think that’s up to the community,” he said.

“I guess, going forward, it’s not up to the city advisory board, the council, or the city to come up with something. It’s up to the community to come up with something,” he said.

Godes mentioned the alternative of a property tax increase measure in a few years, if there isn’t another solution found to fix the damaged roads.

tphippen@postindependent.com

Editor’s note: This article has been updated from a previous version. Councilor Jonathan Godes represents Ward 5, and mentioned proposing a property tax in two years, not four.

Road construction contractors helped bankroll failed Glenwood Springs street tax campaign

Several road construction contractors that could have potentially gained work had Glenwood Springs’ $56 million street tax proposal succeeded at the ballot box Tuesday were major contributors to the campaign to convince voters to pass the tax.

Campaign finance reports filed late Tuesday by the election issues committee backing the 3/4-cent sales tax question — Fix Our Streets Now — disclosed $18,260 in total contributions to the campaign.

Among them was a $2,860 contribution from Glenwood Springs-based Gould Construction, a major city contractor on various infrastructure projects over the years. Two other contributions of $2,500 each came from Denver-area construction and paving companies.

Locally, Grand River Construction, Frontier Paving, Heyl Construction, Johnson Construction, Western Slope Materials and Concrete and several engineering firms also contributed amounts ranging from $500 to $950 to the tax campaign, according to the finance disclosure report delivered on Election Day.

The Committee to Fix Our Streets Now initially registered as a Small-Scale Issue Committee (SSIC) under Colorado campaign finance laws, rather than a full Issue Committee. That meant it was not required to disclose campaign contributions and spending ahead of the election, unless contributions exceeded $5,000 total.

However, the committee notified Glenwood Springs City Clerk Catherine Fletcher last Thursday, March 28, that it would need to convert to the larger campaign committee classification, because it had surpassed that amount.

According to the notice of change filed with the Clerk’s Office, the committee exceeded $5,000 on March 13.

An itemized list of contributions to the committee shows the tally reached $4,990 on March 6 when Gould Construction made the largest single contribution to the campaign. A $950 contribution from Grand River Construction on March 13 pushed the committee over the limit to continue under SSIC classification.

Under state law, though, the committee officials — led by City Councilman Jonathan Godes and former Councilor Kathryn Trauger — had 15 calendar days to file a notice of change in committee type, which was March 28.

From there, according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s website, the committee has five days to file an initial disclosure report detailing contribution and expenditure activity, and convert its registration to a regular Issue Committee.

That put the deadline at 5 p.m. Tuesday, as ballots in the city election were still being cast.

On the expenditure side, the committee reported it had spent $15,245.92 of the funds received, leaving $3,014.08 on hand.

A large portion of that, $6,453.48, went to advertising in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent and online at postindependent.com. Another $5,930.88 went toward mailers, and the remainder went for signs, printing, digital ads and social media costs.

Hershey and Willman win council seats; street tax soundly rejected

Glenwood Springs voters, in final balloting Tuesday, rejected a 3/4-cent sales tax proposal to fix city streets and elected one of the tax opponents and a supporter to City Council in Tony Hershey and Charlie Willman.

Ballot Issue A, asking for a new sales tax to pay for $56 million in street rebuilding and repairs, failed by a 60 percent to 40 percent margin, according to final unofficial results in the city election announced just before 10 p.m. Tuesday.

The related Ballot Issue B, seeking bonding authority for up to $16 million, also failed by a similar margin.

Winning election to the at-large City Council seat was Tony Hershey, a deputy district attorney in the 9th Judicial District, and former Aspen City Council member in the early 2000s.

Hersehy defeated incumbent Jim Ingraham, who was appointed to the seat last year, with 48 percent of the vote to Ingraham’s 29 percent. The third candidate in that race, Erika Gibson, had 23 percent of the vote.

In the Ward 3 race, local attorney Charlie Willman easily won election with 51 percent of the ward vote, to 38 percent for Jennifer Vanian and 11 percent for Ksana Oglesby. Willman will replace current Councilor Todd Leahy, who was term-limited after eight years on City Council.

Two seats on City Council were uncontested in the election. Councilor Steve Davis won reelection to the Ward 1 seat, and former Garfield County commissioner candidate Paula Stepp won election to the Ward 4 seat being vacated by current Mayor Michael Gamba, who also was term-limited.

Fix Streets committee only now reporting contributions, as final pre-election campaign finance reports come due

The election issue committee in support of Glenwood Springs’ proposed new sales tax to fix the city’s streets that’s being decided by voters in final balloting Tuesday has not yet disclosed who has given what in the way of monetary contributions to the campaign.

But it is now required to do so by the end of the day Tuesday, the final day for voting in the city election that will determine the fate of the proposed 3/4-cent sales tax and a related bonding question, as well two contested City Council seats.

That’s because the Committee to Fix Our Streets Now initially registered as a Small-Scale Issue Committee under Colorado campaign finance laws, rather than a full Issue Committee.

However, the committee notified City Clerk Catherine Fletcher on March 28 that it would need to convert to the larger campaign committee classification, because it had received contributions in excess of $5,000.

According to the notice of change in committee type, the committee exceeded $5,000 on March 13.

Fletcher said that the committee — co-chaired by Jonathan Godes, a member of Glenwood Springs City Council, and former city councilor and current city Financial Advisory Board member Kathryn Trauger — had filed a notice of change in committee type within the allotted 15 calendar days of surpassing the contribution limit for a small committee.

According to the Colorado Secretary of State’s website, “within 5 days of filing this notice a SSIC [Small-Scale Issue Committee] must file an initial disclosure report detailing contribution and expenditure activity from $0 to $5,000, and convert its registration to a regular Issue Committee.”

That filing would be due Tuesday, Election Day, under the rule.

Meanwhile, the Committee For Responsible Taxation, which opposes the street sales tax question, reported by the March 29 filing deadline that it began the second reporting period with $622.94 on hand.

Between March 13 and March 29, the opposition committee, which did file initially as an Issue Committee, received $2,676.47, with its lone contribution coming from the committee chairman himself, former city councilman Ted Edmonds, in that same amount.

Candidates running for four seats on Glenwood Springs City Council also had until 5 p.m. last Friday to disclose a second summary of their campaign contributions and expenditures to the City Clerk’s office.

at large CANDIDATES

Current at-large Councilman Jim Ingraham, seeking formal election after being appointed to the seat in 2018, began the second reporting period with $2,477 on hand.

Between March 12 and March 29, Ingraham received an additional $500 in monetary contributions. Ingraham’s two largest contributors included Steven Carver and Christian Henny, who contributed $250 and $150, respectively.

Ingraham did not receive any in-kind contributions of non-monetary gifts or loans with a fair market value of $20 or more.

Ingraham ended the second reporting period with $281.73 left on hand after spending $2,344.48 at Gran Farnum Printing on “printing of campaign materials” and $350.81 with Suzanne Stewart for “meet-and-greet food and supplies.”

Council candidate Erika Gibson began the second reporting period with the second largest amount of money on hand in the at-large field, amounting to $73.94.

Between Feb. 21 and March 29, Gibson received an additional $750 in monetary contributions. Gibson’s largest contributors included Robert and Stacey Gavrell, who contributed a total of $250, as well as Valorie and Michael Erion, who put forth $200 altogether.

Gibson did not receive any in-kind donations, nor did she report any campaign expenditures, leaving the at large candidate with $823.94 left on hand.

At-large candidate Tony Hershey began the second reporting period with $46.32 on hand. Between March 7 and March 29, Hershey took in $425 with his largest monetary contributors being Steven Nilsson and Lisa Lowsky, who each contributed $100.

Additionally, Hershey received an in kind donation from Masala & Curry for an election party, which had a fair market value of $244.35.

Hershey ended the second reporting period with $233.34 left on hand after spending $220 with the United States Postal Service on “postage stamps” as well as $17.98 at City Market on “Hershey Chocolate Bars.”

Ward 3 candidates

Ward 3 candidate Charlie Willman began the second reporting period with $539.22 on hand. Between March 10 and March 29 Willman received an additional $1,795.85. Two of Willman’s largest monetary contributors included Jodie Collins and Steve Beckley, who contributed $500 and $250, respectively.

Willman did not receive any in-kind contributions.

Willman ended the second reporting period with $4.52 after spending $2,330.55.

Willman’s expenditures included $1,585.50 to Colorado Mountain News Media for “newspaper ads,” $733.06 to Gran Farnum Printing for “mailing to registered voters,” and $11.99 to Lewis Marketing for “website hosting.”

Ward 3 candidate Jennifer Vanian began the second reporting period with no money on hand, but received $450 between March 12 and March 29.

Vanian’s largest monetary contributors included $125 from Ruth Sears and $100 from Susan Wilmont.

Vanian ended the second reporting period with zero funds on hand after spending $340 with Richard Votero for “coaching and editing,” $160 at Office Depot for “brochures,” and $89 at Copy Copy for a “large sign.”

Ward 3 candidate Ksana Ogelsby did not receive any contributions or make any expenditures between March 13 and March 28.

Uncontested races

Paula Stepp, running unopposed for the Ward 4 seat being vacated by Glenwood Springs Mayor Michael Gamba, who cannot seek re-election due to term limits, did not receive any monetary contributions or make any expenditures during the second filing period.

The same was true for the unopposed Ward 1 incumbent, Councilman Steve Davis.

mabennett@postindependent.com

Letter: Another student for Willman

Today I would like to tell our community about my mock trial coach and my City Council candidate, Charlie Willman.

This spring, I asked Charlie if I could interview him about his candidacy for a paper. When listening to his goals for Glenwood and Ward 3, all I could think was “Right. On. Point.” His support to fix our streets, his plan to renew Sixth street, and his hopes to create affordable housing are all on point for what our community needs. 

I believe Charlie also hit one of the most important parts of a campaign, community outreach. He plans to have neighborhood street parties where his constituents can come meet with him and voice their concerns. I feel this is the most important part of the local government as the councilors are supposed to represent you, the people. 

I personally know that Charlie will always be your advocate. Charlie is also the most qualified person for the job. He has been on the Downtown Development Authority for seven years and is currently a member of both the Financial Advisory Board and the city’s Transportation Commission while still making the time to run a nationally recognized mock trial program.

I have known Charlie for the past three years, and he has shown what it truly means to be a civil servant. You must understand that Charlie has more patience than almost any other person if he’s volunteering his time to coach highly trained argumentative teenagers. 

Even with the stigma of being a lawyer, he is one of the most loving and funniest men I know and it has been an honor to have him as a coach. 

Charlie is the advocate we need for Ward 3. I am only 17, so I won’t be able to vote for him in the upcoming election, but there is no doubt in my mind that I would check his name on the ballot. If you know Glenwood, you know Charlie Willman is the best candidate.

Linnaea Petterson

Glenwood Springs

Letter: Be respectful, please

About a week or so ago I was thinking how politely political our citizens of Glenwood Springs were — we have two three-way council races and one controversial ballot issue. 

It seemed as if citizens were engaged by attending public issues and answers, writing letters to the editor and openly discussing their points of view. It was exciting. 

And now, citizens, proposed candidates and proponents/opponents of the ballot issue are in a street fight of sorts.

I’m not writing to get into the game of verbal assaults but to simply say — are you really thinking about the good of the town or your ego(s)? Let everyone get their facts straight before speaking. If you have a “plan” to help Glenwood then state it, share it. 

And lastly, you don’t have to agree with one another but be respectful. The preverbal Golden Rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” never goes out of style.

Suzanne Stewart

Glenwood Springs