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Incumbents in, challengers anticipated for April Glenwood City Council elections

The three incumbents are declared, and challengers have until Jan. 25 to gather nominating signatures to run for Glenwood Springs City Council April 6.

Formally announcing their intentions over the weekend for reelection to the Ward 2 and Ward 5 seats, respectively, were Ingrid Wussow and Jonathan Godes. Their announcements come on the heels of At-Large Councilwoman Shelley Kaup’s Thursday announcement that she, too, will be seeking a second consecutive four-year term on council.

As of Friday, petitions had been picked up for all three seats, Acting City Clerk Steve Boyd said.

Candidates have until Jan. 25 to gather the required number of signatures and submit their nominations. Signatures can come from registered city voters, either citywide for the At-Large seat, or from within one of the wards for those seats.

Ward 2 takes in the northwestern portion of Glenwood Springs west of Traver Trail and north of the Colorado River. Ward 5 encompasses the south Glenwood area, west of the Roaring Fork River and south of 27th Street.

City Council nominating petitions available

Those wishing to run for a City Council seat in the regular election of the City of Glenwood Springs on April 6 may pick up a nominating petition from the City Clerk at City Hall, 101 W. 8th Street, Suite 325, by appointment by calling 970-384-6406.

There are three City Council seats up for election — Wards 2 and 5 and one At Large seat — all for four-year terms.

According to a city news release, all candidates must be a citizen of the United States, have resided withing Glenwood Springs city limits for one year immediately prior to the date of the election, and be a qualified elector as defined by the laws of the State of Colorado. Candidates wishing to run in Wards 2 and 5 must reside in one of those wards.

Petitions must be returned to the City Clerk no later than 5 p.m. Jan. 25.

There is no party affiliation designation or requirement to be seated on City Council.

For more information, contact the Assistant City Clerk at 970-384-6406.

Godes seeks second term

Jonathan Godes

Godes was first elected to the Ward 5 seat in April 2017, and currently sits in the council-appointed position as mayor.

“There is critical work we must continue in order to recover from the devastating effects of the COVID 19 pandemic and the Grizzly Creek Fire,” Godes said in a prepared statement announcing his intentions to seek reelection.

“The economic, infrastructure and public health toll this has taken on our community needs to be our focus in the next several years.”

Godes also said he will continue to be a leading voice against expansion of the Rocky Mountain Industrials (RMI) limestone strip mine just north of town.

“I hope to continue this fight, and to make sure that we win,” he said.

Godes noted that he helped to secure more than $10 million in federal and state grants for the 27th Street Bridge replacement and the South Midland Avenue reconstruction.

“In the next six months, South Bridge, after nearly 20 years, will be ’shovel-ready,’ and we have the first $24 million designated towards its construction,” Godes said, acknowledging that the city has worked with the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority and Colorado Department of Transportation to reduce costs for that project by $25 million.

“These projects are what motivated me to run for City Council four years ago, and their completion will be my priority in my next term,” he said. “I was also a strong public health voice for making vaping products harder to get for our kids, and for the early adoption of an indoor face mask order.”

In addition, Godes pointed to ongoing city investments in fiber internet and renewable energy sourcing.

“The next several years holds exciting opportunities and a need for further community conversation around (several) questions,” he said.

Those include, how best to diversify the city’s economy, how to “find the right balance between protecting our local businesses and the health of our citizens,” how to revitalize the West Glenwood Mall, and how to maintain “small-town character” while meeting housing needs.

Wussow seeks election to appointed seat

Ingrid Wussow

Wussow is seeking formal election to the Ward 2 seat that she was appointed to fill last fall, replacing former Councilor Rick Voorhees.

She is a fifth-generation local and longtime resident of West Glenwood.

“I’m looking forward to representing constituents of Ward 2 as well as the Glenwood Springs community at broad,” Wussow said in a statement. “I recognize the importance of making solid plans that respect our present economy, pay heed to our past and support our future.”

As a past member of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission for the last four-plus years, she said that has helped her understand the growth and development issues facing Glenwood Springs.

“My goal is to never lose sight of first serving the people who live here while still creating an environment that welcomes visitors and supports the tourist economy,” Wussow said.

“There are so many different perspectives to any issue, that requires slowing down and hearing all sides,” she said. “I plan to listen and will make easily accessible opportunities for West Glenwood community members to be heard.”

Wussow gave a nod to the challenges businesses have faced this past year during the pandemic restrictions, and said she looks forward to providing continued support.

She also said she supports the continued efforts to fight the RMI mine expansion.

“Taking care of locals is a huge priority to me,” she said. “That means making sure we manage growth with common sense, invest in infrastructure and create recreational opportunities that support our locals.”

jstroud@postindependent.com

Kaup to seek reelection to at-large Glenwood Springs City Council seat

In this April 2017 file photo, Shelley Kaup spends the evening with friends, family and supporters at the Rivers Restaurant waiting for election results.

Glenwood Springs City Council member Shelley Kaup says she will seek reelection to another four-year term to one of council’s two at-large seats in the April 3 election.

“The next few years are critical to help the city recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Grizzly Creek Fire,” Kaup said in a formal statement announcing her reelection bid.

“I have a vision for Glenwood Springs to prioritize quality of life for our residents, strengthen our diverse economy and safeguard our neighborhoods and environment from the impacts of growth,” she said. “My experience and willingness to work through tough issues uniquely qualifies me to get the job done.”

Kaup was elected to the at-large seat in April 2017, and had previously served a term on council in her downtown ward seat from 2007-11.

Petitions to run for three City Council seats that are up for election in April were made available the first week of January.

Also to be decided in the April 6 election will be the Ward 5 seat (south Glenwood) held by current appointed Mayor Jonathan Godes, and the Ward 2 seat (west and north Glenwood) held by Ingrid Wussow, who was appointed last year to fill out the term vacated by former councilman Rick Voorhees.

Godes and Wussow both said Thursday they intend to run in the April election, but no challengers have yet emerged. Candidate petitions are due at the end of January.

Kaup, who currently serves as mayor pro-tem, pointed to several achievements over the past four years in making her formal announcement, including support for local businesses and individuals during the pandemic.

“We were among the first local governments in Colorado to put a mask order in place, and we worked closely with the Chamber and Downtown Development Authority to deal with economic impacts,” Kaup said.

“The city has loosened regulations to allow restaurants to serve customers outdoors, provided business grants from the CARES Act to businesses most impacted by the pandemic, and directed $236,000 to local charities to make sure families in our community have support and enough to eat,” she said.

Kaup also cited the city’s response to last summer’s Grizzly Creek Fire, protecting the city and its water intake system at the time of the fire, and working with federal officials to prevent erosion on fire-damaged slopes within the city’s watershed.

Kaup noted that she has also been a champion for the new in-town recycling center, contracting for renewable energy to be part of the city electric supply, making improvements to the Two Rivers Park riverbank, and numerous street and infrastructure upgrades.

“We still have a lot of work to do, but we are making progress,” Kaup said.

She said she continues to support other council members and residents in opposing the Rocky Mountain Industrials plan to greatly expand the limestone quarry on Transfer Trail.

“We have taken that fight to the highest levels of government, and we will continue to protect our community and our economy from what would be a devastating impact to our city,” Kaup said in her release.

Kaup has lived in Glenwood Springs since 1988.

jstroud@postindependent.com

Guest opinion: Boebert’s first week in office should be her last

The day before thousands of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building, Rep. Lauren Boebert tweeted, “I’m standing STRONG for election integrity & objecting to the Electoral College certification!”

One could choose to view her words as benignly as Garfield County Commissioner John Martin does. In a recent interview with Grand Junction Sentinel, Martin had no criticism of Boebert and other legislators who refused to accept the 2020 election results. “They spoke what they believed in,” Martin said.

We disagree. It is obviously the duty of elected officials to consider the consequences of their words and actions.

Boebert and the other 146 Republican Congresspeople who continued to parrot Trump’s big lie about the presidential election results were not simply exercising their right to free speech. They were spreading false information about our nation’s elections. Neither the Supreme Court, U.S. Attorney General or FBI have found any evidence of election fraud that would have changed the fact that Biden won.

These legislators were also demonstrating a blatant disregard for the U.S. Constitution. As GOP Rep. Ken Buck, Chair of the Colorado Republican Party, reminded his colleagues: the Constitution does not give Congress the power to decide whether or not to accept certified Electoral College votes submitted by the states.

Finally, the 147 Republicans who refused to accept the 2020 election results were fueling the fire under white supremacists who made no secret of their plans to disrupt the election certification process.

Inspired by Trump’s fiction that the election was rigged, pro-Trump zealots had been filling social media platforms for weeks with thousands of posts calling for violence in Washington, D.C. on Jan.6.

As Republican Russ George, Rifle resident and former speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, told the Grand Junction Sentinel, the legislators who rejected the 2020 election results share blame for the attack on our nation’s Capitol.

Determined to promote her “I’ll do whatever the hell I want” image, Boebert took a step further than many of her Republican colleagues. She tweeted provocative messages invoking times of violent insurrection. “The Founding Fathers did not back down when people told them what they could and could not do,” she tweeted on Jan. 5. “Today is 1776,” she tweeted the next morning.

Hours later, “1776!” was the chant that a mob of Proud Boys shouted as they charged the Capitol. Boebert touts herself as a champion of “law and order,” yet it is rhetoric like hers that led directly to the violence and chaos we witnessed last week, including the killing of a police officer.

Did Boebert not understand that her “just try to stop me” attitude toward the “stolen election” and her references to armed insurrection were inciting mobs of white supremacists? Or did she understand the implications of her words and actions, and move forward with them anyway? Either way, Boebert is clearly unfit for her position.

The morning of the insurrection, Boebert took the floor of the U.S. Congress to give a loud, fiery speech about a “completely indefensible act” in Arizona, which she said amounted to voter fraud. What was this egregious act that angered her so? An Arizona judge allowed for 10 extra days of voter registration in October, due to COVID.

“All of these votes are unconstitutional,” Boebert shouted, referring to the votes cast by people who registered during the extended voter registration period. Every member of Congress who certified Arizona’s election results, she charged, “has sided with the extreme left.”

Watching Boebert get completely unhinged about the idea of making it easier for U.S. citizens to vote in elections was not the most disturbing part of her diatribe that day. Less than 30 minutes before rioters charged the Capitol building, Boebert told the nation, “I have constituents outside this building right now. I promised my constituents to be their voice!”

Boebert seems to believe that it is her job to be a voice for the kind of people that were rioting at the People’s House that day.

Boebert should be removed from office before she does any further damage to our democracy. We can’t afford two more years of her fanning the flames of Q-Anon, Proud Boys and other white nationalist groups.

A broad coalition of over 65 Colorado legislators, labor unions and other organizations have already banded together to demand Boebert’s resignation. Progress Now Colorado is circulating an online petition to hold Boebert and Colorado U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn accountable for their roles in helping to incite the insurrection.

The Garfield County Democrats will also be organizing efforts to push for Boebert’s expulsion from Congress and to build the infrastructure needed to elect a Democratic Representative in 2022. We invite you to join us.

Debbie Bruell is communications coordinator and John Krousouloudis is chairman of the Garfield County Democratic Party. Also signing on to this commentary are the respective chairs of the Pitkin, Mesa and Montrose county Democrats, Howard Wallach, Maria Keenan and Kevin Kuns.

Congresswoman-elect Boebert appoints outgoing Trump, Gardner staff

RIFLE, Colo. (AP) — Congresswoman-elect Lauren Boebert of Rifle has appointed Trump administration officials and staffers for outgoing Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner to top positions in her office.

Jeff Small, current senior adviser to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, will be Boebert’s chief of staff, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported Wednesday.

Paige Agostin will be Boebert’s legislative director. She is currently associate director of domestic policy in Vice President Mike Pence’s office. Clarice Navarro, who was appointed by the Trump administration to be Colorado executive director for the Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency, has been selected as Boebert’s district director.

Ben Goldey, who is currently press secretary for the Interior Department, will serve as Boebert’s communications director.

Cathy Garcia will serve as Boebert’s southern Colorado regional director. She has held the same position with Gardner since 2015.

Boebert will represent the state’s 3rd Congressional District after beating incumbent Scott Tipton in the Republican primaries and Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush in November.

Congresswoman-elect Boebert to challenge Electoral College vote

Lauren Boebert, the Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives seat in Colorado's vast 3rd Congressional District, attends a freedom cruise staged by her supporters Friday, Sept. 4, in Pueblo
David Zalubowski/AP

Congresswoman-elect Lauren Boebert intends to kick off her tenure by stepping into political controversy when she arrives in Washington.

The Republican who will represent the Western Slope and Pueblo when she takes office Jan. 3 announced Thursday that she will challenge the results of the presidential election won by former Vice President Joe Biden.

Boebert, who asked Capitol law enforcement last month about carrying her Glock on Capitol grounds, said she will object to the results of the Electoral College. In a news release Thursday, the 34-year-old from Rifle repeated claims about voter fraud and technical issues with voting machines — accusations perpetuated by President Donald Trump without evidence.

“The American people deserve secure and fair elections,” Boebert said. “Unfortunately, the 2020 election was neither of those things.”

Boebert repeated unfounded claims that ballots were fraudulent or not properly counted in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia and Michigan — all states won by Biden. Trump and his allies have lost more than 40 challenges to the presidential election in various courts across the country.

For more on this story, go to coloradosun.com.

The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported news organization dedicated to covering the people, places and policies that matter in Colorado. Read more, sign up for free newsletters and subscribe at coloradosun.com.

Final Garfield County election tally seals seventh term for Commissioner John Martin; Soto applauds ‘historic’ voter turnout

In what ended up being a record voter turnout year for Garfield County, unofficial final election results released Friday handed an equally historic seventh Garfield County Commission term to John Martin.

After the remaining ballots that were in play following the Nov. 3 general election were counted, the long-time Republican incumbent came away with 14,718 votes to 14,217 for runner-up Beatriz Soto, the Democratic challenger, and 1,315 for unaffiliated candidate Brian Bark.

The 501-vote difference between Martin and Soto was not quite as close as Martin’s respective 365- and 229-vote wins over Democrats Stephen Bershenyi in 2008 and Greg Jeung in 2004, according to Garfield County Election archives and Post Independent files.

The margins of separation were 1.17% versus Jeung, 1.65% versus Soto and 1.67% versus Bershenyi.

The unofficial final results for Garfield County also confirmed the win for fellow Republican County Commissioner Mike Samson, who had 15,394 votes, or 51.7%, to Democrat Leslie Robinson’s 14,401, or 48.3%.

Garfield County also had a record 85.4% turnout, with 31,245 out of 36,582 possible ballots cast. That was up from just over 84% turnout in the 2016 Presidential Election.

Martin, in an earlier interview, called the close outcome between he and Soto a “great awakening,” and said it’s time to “find common ground” and to work through some of the issues that are so polarizing, both locally and on a state and national scale.

“I never hold anything against anyone, and I do want to learn from folks for the benefit of all our people here in Garfield County,” he said. “Now that the politics are over, it’s time to take care of people.”

Soto congratulated Martin on winning another term, and encouraged future candidates for county commissioner and other local offices to “connect with all their constituents, including Latinos and younger voters.”

“We joined a tough race late in the game and still made history,” she said.

“We had historic voter turnout in Garfield County, from left-leaning and progressive voters as well as Latino voters,” Soto said. “While many of us wanted a different outcome, I want to encourage the people that did not vote for the incumbent to stay positive, engage and allow ourselves to celebrate our wins.”

The final tally for Garfield County voting also confirmed that Congresswoman-elect Lauren Boebert of Rifle, though she won the overall Colorado 3rd Congressional District vote, lost in her own backyard to Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush.

Mitsch Bush had 15,531 votes in Garfield County to Boebert’s 13,756, for a 51% to 45% difference. A pair of third-party candidates picked up 3.8% of the county’s votes.

Boebert won the overall 3rd District race with 51.4% of the vote to Mitsch Bush’s 45.2%, Libertarian John Keil’s 2.4% and the Unity Party’s Critter Milton’s 1%.

Garfield County also followed the voting statewide and nationally in choosing Joe Biden over Donald Trump for President of the United States. Biden had 15,427 of the county’s votes (49.8%) to Trump’s 14,717 (47.5%).

The unofficial final results for the county are to be canvassed and certified as official this week.

jstroud@postindependent.com

Second effort to recall Gov. Jared Polis in as many years fails after group doesn’t turn in signatures

The long-shot bid to recall Gov. Jared Polis, the second in as many years, has fizzled after organizers didn’t turn in signatures that were due Friday to force a special election to oust the Democrat.

Recall Polis 2020 needed to collect 631,266 signatures in 60 days to force a recall election. The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office says it received no signatures by 5 p.m. on Friday, the deadline.

The group raised little money and its efforts received no backing from big-name political leaders in Colorado, making its unlikely bid even more so. No group in Colorado has ever amassed the number of signatures that were needed to recall Polis.

In a message on a private Facebook page, the organizers behind the Polis recall said they were asking for an extension to gather more signatures because of the coronavirus crisis, but didn’t say who was being asked for an extension.

Read more via The Colorado Sun.

The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported news organization dedicated to covering the people, places and policies that matter in Colorado. Read more, sign up for free newsletters and subscribe at coloradosun.com.

Biden, Harris win White House, vowing new direction for divided US

WASHINGTON — Democrat Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump to become the 46th president of the United States on Saturday, positioning himself to lead a nation gripped by historic pandemic and a confluence of economic and social turmoil.

His victory came after more than three days of uncertainty as election officials sorted through a surge of mail-in votes that delayed the processing of some ballots. Biden crossed 270 Electoral College votes with a win in Pennsylvania.

Biden, 77, staked his candidacy less on any distinctive political ideology than on galvanizing a broad coalition of voters around the notion that Trump posed an existential threat to American democracy. The strategy proved effective, resulting in pivotal victories in Michigan and Wisconsin as well as Pennsylvania, onetime Democratic bastions that had flipped to Trump in 2016.

Biden was on track to win the national popular vote by more than 4 million, a margin that could grow as ballots continue to be counted.

Trump seized on delays in processing the vote in some states to falsely allege voter fraud and argue that his rival was trying to seize power — an extraordinary charge by a sitting president trying to sow doubt about a bedrock democratic process.

As the vote count played out, Biden tried to ease tensions and project an image of presidential leadership, hitting notes of unity that were seemingly aimed at cooling the temperature of a heated, divided nation.

“We have to remember the purpose of our politics isn’t total unrelenting, unending warfare,” Biden said Friday night in Delaware. “No, the purpose of our politics, the work of our nation, isn’t to fan the flames of conflict, but to solve problems, to guarantee justice, to give everybody a fair shot.”

Kamala Harris also made history as the first Black woman to become vice president, an achievement that comes as the U.S. faces a reckoning on racial justice. The California senator, who is also the first person of South Asian descent elected to the vice presidency, will become the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in government, four years after Trump defeated Hillary Clinton.

Trump is the first incumbent president to lose reelection since Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992. It was unclear whether Trump would publicly concede.

Americans showed deep interest in the presidential race. A record 103 million voted early this year, opting to avoid waiting in long lines at polling locations during a pandemic. With counting continuing in some states, Biden had already received more than 74 million votes, more than any presidential candidate before him.

More than 236,000 Americans have died during the coronavirus pandemic, nearly 10 million have been infected and millions of jobs have been lost. The final days of the campaign played out against the backdrop of a surge in confirmed cases in nearly every state, including battlegrounds such as Wisconsin that swung to Biden.

The pandemic will soon be Biden’s to tame, and he campaigned pledging a big government response, akin to what Franklin D. Roosevelt oversaw with the New Deal during the Depression of the 1930s. But Senate Republicans fought back several Democratic challengers and looked to retain a fragile majority that could serve as a check on such Biden ambition.

The 2020 campaign was a referendum on Trump’s handling of the pandemic, which has shuttered schools across the nation, disrupted businesses and raised questions about the feasibility of family gatherings heading into the holidays.

The fast spread of the coronavirus transformed political rallies from standard campaign fare to gatherings that were potential public health emergencies. It also contributed to an unprecedented shift to voting early and by mail and prompted Biden to dramatically scale back his travel and events to comply with restrictions. Trump defied calls for caution and ultimately contracted the disease himself. He was saddled throughout the year by negative assessments from the public of his handling of the pandemic.

Biden also drew a sharp contrast to Trump through a summer of unrest over the police killings of Black Americans including Breonna Taylor in Kentucky and George Floyd in Minneapolis. Their deaths sparked the largest racial protest movement since the civil rights era. Biden responded by acknowledging the racism that pervades American life, while Trump emphasized his support of police and pivoted to a “law and order” message that resonated with his largely white base.

The president’s most ardent backers never wavered and may remain loyal to him and his supporters in Congress after Trump has departed the White House.

The third president to be impeached, though acquitted in the Senate, Trump will leave office having left an indelible imprint in a tenure defined by the shattering of White House norms and a day-to-day whirlwind of turnover, partisan divide and the ever-present threat via his Twitter account.

Biden, born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and raised in Delaware, was one of the youngest candidates ever elected to the Senate. Before he took office, his wife and daughter were killed, and his two sons badly injured in a 1972 car crash.

Commuting every night on a train from Washington back to Wilmington, Biden fashioned an everyman political persona to go along with powerful Senate positions, including chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Foreign Relations Committees. Some aspects of his record drew critical scrutiny from fellow Democrats, including his support for the 1994 crime bill, his vote for the 2003 Iraq War and his management of the Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court hearings.

Biden’s 1988 presidential campaign was done in by plagiarism allegations, and his next bid in 2008 ended quietly. But later that year, he was tapped to be Barack Obama’s running mate and he became an influential vice president, steering the administration’s outreach to both Capitol Hill and Iraq.

While his reputation was burnished by his time in office and his deep friendship with Obama, Biden stood aside for Clinton and opted not to run in 2016 after his adult son Beau died of brain cancer the year before.

Trump’s tenure pushed Biden to make one more run as he declared that “the very soul of the nation is at stake.”

___

Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report.

It’s official: Voters decide to reintroduce wolves in Colorado

Unleash the hounds. 

Proposition 114 was decided Thursday as votes from heavily populated Front Range counties pushed the wolf reintroduction plan to victory. 

The measure, which tasks Colorado Parks and Wildlife with crafting a plan by the end of 2023 to reintroduce wolves into the Western Slope, was too close to call on Tuesday night and all day Wednesday. The tightest statewide ballot issue in Colorado’s 2020 election, Proposition 114 was ahead by a narrow margin that veered close to triggering an automatic recount. 

Opponents of the measure conceded the race on Thursday. Even though there were more than 300,000 votes yet to be counted, a lead of more than 20,000 votes out of 2.97 million cast appeared insurmountable. 

Coloradans Protecting Wildlife, the group opposing Proposition 114, said in a statement that it believed “forced wolf reintroduction” into Colorado is bad policy that should not have been decided by voters. 

Read more via The Colorado Sun.

The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported news organization dedicated to covering the people, places and policies that matter in Colorado. Read more, sign up for free newsletters and subscribe at coloradosun.com.

Hanlon concedes Senate District 8 race after margin moves to Rankin’s favor

The close race for Colorado Senate District 8 is decided, and incumbent Republican Sen. Bob Rankin has won formal election to the seat that he was appointed to fill last year.

His challenger, Democrat Karl Hanlon, called Rankin Thursday morning to formally concede and offer congratulations.

“I got into this race to bring a new voice to rural Colorado and fight for working families on issues that matter to them,” Hanlon said in a message posted to his campaign Facebook page. “I’m really proud of the work my team has done to get us this far and all the supporters throughout the district who believed in a vision of change.

This morning I called Senator Rankin to formally concede and congratulate him on his victory.I got into this race to…

Posted by Hanlon for Colorado on Thursday, November 5, 2020

“While I wish the outcome had been different, I remained heartened by the tens of thousands of voters in Senate District 8 who made their voices heard,” Hanlon concluded.

With ballots still being counted Wednesday and early Thursday in the seven counties that make up SD 8, Rankin’s lead grew past the margin that would have triggered an automatic recount.

Vote tallies reported by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, as of just before 9:30 a.m. Thursday, gave Rankin 50.59% of the vote to Hanlon’s 49.41%, with 986 votes separating the two.

As of the Thursday morning report, Rankin had a total of 42,128 votes to Hanlon’s 41,142.

“I’m very humbled after going through this campaign, and know you should never take for granted the opportunity to serve,” Rankin said Thursday of earning the voters’ nod to keep the senate seat.

“My main issues really had to do with the state of the economy because of the COVID impact, which is not good,” said Rankin, who serves as the senior member on the state Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee. “There is a responsibility with that to help lead the discussion.”

Starting next week, the JBC will be having full-day meetings to start working on the budget and related bills. Rankin also applauded voter approval of Amendment B, repealing the Gallagher Amendment, which he said will go a long way to help with state education funding and help special districts maintain their tax bases.

That’s especially important for fire districts and the special Colorado Mountain College District, which stood to be severely impacted in coming years under Gallagher’s restrictions on maintaining residential property tax rates in Colorado.

Rankin said he also plans to introduce a new bill, titled Wildfire Mitigation, Detection and Suppression, which would dovetail with Gov. Jared Polis’s initiatives to better address wildfire protection in the state after a record wildfire season.

Recount averted

In close races, state law requires an automatic recount if the margin is within 0.5%. The margin between Rankin and Hanlon stands at 1.18% after the latest vote totals.

Senate District 8 includes Garfield, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt, Grand, Jackson and Summit counties.

“We knew it was going to be close, especially with 40% unaffiliated voters now in the district,” Rankin said late Wednesday afternoon. “We knew we had to get some of those votes to win.”

Rankin congratulated Hanlon on a “hard-fought campaign,” but decried some of the outside negative advertising directed at him.

“Karl and I had a civil campaign, but there were a lot of negative mailers, and that could have made a difference,” Rankin said of the close election.

Hanlon had taken the early lead Tuesday night based on returns from the mountain resort areas, but the race narrowed as returns came in from the more-conservative western parts of the district.

“This is a district that is really focused on the issues, and is trying to find a way to the candidate who can represent them on the issues that are really important to people,” Hanlon said on election night.

“I had always said when we talked about this race during the campaign that it would come down to a couple hundred votes,” Hanlon added in a follow-up interview on Wednesday.

Returns had Hanlon, from Carbondale, winning in Routt and Summit counties, while Rankin had the edge in Garfield, Rio Blanco, Moffat, Grand and Jackson counties.

Rankin, also from Carbondale, formerly served nine years in the state House of Representatives. He sought election to the SD 8 seat he was appointed to in January 2019, replacing disgraced former Sen. Randy Baumgardner who retired after sexual harassment allegations and a subsequent investigation.

Rankin defeated Debra Irvine of Breckenridge in the June Republican primary. He serves as the senior member of the Joint Budget Committee.

His wife, Joyce Rankin, won reelection Tuesday to the state Board of Education from Colorado’s Third District over Democrat Mayling Simpson of Steamboat Springs.

Hanlon is a municipal and special district government and water attorney, who currently serves as the contract city attorney for Glenwood Springs.

He and his wife, Sheryl Barto, run the Smiling Goat Ranch, which provides equine therapy services for autistic children and veterans with PTSD.

Hanlon ran for the 3rd Congressional District seat in 2018, losing in the primary to Diane Mitsch Bush. He won this year’s primary for the state senate seat over Democrat Arn Menconi of Eagle.

jstroud@postindendent.com