Chamberlain adding up |

Chamberlain adding up

Longtime Garfield County Treasurer Georgia Chamberlain was counting votes the way she counts dollars Tuesday, and she liked how things were adding up.

“It looks good, I think,” Chamberlain, a Democrat, said after early and absentee ballots had been tallied in her race against Republican challenger Cheryl Chandler.

That tally showed Chamberlain holding a commanding lead, which continued to hold after five of 28 precincts had been counted. Chamberlain had 4,381 votes, or 61 percent of the vote, compared to 2,809 for Chandler, or 39 percent.

Chamberlain said she was feeling comfortable that she would win.

“I think I will do well in Carbondale, but I don’t know about the western end of the county,” she said.

Chamberlain lives in Carbondale, which is more heavily Democratic. Chandler lives in the Silt area, in the more Republican western part of the county.

Said Chandler, “It’s just five out of 28 (precincts). Why would anybody go crazy yet?”

Chamberlain said she had no expectations going into Election Day.

“I just was hoping it would go this way. … I didn’t know,” she said.

Chamberlain said she wasn’t thinking beyond Election Day, but added that on Wednesday morning, “It looks like I will be going into work.”

In fact, her current term of office would continue through the end of the year, whatever the outcome of Tuesday’s vote.

Chamberlain moves right from a heated campaign to a big tax sale Thursday. She said thanks to the economic slowdown, this year’s sale could involve 300 properties, up from 160 last year, unless some last-minute tax payments come in.

Reflecting on the early voter endorsement she received Tuesday, she said, “I think I’ve been truthful and I’ve been working for the county and trying to do a good job and that’s what I’m going to continue doing if I win.

“I want to thank everybody for their support and I promise to continue doing a good job.”

As for Chandler, she continued to hold out high hopes for her candidacy as of 10 p.m. Tuesday.

“It’s just very, very early (in the counting). And it’s very exciting, and win, lose or draw, I won because I stepped out and let people know that there’s things going on in this county.”

Speaking from the local Republican Party get-together at Buffalo Valley, Chandler added, “My very, very favorite part of this whole thing is to see Gregg Rippy being ahead.”

Glenwood resident Rippy, a fellow Republican and an incumbent state legislator, was running against Rick Davis, a Glenwood Democrat, in the 61st District House race.

Chandler, a Realtor, said she works with Rippy on legislative affairs issues within her industry.

“I know how valuable that man is for the state of Colorado. I’ll just be valuable for the county.”

Chandler, who took calls from her mother and brother Tuesday, seemed to be enjoying the final day of her campaign, whatever its outcome.

“No regrets,” she said of her decision to run. “This is my county. I live here; this is my home. I’m just willing to serve it.”

The treasurer’s duties include managing a $27 million investment portfolio, collecting $47 million in property taxes, disbursing the county’s budget to various departments, selling tax liens, and more.

Much of the treasurer’s race centered around Chamberlain’s experience versus Chandler’s contention that changes were needed within the office.

Chamberlain has held the office for 16 years. In that time, she says, she has done much to upgrade the office’s computer systems. She continues to work with other county departments on integrating computer systems.

Chandler maintained that Chamberlain wasn’t taking enough advantage of computerization. She also called for more staff training, and for increasing the treasurer’s office staffing in Rifle from a part-time to a full-time position.

Before becoming treasurer, Chamberlain, 54, owned Secretarial Services for eight years.

As treasurer, she helped start a state treasurer certification program, and while serving as president of the Colorado County Treasurers Association, helped write the implementation statutes for the homestead exemption applying to senior property owners.

Chandler, also 54, is a real estate broker for REMAX Mountain West in Glenwood Springs.

She moved to Colorado in 1981, and worked for Unocal’s oil shale operation in Parachute, eventually liquidating its $700 million in local assets upon its plant closure in the early 1990s.

She has served on the Garfield County Planning Commission since 1991, but has said that in accordance with state statutes, she would step down if elected treasurer.

The county treasurer also serves as public trustee. The salary is $60,000 per year.

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