Council incumbents ousted
Post Independent Staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Tuesday’s City Council election just goes to show that every vote does count.
As such, it looks like four new City Council members will be sworn in on Thursday night.
According to the unofficial tally released by Garfield County Clerk Mildred Alsdorf on Tuesday night, Ward 1 Glenwood Springs City Council challenger Larry Beckwith, 58, defeated incumbent Rick Davis, 52, by three votes ” less than 1 percent. The final count was 192-189.
According to Garfield County voting law, the close vote will trigger a recount. But it’s unclear when the official results will be available.
“Hopefully they didn’t count wrong the first time by three,” Beckwith jested after hearing the unofficial final results.
Either way, Beckwith said his goal was to give the voters of Glenwood Springs a choice and let them decide, and that’s what happened.
“If it’s me who wins, it’s time to get to work,” he added.
In reaction to the results, City Councilman Rick Davis said, “There’s a lot of work in store for whoever wins. Good luck to whoever wins and good luck to council.”
In the only other contested City Council race, Joe O’Donnell beat incumbent Don Gillespie in the At Large race. The unofficial final result was 1,168 to 842, 58 to 42 percent.
The other newly elected council members ” both of whom ran unopposed ” will be Ward 4 member Bruce Christensen and Ward 3 councilwoman Chris McGovern, who ran as a write-in candidate.
O’Donnell, a 64-year-old retired police detective, was ready to celebrate a win or a loss at his “Thrill of Victory or Agony of Defeat” party in the main bar of the Hotel Colorado. He was low-key but pleased about his victory.
“I hoped to win,” he said. “It’s difficult to unseat an incumbent, but I thought the council needed a change, and I had high hopes of winning.”
That incumbent, City Councilman Don Gillespie, 62, said he has no regrets about the way he ran his campaign, or about the decisions he made during his four years on council.
“I congratulate him,” Gillespie said of O’Donnell.
City Councilman Dave Merritt, who has two more years before he’s up for re-election, attended O’Donnell’s party at Hotel Colorado.
“I think, as they say, the people have spoken,” Merritt said. “We have sensed over the last year a pretty strong undercurrent about City Council decisions, and Joe ran a good campaign.”
City Councilwoman Jean Martensen, who chose not to seek re-election, thinks O’Donnell will be a good addition to council.
“He has an inquiring mind and he has the persistence and perseverance to carry through on issues and projects,” she said.
McGovern, who will take over for Martensen after she’s sworn in on Thursday night, said she’s “looking forward to working with people in a professional manner on items that are of importance to the area.”
McGovern was in Florida on Tuesday night, but said she’ll be back for the swearing-in ceremony on Thursday.
Bruce Christensen, who will take Mayor Don Vanderhoof’s seat on Thursday, was not available for comment on Thursday. Vanderhoof was forced from office by term limits after serving on council for eight years.
The city’s ballot question that asked voters whether the minimum threshold for competitive bidding could be raised from $5,000 to $25,000 passed by a vote of 1,447-563.
Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511
Larry Beckwith, 192, 50.4 percent
Rick Davis, 189, 49.6 percent
Don Gillespie, 842, 42 percent
Joe O’Donnell, 1,168, 58 percent
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