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Houpt leads Stowe in county commissioner race

Just after 9 p.m., upstairs in the Glenwood Canyon Brewpub pool room, a campaign worker handed Tresi Houpt a yellow sticky note that said she was 511 votes ahead of Walt Stowe.

The tally was the night’s first results in the Garfield County Commissioner race, and only included early and absentee vote totals.

“I was told that typically, more conservatives vote early,” said Houpt, a Democratic challenger to the Republican Stowe. “I hope I can keep that lead.”



A couple of miles away at Buffalo Valley, Republicans clustered around a large easel where campaign workers scribbled the first district county commissioner race numbers that showed Houpt had 3,198 votes to Stowe’s 2,687.

“That’s a good start,” Stowe said as he eyeballed the easel then walked away.



By 11 p.m., Houpt had more than doubled her lead, and had 56 percent of the vote compare to Stowe’s 44 percent.

Houpt and her fellow Democrats stood elbow to elbow, and took over the brewpub’s pool room. Pool balls clicked as visitors made their way up and down the short flight of stairs to snack, talk politics and football, and wait for results to flash on several TV screens.

Early in the night, the TV was still flashing zeros under Houpt and Stowe’s pictures. “We’re still tied,” one Democrat told Houpt as he walked by.

Houpt spent the early part of the night shooting eight-ball with sons Frank and Sam. “He beat me,” Houpt said as she sat down to talk about the campaign.

In forums from one end of the county to the other, Houpt said she didn’t agree with Stowe’s vote to vacate a mile-long stretch of road through Prehm Ranch. Other Democrats questioned a possible conflict of interest when Stowe voted on a gravel pit application from consortium of business people that included two campaign donors.

Houpt said she didn’t bring up either issue in her newspaper advertising campaign. “I worked hard to keep it a clean race,” Houpt said. “I didn’t think the voters would appreciate a negative campaign.”

While Houpt kept one eye on the TV screen and another on the pool game Frank was playing a few feet away, 14 year-old Sam took off his head phones, got up from his seat, and joined the conversation.

“I’m glad she ran,” Sam said. “She put a lot of time and effort into it.”

Through the campaign, Sam said he got kidded on both sides. “Some kids would say `Go Walt’ and others said they’d seen me in the papers and on TV.”


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