Passage of Glenwood ballot question confirmed after recount

Pete FowlerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Ballot question 2B has proven to be a tough question, even after passing by two votes in a recount.Its passage with a nearly split vote left city officials wondering what the appropriate response would be to best accommodate both sides.With the vote made official by a recount Tuesday, Glenwood Springs will save money by publishing only titles of ordinances in newspapers instead of the full texts. A two vote difference had triggered the automatic recount because it represented less than half of 1 percent of the higher number – in this case the yes votes coming in at 722 compared to 720 no votes.”I’d say we thought it was a good thing,” City Manager Jeff Hecksel said. “But I think there’s some recognition on the part of the council, and for that matter senior staff, as far as trying to make sure that people have the information they want and need.”He added that City Council and city staff shouldn’t ignore the majority of votes and decide to continue publishing the ordinances in full, but that there is sensitivity to the others whose votes indicate they want the ordinances published in full.City Clerk Robin Unsworth said, “It’s nice to know we have a final number, but I agree with Jeff. It’s so close that we have to go with the majority, but at the same time almost the same number of people want to see it, so we have to try to address both issues.”She said legal ads published with the title of ordinances will refer people to the city’s website to view the full text.Initial results showed 2B passing by 722 to 719, but the margin was narrowed after a canvas board marked the results at 722 to 720. Garfield County Clerk Jean Alberico hadn’t expected the recount to change the outcome of the vote, but she was glad it came up with the same results.”That’s what you always hope for,” she said.She said the recount took about four hours Tuesday morning. She thought the last recount was during a 2000 election when a recount had to be done for a race to a seat on the Colorado State board of education. But this recount proved easier to handle.”This was a really easy one to do because it wasn’t dealing with that many ballots,” she said. “It wasn’t a big election to start with, plus we were able to pull out just the Glenwood Springs ballots.”Since only the one Glenwood Springs ballot question required a recount, the clerk and recorder’s office recounted only the 1,532 Glenwood Springs ballots out of 6,019 total in Garfield County.To conduct the count, the office hand counted 50 ballots and ran them through one counting machine. After verifying the results matched in both counts, all 1,532 ballots were run through the machine again, Alberico said.The city wanted to pass the question as a cost-saving measure. Officials felt that the city could better inform people at a lower cost by posting ordinances on its website and having them available for inspection at City Hall, instead of paying to publish them in newspaper legal ads. The city questioned whether people even read the fine print. The city said it spent around $7,000 last year publishing ordinances and other public notices.Despite the city’s reasoning behind the question, some felt publishing the ordinances in full provides a valuable service, and that the cost of legal notices is next to nothing compared to the size of a government budget.Hecksel and Unsworth found it surprising the issue came to such a close vote.”I was surprised as well,” Hecksel said. “I didn’t realize that perhaps as many people read those little tiny letters in the newspaper. Or perhaps it was the notion that, ‘More information is better than less even if I don’t read it.'”Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121pfowler@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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