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Updated vote count shakes up top candidates in Rifle City Council race

Close race likely to prompt automatic recount, says Garfield County Clerk

A new batch of votes in the 2021 local elections shows that a Rifle City Council candidate who was originally out of contention has now found himself sitting in the final open seat.

As of Tuesday night, candidate Derek Davis held enough votes (480) to take the fifth seat of Rifle’s five open seats in the race. The first four seats are to serve full four-year terms while the fifth seat is for a two-year term.

As of Wednesday afternoon, however, new numbers provide by the Garfield County Clerk’s Office show candidate Chris Bornholdt now sitting in fifth place with 649 votes. Davis now sits in sixth place in the race, with 642 votes.



Meanwhile, candidate Clint Hostettler sits in first place place with 985 votes, Joe Carpenter is in second place 969 votes and Sean Strode is in third place with 735 votes.

Candidate Alicia Gresley sits in fourth place with 650 votes.



Garfield County Clerk Jean Alberico said, since the race is so close and all ballots have yet been received, it’s likely an automatic recount will take place. An automatic recount is prompted when the difference between the final two candidates in the Rifle City Council race is less than half of 1%.

Alberico said she hopes to have a recount scheduled either by Nov. 19 or Nov. 23.

The four candidates who received the highest number of votes once balloting ended are slated to serve a full four-year term. The candidate who received the fifth-highest number of votes is slated to serve a two-year term.

Eight candidates vied this year for five open seats on the council. Among them were the incumbents, Strode, Hostettler and Carpenter.

Strode was first elected in September 2017.

Throughout his campaign, Strode has advocated for focusing on preserving and bolstering existing small businesses in the area. Strode also advocates for various affordable housing projects.

“I’m just honored that I was selected to do another four-year term,” Strode said. “The first four-year term has been such a positive learning experience and me trying to make the best decisions for the city.”

Strode said he wants to continue to support the businesses of Rifle.

“Through COVID, we really tried to do that by allocating funds though forgivable loans,” he said. “And I don’t want to wait for some big company to come to boost economic development. I want to support the people who’ve put their jobs on the line and support our community. I think that’s what’s most important.”

Hostettler was first appointed to council in 2018 and again in 2020. He strongly advocates for bringing more jobs and businesses into the community so that less residents have to commute outside of the city to make a living.

“I’m happy that the people of Rifle voted for me, and I just want to continue doing what I’ve been doing,” he said. “I want to keep the city moving forward with infrastructure, roads, water and all the important things.”

Carpenter, ending his first four-year term, also advocates for creating more affordable housing opportunities in Rifle. In addition, Carpenter wants to see more businesses come to the area.

“I’m just happy that the people of Rifle are giving us another four years, and hopefully we can continue what I think is a good job,” Carpenter said. “We’ve had some speed bumps, we’ve had some unfortunate things that have happened downtown, but we’ve learned some valuable lessons.”

Carpenter said the city needs to make sure the downtown area thrives.

“We don’t want to be known as a bedroom community; we’d rather be our own entity,” he said. “A lot of (energy extraction) money has gone away, and we’ve become more dependent on sales tax revenues, which is a good sign for Rifle. We need to make sure local business is alive and well and thriving. We need to make Rifle more of a destination place.”

Among first-time council hopefuls were Bud Demicell, Tamara Degler, Chris Bornholdt, as well as Gresley and Davis.

Gresley ran on emphasizing more community harmony and ensuring everyone has access to good health care, affordable housing and high-speed internet. She also advocates for promoting the area’s various parks and amenities, including the city’s acquisition of Paradise Island to be used for recreational opportunities.

“I’m really excited and just feel honored that the citizens of Rifle have chosen me to represent them, and hopefully I can do them proud and build on the great work this council has done,” Gresley said.

Gresley looks forward to opening up more communication between the council and community, saying “everyone has one thing they’re good at, and for me, that’s communication.”

“Everybody has a lot of great ideas or input into the community, and I think there might have been a little breakdown in communication,” she said. “I think also just promoting our great city and what we have to offer (is important).”

Throughout his campaign, Davis has advocated for advertising Rifle’s amenities online and through signs on Garfield County roadways. He has also advocated for creating a five-year strategic plan on infrastructure, commerce and recreation.

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or rerku@citizentelegram.com.


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