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September election continues to take shape

Ryan Hoffman
rhoffman@citizentelegram.com
Danielle Hogan, executive assistant, pulls a folded piece of paper out of a tiny Colorado Rockies helmet held by Rifle Clerk Lisa Hamilton Monday at city hall. The ritual determined the order that candidate names would appear on the ballot in Rifle’s fall municipal election.
Ryan Hoffman / Citizen Telegram |

Most of Rifle’s seven candidates for city council have yet to start actively campaigning or identify particular issues they intend on addressing. The one thing that is known is the order their names will appear on the ballot this fall.

City Clerk Lisa Hamilton and Danielle Hogan, executive assistant, folded seven pieces of paper, each with the name of a candidate, and placed them into a tiny Colorado Rockies helmet Monday. One at a time, Hogan pulled the sheets out as Hamilton held the helmet.

Councilor Joe Elliott, the only incumbent in the race, had his name drawn first. Elliott was appointed to council in September 2014 to fill a vacant seat. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but previously said that he hopes to focus on infrastructure if elected to a term.

Drawing a spot in the top could be a benefit, said Ed Green, former Garfield County manager and the only city council candidate who attended the name drawing Monday. His name was pulled fourth.

With four at-large seats — three of which are four-year terms and the fourth is a two-year term — up for election, statistics show that the candidates who appear first on the ballot have a slight edge, Green said, adding that he did not know how large an advantage a spot in the top four would garner.

Others were less sure about the potential benefits.

While some voters who turnout in presidential and primary elections might randomly check some items on the ballot, those who vote in a municipal election are likely to be more knowledgeable of the local issues, said Annick Pruett, candidate and administrative director of community relations at Grand River Health.

“To vote in a municipal election you have to really care,” she said. Pruett’s name will appear second on the ballot.

Aaron Flesch, owner of Aaron’s Heating and Cooling, also said he was unsure of the value of being in the top four — his name was picked third. Name exposure, more so than anything else, will likely be the deciding factor, Flesch said.

Conventional wisdom would say you want to be in the top four, said Theresa Hamilton, director of districtwide services for Garfield Re-2 School District. Although Hamilton’s name will appear fifth on the ballot, just outside the first four, she said she is just happy to be on the ballot.

The two candidates rounding out the ballot, Brent Buss, sixth, and Dana Wood, seventh, both said they were confident in their skills and ability to connect with voters in the coming month. Buss owns Thrifty Thrill Thrift Store, and Wood serves as director of LiveWell Garfield County.

With the order of the names determined, the ballot for the September election is nearly complete. At this point, it is too late for a citizen initiative, and it is too late for council to place an item on the ballot, with the exception of a proposed ballot question on street maintenance, Hamilton, the city clerk, said. Council’s vote on the second reading of the ballot question Wednesday night was scheduled for after press deadline. The question was unanimously approved on first reading several weeks ago.

The issue is expected to be approved and appear on the ballot, which will be mailed Aug. 17-24, and must be returned by 7 p.m. Sept. 8


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