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Joyce Rankin wins state Board of Education race

Incumbent Joyce Rankin, a Republican from Carbondale, has won her bid for reelection over challenger Mayling Simpson, a Democrat from Steamboat Springs, in the 3rd Congressional District race for the Colorado State Board of Education.

Rankin had captured 54.6% of the vote, while Simpson earned 45.3% in the latest tallies reported to the Colorado Secretary of State Wednesday morning.

Rankin had the edge in her home county of Garfield, 52.6% (14,755 votes) to 47.4% (13,280) for Simpson.

Simpson offered a concession statement Tuesday night.

“It was an honor and a privilege to run for the state board of education for CD3,” she said. “It was a team effort, and we did really well.”

At the Routt County Democrats virtual watch party, Simpson expressed gratitude for everyone who supported her.

“To say it was heartwarming is an understatement,” Simpson said. “It made my heart swell to see how supportive people were. I’m delighted with how well I did.”

Rankin said Tuesday night that she would wait until the results were further along to comment, and that she was more focused on her husband’s much closer race in state Senate District 8.

Rankin’s husband, Bob Rankin, is running for reelection for the Colorado State Senate in District 8 and currently has a slight lead over his Democrat opponent Karl Hanlon.

Joyce Rankin also commended Simpson for her hard work and for a civil campaign.

The 3rd Congressional District is located in the western and southern region of the state, and includes Alamosa, Archuleta, Conejos, Costilla, Custer, Delta, Dolores, Garfield, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Huerfano, Jackson, La Plata, Lake, Mesa, Mineral, Moffat, Montezuma, Montrose, Ouray, Pitkin, Pueblo, Rio Blanco, Rio Grande, Routt, Saguache, San Juan, and San Miguel counties. It also includes a portion of Eagle County.

Rankin, 73, has held the seat since being appointed in August 2015 and is seeking a second term. Board members serve six-year terms.

Rankin taught elementary and middle school and served as an elementary principal. She has a master’s degree in elementary education with an administrative credential.

Simpson, 74, was elected to the Steamboat Springs Board of Education in 2017. She retired in 2019 when her husband accepted a position at the Virginia Military Institute.

Simpson has a doctorate in anthropology and also worked as a teacher at the high school and college level.

She spent most of her 40-year career abroad, living in eight different countries and working in public health and humanitarian assistance.

Simpson served as an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and was senior environmental health advisor at the World Health Organization.

Her priority as a candidate for the state board was to be a voice for rural districts, as well as improving funding for schools and teacher salaries, raising graduation rates and expanding vocational training. She was also focused on ensuring the voices of teachers were heard at the state level.

Rankin’s priorities have focused on reading and improving reading instruction, specifically work being done through the READ — Reading to Ensure Academic Development — Act.

The READ Act requires benchmark testing of students in preschool through third grade to assess literacy skills, focused on the goal that all students will be reading by third grade.

Rankin also spoke about the opportunity the pandemic brought in terms of improving online education.

While a school district’s decisions are primarily made at a local level, the state board has been providing support for schools during the pandemic.

The board also holds schools accountable for poor performance and handles other administrative functions, including appointing the commissioner of education.

One of the primary divisions between the two candidates was in allowing taxpayer dollars to fund private schools through a voucher system. Simpson took a strong position against pulling away any funding from public schools to give to private schools.

Rankin supports the voucher system and allowing private education companies to step in to manage school districts that are failing.

These results are preliminary and not official.

This story will be updated.

UPDATE: Mike Samson solidifies win over Leslie Robinson in Garfield County Commission race

With the fourth unofficial election results now in, District 3 Garfield County Commissioner Mike Samson has solidified his win against Democratic challenger Leslie Robinson.

Samson’s 14,478 votes over Robinson’s 13,656 hoisted the Republican candidate to an unsurpassable 2.92% lead.

With the win, Samson will serve his fourth term on the county commission.

“I feel really good about the issues that I brought up,” Robinson told the Post Independent just before noon Wednesday. “I very much enjoyed working with Beatriz (Soto) as my campaign partner and we’re both community activists, so we’re not going to be going anywhere.”

Looking back at her campaign trail, Robinson said she was shocked to see how much racism there still is in western Garfield County.

“We got feedback from business owners that their children in the high school are ridiculed and bullied,” she said. There’s a problem with the school system with a racial imbalance… It has something to do with students amplifying their parents’ beliefs.”

Despite the impending loss, Robinson said she’ll continue to fight for Garfield County residents.

After several attempts, the Citizen Telegram was unable to reach Samson for comment.


Get your 2020 election results here for Garfield County and Colorado

Perry Will wins Colorado House District 57 seat against Democratic challenger Colin Wilhelm

Colorado House District 57 representative Perry Will was reelected this week by double-digits over Democratic challenger Colin Wilhelm.

Will cemented his win with 11.66% of the vote. He will now serve his first full term in the legislature, after being appointed to the seat in 2019.

Wilhelm told the Post Independent that he was proud of this year’s campaign for bringing awareness to mental healthcare.

“I think we ran a very good campaign,” he said. “We left everything out on the field.”

So far during his short time as a representative of Garfield, Moffat and Rio Blanco counties, Will has focused his attention primarily on reducing health care costs for Western Slope residents. For example, over the past year he supported legislation that would make it easier for people to enroll in insurance. In addition, he’s also supported a bill that would cover collateral cancer screenings at a younger age.

Still in the infancy of his political career, Will served as a for the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife for 43 years before his congressional appointment in 2019. The New Castle Republican was appointed following Bob Rankin’s selection to fill the Senate District 8 seat in 2019.

More recently, Will has been a strong proponent of localizing government in the fight against COVID-19. 

Will was unavailable for comment.


Glenwood, Carbondale fire district ballot issues heading toward passage

Three local fire district issues were heading toward passage in unofficial results as of 9:29 p.m. Tuesday, though with the apparent repeal of the Gallagher Amendment statewide they become moot.

Glenwood Springs 2A is for emergency medical services within city limits, while 6A is for the Glenwood Springs Rural Fire Protection District, outside of city limits. Issue 7B is for the Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District.

Carbondale fire chief Rob Goodwin was happy with the apparent passage of 7B, which was passing 4,500-1,556, showing that residents would have supported the fire district even under Gallagher restrictions.

“We’re very happy with that. It looks like it’s going to pass by a great margin. We’re grateful for the support from people in our district. We’ll be able to have a stable funding source,” he said.

Glenwood Springs Mayor Jonathan Godes acknowledged that the issues will not be necessary with the repeal of Gallagher but was pleased that voters supported fire and emergency services.

“I’m grateful to the voters, and I’m grateful to [Glenwood fire chief] Gary [Tillotson],” he said.

The three issues were about de-Gallagherizing and had similar ballot language. All were designed to give residents the chance to establish a minimum level of funding for fire and emergency services.

When Glenwood’s City Council voted to put its EMS issue on the ballot, city attorney Karl Hanlon gave an overview of the effect the Gallagher Amendment has on property tax. 

Revenues from residential properties cannot exceed 45% of the total collected revenues, leaving the remaining 55% to come from non-residential property. 

The nonresidential rate is fixed at 29% of assessed value, meaning that as residential property values rise, the residential assessment rate must drop to accommodate the 45/55 split required by Gallagher. It is currently about 7%, Hanlon said.

This becomes a problem locally because the ratio is calculated statewide. When home values increase more rapidly in the Front Range, the residential assessment rate drops statewide. When local property values increase less than the state average, less property tax revenues are collected locally, according to a Colorado Sun article.

The ballot issues would de-Gallagherize the communities’ mill levies for fire and emergency services, meaning the revenue stream can be maintained at current levels despite falling tax revenues otherwise caused by the Gallagher Amendment. 

“It guarantees that minimum revenue,” Hanlon said. Collections will not go below the amount they are currently, but they will rise if the residential assessment rate rises, he said. 

The Gallagher Amendment itself is on the ballot. If Amendment B passes and repeals Gallagher, it would for the most part make these local issues unnecessary. Early results show the Gallagher Amendment heading for repeal 57.6% to 42.4%.

“If the Gallagher Amendment is repealed it still leaves open the possibility that the Legislature could lower the residential assessment rate resulting in lowered revenues that 2A and 6A are designed to stabilize.  More than likely that won’t occur, which effectively renders them moot,” Hanlon said Tuesday in an email.