by Rick Langenberg:
Woodland Park won’t have any contested election races this spring, with the candidate slate filled by mostly incumbents.
And in Green Mountain Falls, the town still has a heavily competitive vote, but the potential trustee lineup is a little leaner, with several candidates dropping out of the contest.
That’s the latest development for municipal elections held in both towns on April 1 and April 8.
In Woodland Park, a possible showdown between Dave Turley and Councilman Gary Brovetto never materialized. According to the city clerk’s office, Turley, elected to the post two years ago, who also served as a councilman, is the only contender for this position. He will run unopposed. Brovetto, a big proponent of the town’s push for a Main Street and Creative Arts District, had pulled a petition for mayor, but decided not to pursue this option, according to city officials.
In addition, three city council candidates also won’t face any opposition. These include incumbents Ken Matthews, John Schafer and newcomer Noel Sawyer. Incumbent Eric Smith, who was eligible to run again, opted not to seek re-election. Smith, the current mayor pro tem, is a key player in several big housing and development projects.
The city may have opted to cancel its election, except voters still have to decide the fate of a ballot issue that would give local officials more flexibility on how to spend its annual pot of lodging tax funds, estimated at close to $100,000 a year. If the proposed measure passes, city officials could spend the money on certain marketing and economic development initiatives. Currently, this money can only be used for downtown beautification.
A candidates’ forum will be held on Wednesday March 19 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the city council chambers. It is being run by the Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce. The April 8 election, as similar to past practices, will consist of a mail-in ballot.
In Green Mountain Falls, the town is featuring one of the more heated mayoral contests in recent history on April 1 during a polling place vote at town hall. The contest also represents the first time two women candidates have squared off for the head leadership spot. Most of the drama centers on the showdown between Mayor Lorrie Worthey and Mayor Pro Tem Jane Newberry. The two have clashed on a variety of issues, including law enforcement, the hiring of a town manager, social media and fiscal concerns. Recently, they have even argued on the prospects of having a mayoral debate.
The battle for three trustee seats is also quite heated, but the lineup is much smaller, compared to two weeks ago. According to city officials, several candidates have dropped out of the race. As a result, the only active contenders for three seats are incumbent Margaret Peterson and challengers Chris Quinn, David Cook and Michael Butts. Both Butts and Cook tried to vie for a council seat about a year ago, following a trustee resignation. This seat was then filled by Peterson, a long-time resident (see related letter to the editor) during an appointment process.
However, Michael Brown, one of the candidates who recently threw in the towel for the April 1 election, has indicated a possible interest in running during a forthcoming recall vote. On May 20, the town will have another election. The details for this vote are still a little sketchy. But residents may be casting tallies on recall petitions, filed against current trustees Howard Price and Ralph LoCascio.
Also, voters will decide the fate of a referendum, repealing a law that establishes the position of town manager.
These petition efforts have obtained enough signatures to force a vote. However, according to the Concerned Citizens of Green Mountain Falls, the group pushing the petitions, there is still an opportunity for the targeted council members to step down or for the town to rescind its previous vote, authorizing a new town manager.
A candidates’ forum will be held on March 20 at town hall from 6 to 8 p.m. It will be moderated by Debbie Miller, president of the Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce.
In addition, TMJ will have an extensive elections issue on March 25, outlining the various municipal races facing the voters in Green Mountain Falls and Woodland Park. This election special will also appear on the TMJ website at www.mountainjackpot.com.