Election Fever Just Kicking Off in the High Country

Campaigns to start soon for city and county candidates

~ by Rick Langenberg ~


It’s one down and three or four great races to go, so hold onto your seat and get ready to make your bets.    


The municipal and special district election of 2017 in southern Teller may have screeched to a halt, even if a card game determined the final seat. Well, forget about taking any needed political breathers. In fact, election fervor is just beginning in Teller County and the Ute Pass.


2018 could turn into a wild, boisterous and bumpy roller coaster ride, with several key city elections and political contests for a slew of county elected seats. And that doesn’t include a number of key state and national showdowns.


Already, the pre-election process is underway for the municipal election in Woodland Park. 


Woodland Park City Clerk Suzanne Leclercq has scheduled an upcoming informational forum for prospective candidates for the 2018 elections on April 3.  Woodland Park citizens will elect a mayor and three council positions. The mayor’s term is two years and the council members serve four years. The current office holders are all eligible for re-election include Mayor Neil Levy and Councilmembers Ken Matthews, John Schafer and Noel Sawyer.


The winner of these positions will play a major role in determining the political and financial fate of the city. The time for preparing to bolt from the stating gates is approaching.


According to a city press release, citizens of Woodland Park who are interested in running for mayor or city council are invited to a candidate forum scheduled for Monday, December 11, in the city council chambers from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The forum will detail important deadlines and requirements to be included on the ballot.


The city charter requires that candidates be at least 21 years of age, a citizen of the United States for not less than seven years and a resident of the city of Woodland Park for not less than one year immediately preceding the election. The role of city council is described in the city charter Sections 3.1 and 3.2.


With current concerns over the city budget and with all the attention surrounding the new aquatic center and other capital ventures, the April election should generate much interest. In maintaining old traditions, the election will be done through a mail ballot format.  


But Woodland Park isn’t the only local town on the hot political seat.  In Green Mountain Falls, the forthcoming April election will determine a mayor’s position, and three trustee positions. Seats up for grabs include the positions held by Mayor Jane Newberry and trustees Dave Cook, Michael Butts and Christopher Quinn. All of these office-holders are eligible to seek another term.


The town has a barrage of issues of concern, including the management of GMF and whether to proceed with a town managerial form of government.  Recently, the town parted ways with its head town manager/clerk, Verla Bruner, a development that has raised more questions than answers. In addition, concerns have been expressed about ways to improve the roads and do other key infrastructure projects, such as the lake and Gazebo, while dealing with a super tight budget.


The last few elections in GMF have commanded much interest with much competition for elected positions. This marks a big change from previous years, when many seats were left unfilled.


County Political Madness


Voters in Teller County, meanwhile, will select a District 2 County Commissioner, sheriff, assessor, clerk and recorder, coroner, treasurer and surveyor.


Although the official vote is not scheduled until Nov. 2018, the real important tallies occur in late winter/early spring 2018.


Due to the predominance of the Republican Party in Teller County, many of these positions will be determined, or heavily influenced by the caucuses, the assembly and ultimately by the GOP primary in late June.  


Already, much campaigning is underway for many of these spots.  Plus, term limits comes into play big time.  Teller County Commissioner Dave Paul, Assessor Betty Clark-Wine and Treasurer Bob Campbell and Coroner Al Born can’t run again due to term limits. That means new office-holders will occupy these positions. This will represent a vastly new political landscape for the county.  


Campbell has thrown his name into the hat for the District Two County Commissioner Two seat. He faces stern competition from business owner Carl Andersen, who announced his intentions much earlier.


Both Sheriff Jason Mikesell, who was appointed last summer, and Clerk and Recorder Krystal Brown are eligible to run for their respective positions.


In Teller County, the campaigning kicks into high gear at the beginning of  2018, as contenders must prepare for the county caucuses. These are neighborhood gatherings in which delegates are appointed to the county party assemblies, held usually in March. Sometimes straw polls are held for other state and national races during these meetings.


But if county candidates want to display a little political savvy, they will try to lock up favorable delegate position at the caucus stage.


This process has generated much controversy in the past, with proponents calling it grass-roots politics at its best, while opponents accuse the system of the worst example of good ‘ol cronyism.  


The county assembly represents the first official showdown. A party candidate for a particular seat must garner a little more than 30 percent of the delegate tallies in order to gain a spot on the primary ballot.


But other choices are available to Republican and Democratic contenders.


In recent years, more local candidates bypass the caucus and assembly process and petition their way onto the ballot. Also, some opt for running as an unaffiliated candidate.


Besides county races, Teller Republican and Democrats will play a role in determining a new Colorado governor, as John Hickenlooper can’t run again due to term limits.  Already, an extremely crowded field from both parties has entered the race. And a hefty Republican competition is ongoing for District 5 U.S. House of Representatives seat, held by Doug Lamborn. He faces competition from Darryl Glenn and Owen Hill.


In any case, even with the ending one major municipal election, campaign fever is alive and well in Teller County.