Five Candidates For Office Bolting From the Gates In Upcoming Municipal Vote
So much for apathy in this small and quaint Ute Pass town, with a slew of community volunteers stepping up to the election plate like never before.
In a big change from past years, the town of Green Mountain Falls will host one of its more competitive town votes in early April with five contenders for mayor and elected trustees. Moreover, the bulk of these candidates are newcomers to the local political arena.
Two current leaders, meanwhile, are stepping down.
In addition, voters may be casting a tally on a possible ballot issue, asking residents if they want to change the future timing of their regular election to coincide with the coordinated timetable of El Paso County to drastically trim costs. This latter plan, if it moves forward, would result in elections occurring in November, instead of April. However, this possible change would not impact the timing of the forthcoming April 2 vote.
These are some of the highlights of the preliminary election countdown, according to GMF Town Clerk and Treasurer Bo Ayad. GMF has become the first town in the area to announce its pool of candidates and to tally petition signatures for the springtime municipal vote. This is when a number of municipalities in the region hold elections, including Woodland Park.
“We have had a lot of interest in this election. That is a really good thing,” said Ayad, who has held the clerk/treasurer reins for a little more than a year. He said all of the candidates for office have been actively involved in the community, with the contenders easily garnering sufficient signatures to qualify for the April ballot.
Jan. 29 was the absolute deadline for withdrawals and write-in bids, and when the candidate list become official, according to Ayad.
Candidate Interest Surpasses Early Expectations
Unless a write-in candidacy surfaces, one fact remains certain: Todd Dixon will retain his seat as mayor. The incumbent, who holds regular hours at town hall and has played an active role in legislative issues at the local and state level, emerged as the only candidate to submit a mayoral petition.
But for the trustee positions, the ballot will feature four candidates for two spots. More notably, this impressive number of candidates has developed despite the exit of two well-known incumbents, Katharine Guthrie and Nick Donzello. Their absence could change the local political landscape. Guthrie has been the main veteran voice on the council, while Donzello has gained a niche for its staunch commentary on a variety of issues.
But when it comes to new contenders, residents Brandy Moralez, John Bell, Ann Esch and Donald Walker are bolting from the gates. They will compete for two available spots.
All four of the trustee candidates have fairly good name recognition and have been involved with various advisory committees, such as parks, trails and recreation, fire mitigation and planning. “They are all heavily invested in the community,” said Ayad.
In addition, several of these candidates are quite active on local social media outlets.
The big local interest in the 2024 election marks quite a turnaround from past years, when GMF struggled to fill all of its available elected seats. In fact, the town leaders opted to decrease its number of elected seats from seven to five, under a previous administration.
But in recent months, much more interest has grown regarding local issues, with proposed enhancements developing at the lake and with local trails and at the municipal pool, not to mention art displays and special events. At the same time, it’s not all fun and games in GMF with concerns mounting over fire mitigation and roads conditions.
Still, money and the lack of funds for projects and operating services, may just emerge as the toughest challenge facing town leaders.
The winner of the elected positions will join trustees Sean Ives and Sunde King on the board. Their seats aren’t up for grabs during the spring vote.
A Time Change for Future Elections
Although it’s not certain yet, Ayad stated that town voters in April may decide on a proposal to change the timing of future GMF elections so they would become part of a coordinated ballot with El Paso County. If this change is approved by the majority of voters, elections would occur in November rather than April.
Ayad stated that the big pluses with this plan involve saving election expenses, which now total close to $15,000 per election. If GMF partners with El Paso County, he said the costs could be reduced to several hundred dollars. In addition, he sees more voter participation as an added value, since more people do vote during November elections, as they include more races and issues.
On the downside, GMF elections would become part of a larger ballot, with some critics contending that they could lose their local appeal and impact. However, most statutory cities do now feature November coordinated elections. If this plan progresses, GMF would fall under the similar guidelines adopted by the cities of Cripple Creek and Victor, which partner with Teller County.
This idea of partnering with El Paso County for future elections was mulled in the past, but this concept never really moved forward. The plan will not impact the timing of this year’s April 2 vote, stressed Ayad.