Green Mountain Falls Election Slate Finalized

Town Trustees to Consider Joining Ballot Forces with El Paso County

Rick Langenberg

It’s now official.

The town of Green Mountain Falls has finalized its ballot candidate slate for the spring election, with five contenders running for office. That marks a definite plus in candidate interest, compared to previous elections.

According to Town Clerk and Treasurer Bo Ayad, no changes have occurred in the preliminary candidate slate. Sept. 29 was the absolute deadline for withdrawals and write-in bids. In fact, a recent drawing was held at town hall to determine the order of names appearing on the upcoming ballot.

Under the final ballot slate, Mayor Todd Dixon will retain his seat as the head elected leader for another two-year term. Also, the stage is set for four candidates – Brandy Moralez, John Bell, Ann Esch and Donald Walker – to compete for two seats. The winners will join Trustees Sunde King and Sean Ives at the council table. All of the trustee contenders have strong name recognition and have been involved in a variety of advisory committees, such as fire mitigation, trails, parks and recreation and planning.

A future candidates forum, allowing the contenders to outline their views on key issues, may occur closer to the April 2 election, noted Ayad.

The remaining question deals with a possible ballot issue for the forthcoming election. Depending on action taken at today’s (Feb. 6) trustees meeting, local voters will decide on a plan to approve changing the time of the town’s regularly scheduled municipal election in April to coincide with the coordinated ballot system, orchestrated and coordinated by El Paso County. This would move the municipal election time from the first Tuesday in April to that of November.

This would allow GMF to get out of the election business altogether and basically join forces with El Paso County. The big advantage of this plan comes down to dollars and cents and a chance to have better participation, according to Ayad. He stated that municipal elections now cost close to $15,000. Under the new proposal, which requires voter approval, this cost would be reduced to several hundred dollars.

GMF election races and specific ballot proposals would become part of a larger ballot, organized by El Paso County officials. Also, voter participation could increase, as many local residents associate November with the regular time for elections. This is when most contested state and national races are determined, such as the upcoming presidential election.

The downside of this plan, according to critics, is that GMF elections may lose their local appeal and significance by being lumped into a larger ballot, encompassing a variety of races and issues from the region. This type of system, though, is used by other statutory cities, such as Cripple Creek and Victor. These towns have partnered with Teller County, in the handling of their elections, and do have regular elections in November.

The plan was mulled in the past in GMF, but it never moved forward.

The town clerk stressed that nothing would change regarding the timing of the upcoming election, set for April 2. He said absentee ballots should be mailed out around Feb. 19. The bulk of the ballots will be sent out in mid-March, according to the town clerk.

Still unclear is when the new election change would go into effect, if approved.

Ayad said he has not heard any negative comments regarding the plan. The ballot issue, which would require an approved resolution by the trustees, is slated for official action on Feb. 6.

Better Internet Service
In other GMF news, the town is trying to get residents to partake in a survey to help facilitate a push for a grant to grapple with a problem issue at the top of the radar of local concerns: inadequate internet service. This is an issue that emerged as a top priority during the adopting of the most recent master plan.

According to Dixon, “the town is working with a contractor to see if we can obtain funding to put in better internet capability here in town.  To do this, we need to have local residents do a speed test to obtain data to see if we will qualify.  The deadline for doing the speed test is February 9th.  For those of you who live within the city limits of Green Mountain Falls, could you please go to this link: GMF homepage, scroll down and click on the ‘GMF internet speed test’ box?  Once you get to the actual speed test site, it will ask certain questions about your internet service.  It will also ask for a copy of your bill so that the contractor can see what speeds you are supposed to be obtaining.  If you are uncomfortable with uploading a copy of your bill, leave that area blank.”

Funding for better internet infrastructure for small towns and rural areas is part of a growing push, advocated by the federal government.

In previous meetings, Dixon has cited a jackpot of funding for better internet and infrastructure possibilities. The big question mark, though, is how to access these monies.