GMF Voters Say Yes to Eliminating Local Elections

Residents Rally Behind Town’s Cost-Slicing Plans; Elect Two New Trustees

Rick Langenberg

Green Mountain Falls residents have opted for bucking tradition, and for paying the rising costs for hosting regular town elections.

With only a few dissenters, voters in the small Ute Pass town heavily supported a city-sponsored plan on April 2 to change the timing of their regular elections from April until November. And with this change, these elections will now be coordinated by clerk officials in El Paso and Teller counties.

In essence, town officials are retreating from the election business altogether, and will no longer be hosting town elections. This will end the traditional local spring election, a mainstay of GMF for years, and one that put the town in alignment with the municipal election timetable for such cities as Woodland Park, Monument and even  Colorado Springs.

Instead, GMF will now align itself on election day with such statutory towns as Cripple Creek and Victor.

The main downside is that the town will lose the local flavor of municipal elections, as future city votes will be lumped in with the coordinated ballots of El Paso and Teller counties in November. On the upside, voter participation could increase, according to GMF Clerk and Treasurer Boy Ayad.

The new change, though, won’t occur overnight, and would mainly impact the next election, slated for 2026.

The main advantage of the approved change deals with dollars and cents. The costs for hosting these votes were increasing dramatically. GMF will save more than $10,000, per election, according to preliminary figures.

During last week’s municipal election, GMF voters heavily supported the plan, with 116 “yea” tallies, based on the preliminary unofficial count, representing the vast majority of citizens who participated in the April 2 election.

Voters Pick New Trustees

In other election news, based on unofficial counts, GMF voters have picked two new trustees. Candidates John Bell and Don Walker were the clear winners in the competitive trustee showdown.  Bell got 94 tallies and Walker received 81 voters, putting them in the winner’s circle. This gave them enough tallies to capture two available seats, as the two top trustee finishers edged past candidates Brandy Moralez and Ann Esch who received 55 and 53 votes respectively.

The preliminary winners will join trustees Sunde King and Sean Ives and Mayor Todd Dixon at the council table. Stepping down form office are Katharine Guthrie and Nick Donzello.

This is the first time in recent memory a competitive trustee race has occurred.  All four of the trustee candidates have strong name recognition are involved with local advisory committees, or with town projects.

Compared to the races in Woodland Park, the contest was quite friendly, with most candidates agreeing on key issues. But at the same time, it was competitive with the slew of contenders trying to stress their community ties and professional background. Also, the town is not lacking in signature issues, surrounding such topics as tourism development, more year-round events and commerce, lake and park enhancements, fiscal accountability, road maintenance and infrastructure services.

Not surprisingly, Mayor Todd Dixon got the  ion’s share of the April 2 votes, with 124 tallies. Of all the candidates, Dixon didn’t have any competition. He will serve for another two-year term, while the newly-elected trustees will have four-year terms.

The results of the GMF vote do not become official until April 12, according to city officials.  The ballot signatures still have to be examined and ballots have to be tallied from overseas. Voter turnout was fairly similar to the most recent municipal election, according to Ayad.

The new slate of elected leaders will be sworn into office in early May.