A roundup of local races and an election night conversation with La Plata County Clerk & Recorder Tiffany Lee
Online story by Mark Duggan
Audio story by Sarah Flower
Election years between presidential races and mid-terms don't always offer the big drama of, well, 2020. But this year, highly-contested school board races are getting a lot of attention, nationally and in the Four Corners. Open seats were up for grabs on school boards in Durango, Bayfield, Ignacio, Cortez, and Dolores.
Voters also weighed in on three statewide ballot measures and local issues in Mancos and a metropolitan district in Archuleta County.
Editor's note: All results are unofficial and subject to change.
Local Ballot Measures
Mancos voters said yes to Ballot Issue 6A, which increases property taxes to raise revenue for the fire protection district. Money raised through an increased mill levy will pay for upgrades to fire trucks and other equipment. Companion measure 6B also passed, letting the district modify the levy to compensate for fluctuations in future revenue.
In Archuleta County, voters in the Timber Ridge Metropolitan District approved a tax increase to pay for maintenance and road improvements.
Durango School District 9-R
Erika Brown, Andrea Parmenter, and Richard Peterson were elected to serve 4-year terms. Voters rejected Donna Gulec, Richard "Dean" Hill, and Kristina Pasley, who ran as a block, and Catherine Mewmaw, who ran in 9-R's District A.
Bayfield School District 10
District 10 includes voters in both La Plata and Archuleta Counties. Voters sent Rebecca Parnell and Matt Turner to office and turned down Jill Shocklee and Kira Charlotte Wennerstrom.
Ignacio School District 11
This district also splits votes between La Plata and Archuleta. A majority of voters elected Leila C. Baker and James (Jim) Bulwan to 4-year terms and said no to Lee Petty. Jay Dee Brunson ran uncontested for a 2-year term.
Dolores School District RE-4A
Casey McClellan and Lori Raney managed narrow victories over Heather Barritt and Jerry Whited.
Montezuma-Cortez School District RE-1
In the only RE-1 race, Ed Rice prevailed over Tammy Hooten. Five other seats were up for election but uncontested, sending Layne Frazier, Stacey Hall, Jeanette G. Hart, Sheri Noyes, and Cody Wells to office. Frazier and Hart ran unopposed after former seat holders Chris Flaherty and Jack Scheunemeyer stepped down in October.
La Plata County Clerk and Recorder Tiffany Lee took some time out from her election night schedule to talk to KSUT's Sarah Flower about local turnout and the use of ballot drop boxes. Hear parts of their interview in the audio version of this story and read the transcript below:
Audio story transcript
Despite a contentious 2020 election and allegations of voter fraud across the nation, Tiffany Lee, La Plata County's Clerk and Recorder is pleased with how this year's election went and says 2021's voter turnout at over 40% is slightly higher than last midterm election in 2019.
The trend is holding well for the scrutiny that we've been under with elections and some voter apathy of people saying I'm just not going to vote. We didn't see that, we're still seeing a consistent turnout, which is good.
Lee says the majority of the voters in La Plata County didn't use the mail system, but rather chose to walk their ballot in.
We had no issues at any of the voter service and polling centers. All six 24-hour drop boxes were utilized heavily. So we had about 75% of the voters that voted a mail ballot used a dropbox versus putting it into the mail stream, which is great.
Southwest Colorado is showing a higher voter turnout rate compared to the rest of the state with Montezuma, Archuleta, and La Plata Counties averaging 40% of their active voters participating in this year's election. Final election results will not be certified until November 29.