Sheek: Get informed! 2018 is the year of the mid-term elections

Thursday, March 15, 2018 3:01 PM
Karen Sheek

It’s the mid-term elections. The cycle begins with city/town elections on April 3, primaries in June, and the general election in November with candidates for county commission, state and federal offices.

Cortez has five vacancies on City Council with eight candidates running; four vacancies on the Mancos town board with five candidates; four trustee seats in Dolores with eleven candidates plus two candidates running for mayor.

I must say that it is very encouraging to see so much interest at the local level, especially when one considers that it is at the local level that one can have the most impact on one’s quality of life.

The election calendar for city elections clearly lays out the process for running for City Council, from the first day nomination petitions may be circulated to the deadline for submitting ballots. Elections require careful coordination, and that is the responsibility of city clerks: Linda Smith in Cortez, Lana Hancock in Dolores and Heather Alvarez in Mancos.

The three municipal clerks and county clerk Kim Percell work together sharing election judges, equipment, printing of ballots and expertise to efficiently execute the elections and save staff time and taxpayer dollars. It’s a wonderful and satisfying collaboration that shows what happens when local governments work together. Bravo ladies!

Ballots for all three municipal elections were mailed March 12. If you don’t have yours by March 19, contact your city clerk. Linda can be reached at 564-4008; Lana at 882-7720; and Heather at 533-7725. Ballots must be returned to your respective city/town hall by 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, April 3. Deliver it personally if it hasn’t been mailed by the Wednesday before. Cortez ballots may be dropped off anytime in the utility bill drop box on the west side of City Hall at 123 Roger Smith Avenue.

Casting your vote is important; being informed is equally important. The individuals who represent you will be making important decisions on your behalf so voters will want to choose wisely. The Journal has provided excellent coverage of the candidates from all three communities. The League of Women Voters have also scheduled “Meet the Candidate” nights. The Cortez event was held at City Hall on March 15. You can view the recording via the live stream archive on the city website at The Dolores and Mancos forums will be held tonight, Friday, March 16 at their community centers at 6:30 and 7 p.m., respectively.

In addition to filling five council seats, voters in Cortez will also vote on Ballot Issue 2A, a tax measure asking citizens to extend and reduce the current sales tax that generates income for the recreation center. If passed, the current tax of 0.55 percent will be reduced to 0.35 percent – 3½ cents on every $10.00 spent – beginning January 1, 2022. Partial retention of this tax is critical because center fees cover about half of the revenue needed for day-to-day operations, maintenance and capital improvements. Every cent of the collected tax will become part of the center’s budget. This spring a new $1.2M HVAC system will be installed, paid for with funds generated over the years through the current tax.

A city goal is to keep the recreation center fees affordable for all citizens. Friends of Recreation for a Healthy Community raise funds to provide scholarships for citizens who otherwise would not have access. In an effort to inform, it’s important that taxpayers understand that without this tax, the city cannot continue to operate the center at the current level. While the city is not in the business of making a profit, it must cover expenses, and would need to engage the community in a conversation to find alternatives that would work with a reduced budget.

On any given day, hundreds of local, county and out-of-town visitors can be found at the recreation center, using the fitness equipment, walking, swimming or using the resistance pool, or engaging in a game of pool, racquetball or basketball. It’s a great place to meet friends, get fit, or just have fun.

Vote “YES” to reduce and retain a 0.35 percent sales tax supporting the recreation center. It’s a good investment in our community!

Karen Sheek is the mayor of Cortez, a position elected by Cortez City Council members. Reach her at or during her office hours from 12:30 - 1:30 p.m. the second and fourth Tuesday of the month.