Mary Beth McAfee ran a strong race for county commissioner. She had attended numerous commissioner meetings, often adding thoughtful comments about significant issues, and had established, with persistence over the years, a badly needed shelter for the homeless. A Montezuma-Cortez High School graduate with degrees from the University of Colorado, she had been a teacher. And she knows agriculture. But even in a four-way race, she fell about 400 votes, 4 percentage points, behind Republican Jim Candelaria.
Candelaria, a contractor who has served on the sanitation district board and has been a volunteer fireman and grows hemp, won with 40 percent of the vote. If voting mostly followed party lines, and it probably did, Candelaria would have won by a greater margin if Steve Chappell, unaffiliated but trying to follow his Republican father as commissioner (16 percent), and Jesse James Sattley (6 percent), had not been on the ballot.
Congratulations to Jim Candelaria on his first term as commissioner.
Montezuma County’s needs are well known. A stronger economy, with additional jobs especially, to replace as much as possible the declining tax revenue from reduced CO2 production and price. That means boosting small businesses and start-ups, developing niche agricultural crops and generally making Montezuma County an even more appealing place to live and work. Spreading broadband, and paying for it, is a part of that formula.
Sixty percent of registered voters in Montezuma County turned out in this election, matching high levels around the state (Dolores County was even stronger at 69 percent).
Montezuma County voters supported Republican Walker Stapleton for governor by a wide margin (60 percent), and Republicans in other races, but followed state trends on most of the ballot questions. Local Scott Tipton received 59 percent of the vote, about what he did district-wide, for a fifth term in the U.S. House.
State Senator Don Coram and Representative Marc Catlin are both being returned to office with support in the low 60 percents from Montezuma County.
An expanded oil and gas well setback was defeated with 59 percent, as were the two questions devoted to funding state highway construction (69 and 70 percents). County residents strongly favored the establishment of bipartisan commissions to set state and state House political districts, as did the rest of the state, an important underpinning of good government. County voters also joined with the state in voting against Amendment 73, which would have raised taxes on those earning more than $150,000 and on businesses to provide an additional $1.6 billion for the state’s schools. Having the wealthy pay for schools along with a greater tax on business profits would seem to be an easy “yes,” but the tax changes incorporated in 73 without much information might have discouraged support.
Montezuma County was in favor of more certain compensation from “takings” by government actions (59 percent); state-wide voters were not.
As to adding one more possible four-year term to the district attorney’s office, both Montezuma and Dolores county voters said “no” by 64 and 71 percent. Other Montezuma County elected offices can be three terms in length. Is there a fear that a DA can accumulate too much power if he can have a third term, or that is it preferable to have a fresh perspective on the law after eight years? We like the experience a three-term DA can draw from and the predictability it gives the community.
The campaigning was civil and Montezuma County voters participated, very worthwhile accomplishments.