In the unofficial results of the April 7 municipal election, Dolores voters approved retail marijuana sales in town and voted against the use of off-road vehicles on town streets.
Also, Chad Wheelus was elected to a second term as Dolores mayor with 65.7% of the vote. Wheelus received 207 votes to challenger Jerry Whited’s 108 votes – 34.8%.
The winning candidates for the three positions on the Dolores Town Board are: John Andy Lewis, 203 votes (60%); Sheila Wheeler, 175 votes (52%); and Val Truelsen, 170 votes, (50.5%).
The candidates who lost were Robert “Cody” Folsom, 162 votes (48.4%); and Kirk Swope, 145 votes (43%).
Voters were asked six “yes” or “no” retail marijuana questions, including two retail marijuana tax questions.
The Medical and Retail Marijuana Stores question passed, with 197 (60.4%) voting yes, and 129 (39.5%) voting no.The Medical and Retail Marijuana Product Manufacturing Facilities question passed, with 186 (56%) voting yes, and 146 (44%) voting no.The Medical and Retail Marijuana Testing Manufacturing Facilities question passed, with 188 (57.8%) voting yes, and 137 (42.%) voting no.The Medical and Retail Marijuana Cultivation Facilities question passed with 171 (52%) voting yes, and 158 (48%) voting no.The two retail marijuana tax questions also were approved.
The question on whether each marijuana sale should be subject to an occupation tax (transaction fee) of no more than $5 passed, with 205 (61.5%) voting yes, and 128 (38.4%) voting no.The question on whether there should be a 5% excise tax on the first sale of unprocessed cultivated retail marijuana to a retail store passed, with 208 (64%) voting yes, and 116 (35.8%) voting no.Dolores town manager Ken Charles said the next step for the town board is to develop the specific regulations, licensing and policies for retail marijuana businesses in town. Other issues to be discussed are locations for shops and cultivation, and if there should be a limit on the number of retail marijuana operations. The process will involve public hearings, and adhere with state standards.
A preliminary goal is to establish the retail marijuana regulations for Dolores by early next year, Charles said.
OHV use in town Voters rejected a measure to allow off-highway vehicles on designated public streets in Dolores, with 241 (72%) voting against allowing them, and 92 (27.6%) were in favor of allowing them.
A total of 336 ballots were returned out of 718 sent out, representing 47% voter turnout.
Mayor reelected, new candidates voted inWheelus will serve a second two-year mayor term. He said that as full-time teacher at Southwest Open School, he has acquired a skill set for public service that includes interpersonal communication, organization and efficiency.
His main motivations for seeking reelection as mayor “are to provide some continuity for the town after a few years of staff turnover, and to help steward in a number of projects the town has on the horizon. The planning phase for the new playground is over, the project will be built, and I will be there to support.”
Wheelus said one of the main tasks of the board will be to navigate the regulatory process depending on how voters decide on the ballot questions of allowing retail marijuana and OHVs in town.
“During my term, I feel this board has been committed to transparency, and that will continue under my watch,” Wheelus added. “I also feel that finding a variety of efficient ways for the public to give input is crucial. This will include specific times for participation at board meetings, public forums around important issues and better online information access and dissemination.”
John Andy LewisLewis is a restaurant and brewery manager at the Dolores River Brewery.
He has a degree in human health science including studies in risk management. His education background “gives me helpful tools when informing and communicating with local citizens on important issues.”
On economic development, Lewis said more recreation opportunities will help attract more visitors.
Along with the new playground, he would like to see the walking trails expanded, a local tennis court, a public soccer field with goals and painted lines and improved basketball courts.
Lewis said as a public servant, he will be open-minded and understanding. “I like to pool multiple opinions and facts before making a stance on issues,” he said.
WheelerWheeler is an educator in the health and personal development fields, and regularly attends Dolores Town Board meetings.
She has served on a school board and community events board while living South Africa.
Wheeler comes from a family of public servants and sought a Town Board position to support her community.
Better advertisement of town meetings and events will help residents stay more informed and involved, she said, such as a more visible marquee of events and meetings.
Her style of governance is “using critical thinking while staying fair.”
On the economy, she promotes “smart growth” and will focus on using local assets to build the economy while supporting a clean and healthy environment.
“We want to keep the livability and small town character of our town,” she said.
TruelsenTruelsen is the owner of the Ponderosa Restaurant and a local saw mill.
He wants to continue projects in the pipeline, including the new playground at Joe Rowell Park, and upgrades to the town’s water and sewer systems.
He supported improved communication to residents, such as posting meetings and events online, and holding forums on big topics.
“More communication is also needed between the board and local businesses,” he said.
Truelsen wants more promotion for fishing at McPhee Reservoir at the river, and for the mountain bike trails at Boggy Draw, including the new Overlook Trail with views of McPhee.
“We’re not getting equal billing; Phil’s World in Cortez seems to get all the publicity. It’s time Boggy Draw gets more attention,” he said. “We offer great beginner and intermediate trails for families and kids. Our new snow biking trails also need publicity.”
OHV and marijuanaThe issues of whether to allow OHV use in town and retail marijuana shops has been divisive for Dolores residents.
Proponents said OHVs would help local business, attract tourism and improve town access to OHV routes in the San Juan National Forest.
Opponents were concerned about the noise, dust and increased OHV traffic threatens the peaceful character of Dolores, a densely inhabited community in a river valley where noise is an issue.
Dolores used to have two medical marijuana shops. But after they closed, the town put a moratorium on retail pot stores and commercial grow sites to study the issue.
Proponents said that retail marijuana sales would improve sales tax revenues for the town, give medicinal users improved access, and is less problematic than alcohol for some.
Detractors said allowing retail marijuana could increase demand for law enforcement and contribute to more crime. Other concerns are intoxicated users in public, underage consumption, and the potential it could be a gateway to harder drugs.
Dolores has had a moratorium on retail pot sales since 2014.