Cortez voters will have eight City Council candidates to choose from in this year’s municipal election.
Council members Orly Lucero and Jill Carlson have announced they plan to run for their second terms this year. They will be joined by Michael Lavey, Lance McDaniel, Sue Betts, Geof Byerly, Gary Noyes and Jonathan Walker in the race for five council seats. On Tuesday, their places on the ballot were chosen in a random drawing that put Walker at the top.
The last municipal election, held in 2016, featured six candidates who ran for four positions on the council. Carlson was elected for a two-year term, which expires this year. Lucero was elected in 2014 to a four-year term. The length of each term is determined by the number of votes the candidate receives.
Bob Archibeque and Shawna McLaughlin will both complete their second terms this year, and they are not eligible to run again. The death of councilman Tim Miller in December left a fifth open seat on the council.
During Tuesday’s drawing, Municipal Judge Jim Shaner picked the candidates’ names out of a hat held by City Clerk Linda Smith. The results determined the candidates’ names will appear on the ballot in the following order: Walker, Noyes, Lucero, Lavey, Carlson, McDaniel, Betts and Byerly.
A few of the candidates attended the drawing, and City Manager Shane Hale took the opportunity to advise them to learn as much as possible about city government before the election. He said Cortez residents wouldn’t want council members ignorant of city policy any more than he would want an unskilled barber cutting his hair.
“We have full-time employees, probably around 165 to 170 people; we provide police service, regional dispatch, we treat people’s water, we run an airport,” he said. “It’s at least as complex as cutting hair.”
He said winning candidates will be asked to attend a new council member orientation after they are sworn in on April 24. In the meantime, he encouraged them to attend meetings and workshops to learn more about how the council operates.
The Montezuma County League of Women Voters has scheduled a candidate question-and-answer forum for 7 p.m. on March 15. Smith said the forum will be open to the public and will be streamed live on the city’s website.
The municipal election will be held by mail-in ballot on April 3. In addition to the City Council candidates, Cortez residents will be asked to vote on a potential extension and reduction of the sales tax that funds the Cortez Recreation Center.
Each City Council candidate has been asked to answer a series of questions on their plans for the council. Their answers will appear in upcoming issues of The Journal.