While the dramatic outcome of the presidential race drew the most attention, voters in Colorado and La Plata County had a number of other races to decide. And while there were some disappointments, overall things worked out well.
In the only statewide race besides the presidential contest, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Denver, was re-elected. In a race that was far closer than it should have been, Bennet beat Darryl Glenn by a scant 3.5 percentage points – 90,000 votes out of 2.5 million cast. Bennet is a stellar senator and a different outcome would have been a tremendous loss to Colorado.
In the 3rd Congressional District, Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, handily dispatched a challenge from former state Sen. Gail Schwartz. (Every incumbent member of Congress from Colorado was re-elected.) We liked Schwartz’s energy and priorities, but Tipton is not a bad guy and Gail probably would not have gotten far in the age of Trump.
Barbara McLachlan edged out incumbent J. Paul Brown to take the seat in Colorado’s 59th House District. Brown is a hard worker, friendly and gentlemanly. But McLachlan is a smart and energetic woman who also has the advantage of better reflecting the district’s priorities. She will do well at the Statehouse.
La Plata County voters had the wisdom to return to office Commissioners Gwen Lachelt and Julie Westendorff. Both are intelligent, experienced and thoroughly knowledgeable about county issues. Four more years of their service (all we can have under term limits) will be invaluable to the county – especially given the need to continue their work on the Land Use Code and Comp Plan.
We hope their opponents stay involved as well. Both are clearly bright. Kayla Patterson has wonderful energy, and with a bit more experience could be a real asset to the county. Lyle McKnight too should be commended for diving in. With continued involvement, he could broaden his understanding of the issues and contribute significantly to county governance.
Neither district attorney candidate Christian Champagne nor incumbent Surveyor Steve McCormack faced opposition. (Champagne, who will be replacing the term-limited Todd Risberg, did have a primary race.) Nonetheless, they deserve our thanks for their willingness to serve. The public needs good people in all offices.
Also on the ballot in La Plata County were four measures to raise taxes. Two passed, two were rejected. It looks at this point as if the voters were only willing to raise taxes so much, and that they value schools over infrastructure.
Ballot Issue 1A would have increased property taxes with 2.4 mill levy for maintenance of county roads. This is the same proposal that failed last year, which suggests that perhaps the voters are not concerned about county roads. That would be foolhardy, but this second failure does argue against another try any time soon, particularly in that this time it was thoroughly explained and well marketed.
Ballot Issue 1B was a property tax increase to fund a new airport terminal. It too failed, and by a large enough margin – roughly 2 to 1 – that backers are exploring other options. That is a healthy response.
Ballot Issues 3A and 3B – to raise property taxes for Durango and Bayfield schools – both passed. The Bayfield vote was 52 percent to 48 percent; Durango’s 63 to 37. Both speak well of those communities, especially in that the Bayfield proposal was significantly more money.
Durango and Bayfield care for their kids. And that may have been the high point of this election.