It’s going to take at least a week to call a winner in the race for La Plata County commissioner in District 2, which has pit two longtime locals, Marsha Porter-Norton and Jack Turner, against each other.
An update at around 9:45 p.m. showed Porter-Norton with 16,556 votes and Turner with 16,442, a difference of 114 votes.
La Plata County Clerk & Recorder Tiffany Parker said because the race is so close, no winner will be called until after the “curing process” in which ballots with wrong signatures or IDs can be fixed. There appears to be some overseas ballots that can be counted, too.
County Commissioner - District 2
Marsha Porter-Norton vs. Jack Turner
Parker said there are about 270 outstanding votes that meet this criteria, which could sway the election that has Porter-Norton ahead by 114 votes. The curing process won’t be complete until Nov. 12, Parker said.
As it stands, the margin that Porter-Norton is ahead does not trigger a recount. That could change, however, if the outstanding ballots further reduce the margin of votes between the two candidates, Parker said.
“I’m really proud of my campaign,” Porter-Norton said late Tuesday. “Jack is a formidable candidate.”
When contacted late Tuesday, Turner said he is happy where his campaign sits.
“We’re in a neck-and-neck race right now,” he said. “I’m game for fighting our way across the finish line. I’m not ready to lie down yet.”
In the race for District 2, the winner will replace outgoing Commissioner Gwen Lachelt, who is term-limited.
The two candidates cast themselves as longtime La Plata County locals with deep roots who could bridge the gap between residents in more urban-like areas around Durango and people in rural parts of the county.
Porter-Norton, a Democrat, moved to Durango in 1994, and grew up on a farm near Cortez as a fourth-generation resident. For years, she has worked in various nonprofits and as a facilitator on contentious issues such as securing protections for Hermosa Creek.
Turner, running as an unaffiliated candidate, is a fifth-generation La Plata County resident. He has worked as vice president of marketing and sales at Purgatory Resort, and most recently, in film and television scouting and management.
Throughout the election, both candidates expressed the need to make La Plata County more business friendly, and advocated the county take steps to streamline development, especially for affordable housing.
Both candidates sunk heavy money into their campaigns. For the election, records show Porter-Norton raised about $70,400 and spent $65,900, and Turner raised about $44,330 and took a $2,500 loan, and he spent $46,000.
Porter-Norton was the first to launch her campaign in February 2019, and ever since, held community meetings throughout La Plata County to understand the issues in a county the size of Delaware.
Then, in October 2019, Durango native Jack Turner threw his hat in the ring. A former Democrat, Turner chose to run unaffiliated, which he said would better represent both right- and left-leaning residents.
For the most part, Porter-Norton and Turner ran a congenial campaign, though questions have arisen about whether Turner is a Republican and running unaffiliated to pick up more votes. For his part, Turner rejects the notion that he is a Republican or a Trump supporter.
Turner, if elected, would become the first unaffiliated candidate to ever win a seat on the La Plata County Board of County Commissioners.