Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Election results start pouring in, voters friendly to gov asks

Posted By , and on Tue, Nov 7, 2017 at 7:32 PM

click to enlarge 2017electionbug_720.jpg
Election Day has rolled around again, and the results are pouring in. (See all the results here.) Let's look first at turnout. Odd year elections tend to attract a lot fewer voters to the polls, despite the relative ease of voting in Colorado, where all registered voters receive a mail ballot, and voters can register and vote any time they want at a voting center of their choice during the lead up the election. Despite that, in 2015, the last off-year election, turn out in El Paso County was a dismal 41.69 percent of registered voters.

This year was worse, with a 38.7percent turnout. Those that chose to vote were generally friendly to the asks of local government. Voters approved stormwater fees in Colorado Springs, allowed El Paso County to keep money over the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights cap, and finally gave Colorado Springs School District 11 the funding it says it desperately needs. Voters also allowed funding for the I-25 gap to be added to projects list for the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority. Manitou Springs voters, meanwhile, were extremely unfriendly to an ask for tax dollars to fund an emergency operations center and firefighter/police training site. Manitou voters also rejected the reelection bid of their mayor, Nicole Nicoletta, decisively choosing challenger Ken Jaray. Let's take a closer look at some of the big issues, with the vast majority of ballots now counted.

click to enlarge City Council President Richard Skorman announces 2A is winning at an election party at Phantom Canyon, crediting Mayor John Suthers for bringing in the win. Skorman told the crowd, "I can't believe we're here tonight and we're celebrating." - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • City Council President Richard Skorman announces 2A is winning at an election party at Phantom Canyon, crediting Mayor John Suthers for bringing in the win. Skorman told the crowd, "I can't believe we're here tonight and we're celebrating."

Issue 2A - Popular Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers asked voters to approve these fees to fund stormwater infrastructure in Colorado Springs, on the heels of the successful passage of 2015's 2C, a sales tax to fund road work. 2A will raise about $17 million a year for stormwater by charging all households $5 per month and commercial properties $30 per acre per month. Properties larger than 5 acres will be assessed a fee based on impermeable surface. The money coming from fees will free up general fund dollars for pressing needs, such as hiring more police officer, Suthers says. Ignoring stormwater wasn't a possibility, regardless of the outcome of the vote: The city has promised Pueblo that it will spend $23 million a year for 20 years on stormwater and its still battling a lawsuit from the EPA alleging that the city violated the Clean Water Act.
Indy endorsement: YES
Vote breakdown: 53.69 percent YES, 46.31 percent NO

click to enlarge Mayor John Suthers spoke to the crowd at the 2A party, saying: "I can't express how proud I am of the citizens of Colorado Springs. This is really a watershed moment for our city. Colorado Springs is taking its place in the great cities of America. Over the last 25 years, our city dug a pretty big hole for itself: a $1 billion infrastructure deficit. We're now building a city that matches our scenery." - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Mayor John Suthers spoke to the crowd at the 2A party, saying: "I can't express how proud I am of the citizens of Colorado Springs. This is really a watershed moment for our city. Colorado Springs is taking its place in the great cities of America. Over the last 25 years, our city dug a pretty big hole for itself: a $1 billion infrastructure deficit. We're now building a city that matches our scenery."

Issue 1A - El Paso County asked voters to keep $14.5 million in revenue collected over the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights limit in 2016 and for permission to use that extra money to reset its base, starting with the 2017 budget. In other words, 1A will let the county collect and keep more tax revenue this year and in all future years. (Confused? Trying reading the explanation in our endorsements.)
The county asked property owners to forgo a refund (about $40 for a typical home worth $250,000) this year, and forgo future refunds or reductions in taxes that might have resulted from TABOR's so-called ratchet-down effect on local budgets.
The county promised that if 1A passed it would spend up to $12 million for a local match for the Interstate 25 gap project and other road projects, with the rest of the 2016 money going to disaster recovery projects and parks, trails and open space.
Indy endorsement: YES
Vote breakdown: 67.2 percent YES, 32.8 percent NO

click to enlarge County Commissioners  Stan VanderWerf (left) and Mark Waller celebrate. VanderWerf  said he is very grateful to the citizens of the county for  approving 1A. "I think it demonstrates a growing trust of government," he said. "And I pledge these funds will be consumed in a way expressed on the ballot." VanderWerf said the county can now repair roads and bridges deferred since the recession. He thinks voters' friendliness to taxes and fees this year is due to an improving economy. - Waller said that he thought everyone put good campaigns together, but also that local government has built trust by doing what it says it will and spending money wisely. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • County Commissioners Stan VanderWerf (left) and Mark Waller celebrate. VanderWerf said he is very grateful to the citizens of the county for approving 1A. "I think it demonstrates a growing trust of government," he said. "And I pledge these funds will be consumed in a way expressed on the ballot." VanderWerf said the county can now repair roads and bridges deferred since the recession. He thinks voters' friendliness to taxes and fees this year is due to an improving economy.Waller said that he thought everyone put good campaigns together, but also that local government has built trust by doing what it says it will and spending money wisely.

• Issue 5B -
 In 2004, voters in Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, El Paso County and the town of Green Mountain Falls voted to establish the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority, funded by a 1 cent sales tax. Of the money collected, 44 percent was a permanent tax, with 35 percent going to road maintenance and 10 percent going to the bus system. The other 55 percent of the tax, which cut off at the end of 2014, was to complete a list of road and bridge projects, with the highest-priority projects coming first.
Voters liked the system enough that in 2012, nearly 80 percent chose to renew the capital portion of the tax through 2024, with a new set of projects. That tax has collected more than was projected, leading to a "surplus." Supporters of 5B asked voters to permit the PPRTA to spend up to $10 million of that "surplus," split over the next two years, to chip in the largest share of a local match to the state government for the widening of the 18-mile stretch of Interstate 25 from Monument to Castle Rock, which could cost up to $600 million.
Indy endorsement: YES
Vote breakdown: 66.1 percent YES, 33.9 percent NO

OK, so let's look at a few other biggies:
click to enlarge Shawn Gullixson (center), who was just elected to the D-11 school board, says he's most excited that 3E passed. The step he's most eager to take now: "Take care of our teachers. As a parent, I want to put the best teachers in front of our students."  Gullixson says the campaign for 2E engaged families and voters and started healthy conversations in D-11. - NAT STEIN
  • Nat Stein
  • Shawn Gullixson (center), who was just elected to the D-11 school board, says he's most excited that 3E passed. The step he's most eager to take now: "Take care of our teachers. As a parent, I want to put the best teachers in front of our students." Gullixson says the campaign for 2E engaged families and voters and started healthy conversations in D-11.

Colorado Springs School District 11 Board of Education: Four of seven seats on the board of the city's largest school district were up for grabs. One seat was decided early. Mary Coleman, the manager of government affairs for Centura Health and a mover and shaker in the community, was running to complete the last two years of her predecessor's term. She had no challengers.
There were four candidates for three seats with four-year terms: incumbent Jim Mason, appointed incumbent Shawn Gullixson, community activist Julie Ott, and Morgan Chavez, who works at Progressive Insurance.
Indy endorsement: MASON, GULLIXSON, OTT
Vote brakdown: MASON (28.26 percent), GULLIXSON (23.91 percent), OTT (32.27 percent), CHAVEZ (15.56 percent)
click to enlarge D-11 school board winners (from left to right): Jim Mason, Julie Ott and Mary Coleman. Ott, who is new to the board, said she's been attending school board meetings and is  "ready to hit the ground running." - NAT STEIN
  • Nat Stein
  • D-11 school board winners (from left to right): Jim Mason, Julie Ott and Mary Coleman. Ott, who is new to the board, said she's been attending school board meetings and is "ready to hit the ground running."
click to enlarge Sarah Jack and Lauren Hug. Jack, a Mitchell High grad who worked to pass the last D-11 funding increase in 2000, cried as she said, "Everyone worked together, it was really a team effort." - NAT STEIN
  • Nat Stein
  • Sarah Jack and Lauren Hug. Jack, a Mitchell High grad who worked to pass the last D-11 funding increase in 2000, cried as she said, "Everyone worked together, it was really a team effort."

D-11 3E- D-11 asked voters for a hike in property taxes that will generate $42 million a year, and include no debt. The district says it will pay off existing debt by around 2023, meaning 3E will go from costing the owner of a $200,000 house in D-11 approximately an extra $14 a month in 2018 to around an extra $6 a month in 2023.
D-11 says the money will be used for capital repairs and upgrades to schools, increased teacher pay, and upgraded technology, among other needs.
Indy endorsement: YES
Vote breakdown: 57.31 percent YES, 42.69 percent NO

Manitou Springs Mayor - Incumbent Nicole Nicoletta, who has served two years in office, faced challenger Ken Jaray, an attorney and long-time community activist and volunteer.
Indy endorsement: NICOLETTA
Vote breakdown: NICOLETTA (35.38 percent), JARAY (64.62 percent)

Manitou Springs 2B - 2B asked to increase property taxes by up to $400,000 annually to pay $3.9 million (but with repayment costs up to $7 million) to build an emergency operations center for city government/training center for police and fire departments.
Indy endorsement: YES
Vote breakdown: 24.16 percent YES, 75.84 percent NO

Manitou Springs 2C - 2C asked to give the city the right to provide high-speed internet services or contract with a private provider.
Indy endorsement: YES
Vote breakdown: 84.31 percent YES, 15.69 percent NO


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