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Town election features mayoral race, referendum

On April 6, residents registered to vote in the Town of Pagosa Springs will be given the chance to decide if most existing regulations regarding Big Box development should remain in the town’s Land Use and Development Code (LUDC) or if they should be repealed.

Referendum A will ask town voters whether or not they agree with a decision made by the Pagosa Springs Town Council last August that repealed a section of the LUDC regarding Big Box development.

Supporters of a “yes” vote on Referendum A maintain that the section discourages Big Box development in Pagosa Springs and that a Big Box store is vital for future economic growth in the community. However, opponents maintain that the regulations are the result of hard work and comprehensive community input, reflecting the values of that community.

Also on the ballot are two candidates for Pagosa Springs mayor. Incumbent Ross Aragon has served as mayor since 1978 and is one of the longest serving mayors in the country. His challenger, local resident Bill Hudson, announced his candidacy last month.

Although three district seats are up for grabs, all three seats are unopposed. Kathy Lattin, a current member on the town’s Planning Commission, is running for the seat open for District 1. Former Pagosa Springs Police Chief and current council member Don Volger is running to regain his seat in District 2. Also running for reelection, council member Darrell Cotton is running for the seat in District 3.

While all three seats are unopposed, space will be provided for a write-in candidate on all ballots. However, viable write-in candidates must be residents of the town (and, if a council write-in, must reside in the district for that particular seat), must not be a convicted felon and must register with the town clerk with their intention that they would accept the position, if elected.

Upon arriving at the polls (in Town Hall), voters must present some proof of residence — a utility bill or phone bill, driver’s license, voter registration card, or other proof of address. Once the voter’s name is looked up and the voter’s district is determined, the voter will be handed a ballot appropriate to that district.

New this year is a “ranked” voting system and voters will be asked to rank their choice for mayor: first through third (the two candidates plus a write-in, if a candidate registers).

According to Town Clerk April Hessman, the town will be running a “voter education” program from March 29 through April 5 and town staff will be available on those days to answer any questions regarding the ballot and the process.

A sample ballot will run in the March 25 edition of The SUN.