Less than a third of the town’s registered voters turned out, or turned in (mail ballots), to vote in Tuesday’s election in which three newcomers — Clint Alley, Tracy Bunning and David Schanzenbaker — won seats on the Pagosa Springs Town Council and voters approved three ballot questions that amended sections of the town’s Home Rule Charter.
According to Pagosa Springs town clerk April Hessman, 261 votes were cast in Tuesday’s election. There are 1,072 registered voters in Pagosa Springs. Of those, 409 are considered inactive, with 208 of those designations inactive because of a failure to vote in the last election (November 2011), the rest inactive due to returned mail or other problems.
“Inactive due to returned mail or other problems,” amounts to 200 voters, leaving 872 potential registered voters in town. Tuesday’s vote represented just under 30 percent of the 872 potential voters in town.
In the matter of filling three open seats on council, voters leaned towards relative political newcomers. In that decision, Alley led with 197 votes, with Bunning garnering 163 votes and Schanzenbaker taking 146 votes.
Of the three, Bunning has the most experience with local government, having served on the town’s planning commission board for eight years (with four years as chairman) as well as holding the role of Pagosa Springs Chief of Police for four years.
Alley served on the Seeds of Learning board for over two years but begins his term with no experience with local government. He owns a local real estate development and construction company.
Recently a fixture at board meetings held by the town, Schanzenbaker is a self-employed subcontractor in the construction industry with no government experience.
In what could be interpreted as a desire by town residents to effect a change at the level of town government, candidates with previous council experience did not fare as well on Tuesday night. Former trustee Mark Weiler ended the night with 99 votes while sitting council member Bob Hart finished with 97 votes.
Hart was appointed to the board last May (Hart was the only applicant for the position) after Jerry Jackson resigned from council the month before. Hart currently serves as president of the Town Tourism Committee (TTC).
Weiler represented District 1 in Pagosa Springs after being appointed in March 2008, filling the seat after the resignation of John Middendorf from the board. Weiler later resigned from his seat in March 2010 due to moving out of District 1 just prior to stepping down. Weiler currently sits on the board of the Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation.
Both Alley and Schanzenbaker credited the voters’ desire for change in their victories Tuesday night.
“I think it was the decisiveness of the vote that was encouraging,” Schanzenbaker said yesterday. “It really shows that people who voted yesterday (Tuesday) wanted to see a change on council.”
Alley mirrored those sentiments, telling SUN staff yesterday, “Last night’s (Tuesday’s) vote reflected that the citizens of the town are ready for some new blood, new ideas. They were saying they wanted to move forward in a fresh way. I think that was reflected in the whole vote with Tracy and David, and by a big margin.
“The voters wanted us to work with the current administration to bring that new perspective and change.”
“I was very pleased and I would like to thank all the people who took the time to go out and vote or mail in their ballots,” Bunning said regarding his victory on Tuesday. “I’m looking forward to getting started and working with the other members of the board.”
Tuesday’s ballot asked voters to select three candidates out the five running. From the total 702 boxes checked by voters, Alley had 28 percent, Bunning had 23 percent, Schanzenbaker had 21 percent, with both Hart and Weiler winning 11 percent.
Voters were also asked to consider three ballot questions regarding amendments to the town’s Home Rule Charter and all passed easily with a clear majority of support.
In the first ballot question, voters were asked to consider changes to sections 3.1, 3.2, 3.10, 6.5, 10.4, 10.5 and 12.14 of the charter and “Update language, delete obsolete language, clarify language, make language more uniform with other provisions of the charter and the Colorado Revised Statutes, correct typographical errors, and correct grammatical errors.” The issue passed with a 72-percent margin.
The second ballot question asked voters that the charter, “Be amended to update the duties, powers, qualifications and responsibilities of the Town Council and Town Manager, and the procedures for filling vacancies of the same, and to amend the procedures of Town Council meetings and adopting ordinances,” amending sections 2.1, 2.3, 2.8, 3.1, 3.2.5, 3.9, 6.3, 6.6, 7.1, 7.2, 7.7, 10.7, and 11.1. Voters approved that issue with a 60-percent margin.
The third ballot question, proposing changes to portions of the charter that, “update the municipal election, initiative, referendum and recall procedures,” included amendments to sections 4.1, 4.2, 4.6, 4.7, 4.8, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, 5.7 and 5.9 of the charter. The matter was given the nod by voters with a 62-percent margin.