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Tax proponents, would-be mayors are top campaign spenders so far

Elise Thatcher

Voters in Carbondale and Basalt are casting their ballots for the spring election, which ends Tuesday evening. Proponents of a new tax have raised-- and spent-- the most campaign dollars in Carbondale. In Basalt, that’s true of candidates for the mayor’s seat.

Basalt mayoral contender Rick Stevens has spent the most money so far in the battle to win the town’s top post. The latest campaign finance reports show Stevens has spent $5535, the vast majority on newspaper ads and yard signs.

Incumbent mayor Jacque Whitsitt has spent $3468 on mailers and newspaper ads. She’s raised more in campaign donations than Stevens, pulling in $9732.

The next biggest biggest spender in the Basalt election is Council Candidate Jennifer Riffle, putting about $1100 towards mailers. Council candidate Katie Schwoerer comes in at spending $603. Six candidates are running for three seats on Basalt Town Council.

As of Friday, 764 of more than 2000 ballots had been turned in by Basalt residents. In Carbondale, Town Clerk Cathy Derby recorded 875 ballots submitted so far, out of the 3,374 sent out.

In Carbondale, a committee named Climate Action Yes has been the biggest fundraising and spending entity for that town’s spring election. Climate Action yes has raked in $3060 and spent $2271 on door hangers and yard signs. If passed, Ballot Question 2A would tax residents for using natural gas and electricity, with proceeds going towards energy efficiency programs.

When it comes to candidates for the Carbondale Board of Trustees, Dan Richardson reports the most contributions. He’s raised $1915  and spent $1685 on newspaper ads and a website.

There are eight candidates running for three open Town Trustee seats. Richardson and others are still knocking on doors to win as many votes as possible before the election ends on Tuesday night. “I think [of] the key issues that I’ve heard from people, housing is certainly a big one,” said Richardson late last week. “[And] perhaps a higher level of thoughtfulness on the Board about strategic initiatives.”

Candidate Ben Bohmfalk reports hearing a similar theme from residents when he’s out on the campaign trail. “When people have something where they kind of roll their eyes and say something should be different," said Bohmfalk on Thursday, “the number one issue is stop talking about putting cats on leashes.” Town trustees considered a proposed cat ordinance last year.

Allyn Harvey is the only incumbent running for reelection, and is also considering going up against U.S. Congressman Scott Tipton in the fall. Harvey reports hearing from residents about  the two taxes on the ballot. The second would raise property taxes to pay for capital improvements like roads and sidewalks.

Carbondale candidate Wayne Horak says he hasn’t had a chance to campaign much this spring because he’s finishing a big work project. “I’m pretty well known in the area,” he said by phone on Friday, “so I’m relying on my [newspaper] ad and just the people who know me.” Newspaper advertising has been a common campaign expense for candidates.

With all the campaigns combined, trustees and tax supporters have spent more than $8000 so far. Candidate Patricia Warman is the only candidate in Carbondale who hasn’t spent or raised any money.

Ballots for the Carbondale and Basalt elections will be accepted until 7pm tomorrow, Tuesday April 5th.

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