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Election 2019 Sees New School Board Candidates And Tobacco Taxes, Average Turnout

Nov 5, 2019

A sign outside of a Voter Service and Polling Center in Pitkin County.
Credit Ryer Gardenswartz / Aspen Public Radio

Tuesday's election confirmed new school board members and approval of new property tax rates and tobacco taxes. The Aspen Public Radio news team was following the results late into the night.

Tobacco taxes in Pitkin and Garfield Counties and Glenwood Springs all passed. Managing editor Craig Kopp has been following those taxes.

 

Craig: “When I talked last night with Pitkin County Commission chair Greg Poschman, he said the tobacco taxes passing mean a few things. First, the idea that the Roaring Fork Valley has the highest rate of cigarettes and vaping upsets voters and this gave them the opportunity to take action. Second, he said the vote on cigarette taxes shows the region is working together on the issue.”

Basalt residents passed 3A, which sets the town's property tax rate at its current level of 5.9%. Reporter Christin Kay has been following Basalt’s tax measure.

Christin: “Without the passage of 3A, the town stood to lose about $700,000 dollars a year from its budget and said it would have to make significant cuts to its services. This all started earlier this year when Basalt discovered that it might have violated TABOR, or Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights Amendment by raising its property tax rate, which TABOR says you can’t do without a vote. So they needed to have voters approve the rate they were currently at. 

I spoke Town manager Ryan Mahoney. He sounded like he and all of the town’s council and staff, are really ready to move forward. They’re proud of the level of service they provide currently and they’re happy they don’t have to cut that.”

 

Reporter Molly Dove was following local school board elections, including the Aspen School District’s board of education.

Molly: “There are five seats on the board, and this year two were up for election. Six candidates ran for the two open seats and the winners were Jonathan Nickells with about 26% of the vote and Katy Frisch with 25%. 

I talked with Frisch after the results came in. Full disclosure, she sits on Aspen Public Radio’s board. She said she is excited to get started on Aspen’s school board. She told me her first priority is to get a new superintendent hired to run the district. The district’s previous superintendent resigned in June of this year, and they have yet to find a replacement.

‘There is nothing more important than good leadership,” Frisch said. “And we need to make that progress to find our next leader of our organization, our district.’

All board members are eligible for two consecutive four-year terms. Nickells and Frisch will be sworn in later this month or early December.”

Reporter Alex Hager was keeping an eye on voter turnout in the valley.

Alex: “We’re still waiting for final numbers to roll in, but at the time we’re recording this, turnout is shaping up to be about what we expected.

For Pitkin County, Eagle County and Garfield County, those numbers are showing that just about 30% of registered voters cast a ballot this year. And if that sounds low, it’s not really for an election of this scale.

If you look at 2018 turnout as your point of comparison, of course it’s going to look low. But last November, there were some big statewide races that really got people out to the polls and put turnout numbers upwards of 60%.

But if you go back to 2017, turnout is pretty comparable. Like this year, most of the decisions on that ballot were smaller local and municipal races, and about 30% of voters in the valley were casting a ballot, give or take about 5%.”

For more information on election results, visit Aspen Public Radio's 2019 elections page