Colorado House 56 race too close to call
The House District 56 race in Eagle, Lake and Summit counties was too close to call at presstime.
With nine of 17 precincts counted in Summit County, Leadville Democrat Carl Miller led Eagle-Vail Republican Heather Lemon by 411 votes, 7,645 to 7,234.
Predictably enough, Miller dominated the voting in his home, Lake County, with 1,935 votes there to Lemon’s 470. But in Eagle County, which has more than 50 percent of the House District 56 population, Lemon rolled up 5,353 votes to to 3,799 for Miller. Through the nine precincts counted in Summit County, Miller led 1,500 to 1,190 in that county.
“We don’t know and it will be some time before anyone does,” said Lemon. “We were pleased with the Eagle County results and not surprised at the Lake County results.”
The results won’t be final until all the provisional ballots are counted, and that could take two to three days. Eagle County alone has almost 400 of those ballots.
Provisional ballots are available to voters at their polling location when their name does not appear on the voter registration book. Voters in this situation are given an opportunity to complete an affidavit and vote a provisional ballot. Election officials must verify the information provided in the affidavit prior to tabulation of the provisional votes cast.
The winner of the Lemon-Miller race is scheduled to go to Denver Thursday to vote on leadership positions in the state House.
Miller’s family has been in Leadville since 1893. Many people lay claim to being area locals, but few can match Miller. He served 12 years as a Lake County commissioner and three terms in the Colorado House of Representatives, and is looking for a fourth.
Miller points to that lineage and experience, plus six years in the Colorado House of Representatives, when he talks about his qualifications for another term. He said he’s the only rural Democrat,” he said. The rest, Miller said, are from either metro Denver or Colorado Springs.
He said his voting record indicates a strong independent streak, and he sometimes crossing party lines for what he called the good of his district.
Miller was a Lake County commissioner when the area’s economy went south after the mines closed. The cuts were brutal, and he said the area still hasn’t completely recovered.
He took over the National Mining Museum and Hall of Fame in 1989, starting with a vacant building, and ran it until 1996 when he first won a seat in the State Capitol.
Lemon’s family lived in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia for years, working in the international banking business. When they headed back to the United States, they could have lived anywhere – they settled in the Vail Valley.
Lemon’s a mother of three – one in college, two in Battle Mountain High School.
An automobile accident in July 2000 left her youngest daughter, Kelly, with a paralyzed right arm and the family buried under mountains of medical bills. As they were digging out from under it all, Lemon said she was astounded by people’s willingness in this area to rally for one another.
“We were absolutely overwhelmed by the community’s support,” says Lemon. “Schools and churches are made up of people, and those wonderful people came from everywhere to help us. We would never have made it without them.”
Lemon worked her way through Wheaton College and John Marshall Law School in Chicago, then launched a successful legal career. She and her husband, Don, practice what they call positive law specializing in immigration.
Because she gives away so much legal advice, she supplements her income as a real estate agent.