Montoya becomes Red Cliff’s new mayor
Native son Ramon Montoya will be Red Cliff’s new mayor, winning the seat with a landslide victory of 79 percent of the votes Tuesday.
Joining him on the town’s Board of Trustees will be Duane Nelson, incumbent Walter Fox, Jim Bradford and Betty Sandoval, who is finishing up a term as mayor.
Red Cliff residents hit the polls Tuesday in record numbers. Voter turnout was 50 percent, or 109 of the town’s 217 registered voters. The population in Red Cliff is about 350 and normally only about 30 percent of the electorate votes, town officials said.
“I’d like to see some change,” said voter Tom Henderson, as he was leaving the Town Hall Tuesday evening. Like most residents, Henderson said the town’s problems with its water and sewage treatment plants are his biggest concern.
Montoya was appointed to fill a vacancy on the council about 8 months ago. He said he pleased Tuesday night with the high voter turnout in a town that hasn’t had an election for eight years.
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“I’m excited,” he said. “I know that it was a huge turnout for Red Cliff, which speaks volumes. I think there are some legitimate concerns out there. I’m glad that people put the trust in me to go forward.”
Montoya’s 81 votes beat out Julie Sturt, a two-year resident of Red Cliff who received 21 votes.
Voters appeared to favor longtime residents. Sandoval and Fox are incumbents on the board, earning 54 percent and 62 percent of votes, respectively. Both won four-year terms on the board
Nelson and Bradford may be newcomers to the board, but Bradford is a 12-year Red Cliff resident and Nelson, a six-year resident. Nelson earned a four-year term with 52 percent and Bradford grasped the two-year term with 51 percent of votes.
Newcomers and incumbents alike will have their hands full when they take office.
For more than two years, the town has battled on-again, off-again orders to boil all drinking water. When the water plant is not operating properly, the town water mains fill with untreated water from Turkey Creek. More than a few residents have contracted giardia, a persistent parasite, from drinking the untreated water.
The town also is on a cease-and-desist order from the state because its sewage treatment plant isn’t working properly, either. As a result, it sends less than fully treated water back into the Eagle River below town.
Henderson said he would also like to see the town enforce more stringent building code requirements, noting that doing so wouldn’t make improving structures as difficult as it is in other communities. It would help improve the overall appearance of homes in Red Cliff, he said.
“It’s one of the few places you can do a little bit of what you want,” he said.
Lifelong resident and regular voter, Edna Salazar, said she was impressed by the turnout this year. She came into vote around 5:30 p.m.
“I’ve always been at the end. And I’ve always been number 27 or something like that,” said Salazar, who was the 81st voter on Tuesday.
Her criteria for an excellent public representative are simple, she said.
“They need to do something for the community, not just for themselves,” she said.
Red Cliff results
Ramon Montoya 79%*
Julie Sturt 21%
Walter Fox, incumbent 62%*
Betty Sandoval, incumbent 54%*
Duane Nelson 52%*
Jim Bradford 51%**
Debbie Faber 45%
Eric Cregon 39%
Valarie Blevins 20%
* – four-year term
** – two-year term
Total Registered Voters: 217
Total Votes Cast: 109
Voter Turnout: 50%