Republicans dominate Eagle County
In an historic mid-term election, Republicans gained control of the Senate and strengthened their lead in the House, with Eagle County making its own contribution to the Republican landslide.With the exception of District 2 Congressman Mark Udall and Kara Bettis, the new Eagle County Coroner, Democrats were shut out in Eagle County. Other notable races at the county level included: Republican Tom Stone successfully defended his District 3 county commissioner seat against Democratic challenger Gerry Sandberg and Independent Laurie Bower. Stone won with 45.1 percent of the vote (5,021) to Sandberg’s 39.5 percent (4,402) and Bower’s 15.2 percent (1,695). Republican Teak Simonton defeated Democrat Earlene Roach for the Eagle County Clerk and Recorder position vacated by Sara Fisher (due to term limits, which were also repealed for every major county position except commissioner). Simonton got 57.3 percent of the vote (6,143) to Roach’s 42.6 percent (4,572). Joe Hoy is the new Eagle County Sheriff in town, defeating fellow deputy Bill Kaufman by a margin of 54.6 percent (5,861) to 45.3 percent (4,862). Joyce Mack, Karen L. Sheaffer and Dan Corcoran ran unopposed in the assessor, treasurer and surveyor races, respectively. On the state level, Eagle County voters favored Republican winners Wayne Allard in the Senate race, incumbent Bill Owens for another term as governor over Democrat Rollie Heath, whose son Joel is a prominent Vail resident, Secretary of State Donnetta Davidson, incumbent treasurer Mike Coffman and Democrat incumbent Ken Salazar for attorney general. Depending on the counting of provisional ballots is the House District 56 race, matching Democrat incumbent Carl Miller of Leadville against Eagle-Vail GOP challenger Heather Lemon. Lemon beat Miller decisively in Eagle County (58.4 percent to 41.5 percent), but the race is pending final counts of provisional ballots district-wide.New this year, provisional ballots are filled out at the polling place by someone who believes they should be registered to vote but is not on the list.There are numerous reasons a voter needs to use a provisional ballot, such as an address change but not a precinct change, or an error made by the Department of Motor Vehicles. There were 388 provisional ballots cast in Eagle County, which a canvassing board has to verify.According to the clerk’s office, those results will be in by Tuesday, Nov. 12 (check our website, http://www.vailtrail.com, for updates).Ballot initiatives received a tremendous amount of local attention in this year’s general election, with several tax increases battling each other for prominence. Perhaps the biggest for Eagle County was Referendum 1H, which proposes raising property taxes county-wide by 1.5 percent for the purchase of open space. The count at press time had the referendum being defeated by two votes (5,456 to 5,454). The outcome could change pending the provisional ballot count.Two Vail ballot initiatives are still up in the air, pending the counting of 93 of the 388 provisional ballots that were cast by Vail residents. A 1.5 percent lodging tax increase coupled with a half-percent increase in sales tax for the purposed of constructing and operating a conference center has a very good chance of passing after the count. Referendum 2D was ahead by 804 votes to 781, or a slim 1.4 percent before tallying the 93 provisional ballots. It needs 36 yes votes to win. Less likely to pass is a 4 percent property tax increase designed to offset growing operational costs in the town. Referendum 2C appears to be on its way to defeat with 52 percent of the 1,585 votes cast thus far in the “no” column. In Avon, four town council seats are still undecided due to the same 388 provisional ballots outstanding until Nov. 12. As of now, the top four vote-getters are incumbents Mac McDevitt (359), Brian Sipes (335) and Debbie Buckley (298), while Avon Planning and Zoning commissioner Ron Wolfe is the top vote-getter overall at 392. Close behind Buckley are Rene Martinez (284) and Steve Miller (248).Avon voters also rejected a proposed use tax on building supplies.