Vail councilman blames self for missing ballot
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” The numbers are in, and would-be Democratic candidate Mark Gordon is out, just eight signatures shy of making it to the primary ballot in August.
Only 122 signatures that Vail town councilman Gordon turned in last Thursday were valid, and 130 were needed for him to challenge incumbent County Commissioner Peter Runyon for the Democratic nomination, said Eagle County Clerk and Recorder Teak Simonton.
Gordon said he could have verified his petition signatures before turning them in, but did not.
“Obviously I’m disappointed, but the fault is mine,” he said. “I’m a big boy. When I mess up I take responsibility for it.”
Nine petition signatures were disqualified because they were not registered voters and 47 were disqualified because they were registered with a different party or gave an address different from the one under which they were registered to vote.
Unaffiliated primary contestants are allowed 10 days to collect additional signatures if their ballot signatures are invalid, but party candidates are not, Simonton said.
“The party system is not trying to encourage people to gain access to the party ballot using that method [of petitioning]. They prefer people to go through the commissioning process,” Simonton said. “It’s a little bit inconsistent.”
Runyon, who represents the upper Vail Valley, said Gordon’s failure to make the ballot will make his campaign against Republican challenger Dick Gustafson easier.
“It absolutely gives me some breathing room. I’m only going to be running one campaign rather than two,” Runyon said. “I can concentrate on getting reelected.”
Eagle County Democratic Party vice-chair New New Wallace said the party is pleased that Gordon did not make the ticket.
“Anytime you have a primary it makes things a little more contentious,” Wallace said. “The fact that he didn’t make it on just makes this election a little easier for the Democrats to win.”
Gordon has plans for the remainder of his term on the Vail town council but does not know if he will run again for commissioner or for reelection on the town council.
“I learned a lot by talking to the people of the county collecting my 180 signatures and there are many things people in the county want that I will be able to help accomplish with my seat on the council, such as municipal-county cooperation,” he said.
Gordon is a freelance writer for an auto Web site and plans to write more frequently since he did not make it to the primary. “I promise the people of Eagle County I will not be sitting out on a street corner begging,” he said.
With Gordon’s failure to get on the ballot, all commissioner primaries in Eagle County will be uncontested this year, Simonton said.
Colorado law states that candidates cannot move to the general election unless nominated in the primary, so there will still be a primary election this year, she said.
Gustafson, an independent entrepreneur who served as county commissioner from 1985 to 1993, is running as the District 1 Republican candidate for county commissioner.
The primary will be held August 12.
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