As of 11 p.m., unofficial election results were looking favorable for local incumbents: Garfield County Clerk Jean Alberico (D) earned 54 percent of tallied votes over Republican challenger Bonnie McLean’s 46 percent, and Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky (R) accounted for 52 percent over Paula Stepp (D) at 48 percent.
“I enjoy so much what I do, and Bonnie put a lot of energy and effort and ran a great campaign,” Alberico said. “I just think the voters decided maybe they wanted someone with experience to continue doing the job, and I’m so excited they voted to keep me. I have a great staff, and I’m excited about us putting in a new voting system in place next year that will hopefully allow us to count ballots much faster than this,” she added. As of 11:07 p.m., an approximate 3,400 ballots have yet to be tallied, and unofficial final numbers will likely be released midday Wednesday, according the Garfield County website.
Neither Jankovsky nor Stepp felt as sure about the voters’ decision for the future of the commissioner’s seat. Stepp, in acknowledgement of the number of uncounted votes, reserved comment until final numbers are public. Jankovsky, while acknowledging his win isn’t a “sure thing, it’s statistically pretty likely at this point.” It’s a tighter race, and he credited Stepp with “having the momentum” throughout much of the campaign.
“I think really, the difference was in the position that was taken on Proposition 112,” Jankovsky, who strongly opposed the measure, said. “I think that was the momentum changer, at least from my perspective.”
But he is already looking forward to continuing projects for which the groundwork is laid, such as expanding broadband access to 72 percent of rural Garfield County residents, and eyeing future solutions to enhance overall quality of life in the area.
“As far as things to work on, I think in the Carbondale area, I hope we can get County Road 107 — which is the road that goes up to Mushroom Rock — I hope we can get that straightened out and get a parking lot there,” he said. “Also, Riverside School: we need to get a trail from Iron Bridge so those children can ride their bike or walk to school.” Additionally, he is prioritizing enhancing public transportation offers to connect Parachute to Rifle more effectively.
Not-a-new sheriff in town
Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario was in high spirits Tuesday evening, as early reporting showed him with a more-than 95-percent lead over write-in candidate Paramroop Khalsa.
As of the night’s last report from the county, 645 voters wrote in Khalsa’s name for the sheriff position. Vallario accounted for 13,336.
“Honestly, I’m very appreciative that the residents continue to have confidence in me,” Vallario said. “I think we do a good job; we listen to the community, we’re understanding. We run a difficult business, being in law enforcement.”
With that validation from the voters in mind, he said he’s not planning any “big changes” in the department, instead focusing on “subtle” ones.
“If there’s a benchmark at the end of this year, I want to be above that benchmark at the beginning of next year,” he said, adding that he didn’t want to simply maintain the status quo. “It looks like [Proposition] 112 is going to go down in defeat. Personal politics aside, that’s good because it was going to severely affect my budget. We would have had to start cutting back on the things our community is used to.”
Rankin and Tipton keep their seats
Bob Rankin (R), will continue his tenure as the Colorado State Representative for district 57, with a 63-percent share of the tallied votes late Tuesday over challenger Colin Wilheim (D).
“The first two years that I was there, it was a Democrat partisan house and a lot of bad feelings, a lot of late nights over things that were going to happen anyway,” he recalled. “Now, in the last four years, it’s been a split house,” which is a dynamic Rankin said he prefers over either party having a majority. “We killed each other’s dumb bills.”
In Rankin’s mind, his representation is more guided by the region he serves than party politics.
“I think that I’ve become more of a Western Slope and rural representative than I have a partisan representative, so I’m going to work on things that I think I can get done for us,” he said. “It’s almost as hard to find sympathy with the Republicans as it is with the Democrats when it comes to things like healthcare costs [in rural Colorado]… I’m hopeful that I can build coalitions that can support our interests. I’ll be on the budget committee, which helps. I think I can make a difference there, not because I represent a party but because I represent a region.”
And while Rankin will maintain his office address in the state capital in Denver, Scott Tipton (R) will maintain his Washington, D.C. presence in the U.S. House of Representatives for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional district. As of Tuesday night, Tipton enjoyed an almost nine-point lead over Democratic challenger Diane Mitsch Bush.