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New sheriff, treasurer to be chosen in 2018

Term limits stay, improvements get OK as minority of eligible voters cast ballots


With about four in 10 eligible voters taking part in Elbert County’s Nov. 7 election, a bid to lengthen term limits for the sheriff and treasurer were decisively defeated and the Elizabeth School Board saw two newcomers elected along with the board’s current vice president.

The tally as of Nov. 10, three days after the election, showed a little under 7,800 votes cast in Elbert County, said Elbert County Election Manager Rhonda Braun.

Braun stated that although the low turnout could have been from the off-year election status, voter fatigue may have played a large role.

“There’s still a lot of suspicion from last year,” she said. “I got a phone call from someone who asked if we were going to discard their ballot .. . We don’t do that — we’d never throw away ballots.”

In contrast, the county is required by law to perform a post-election audit.

“We’ve always done post-election audits, but it’s a new system for Colorado this year,” Braun said.

“The director of elections for the state called us because we’re doing a new risk-limiting audit,” she said. “We have a lot of people coming to see us even from out of state, even from Harvard’s JFK School of Government, and also from the private business sector.”

The out-of-state guests have been visiting one large, one medium and a smaller Colorado county — Elbert — to see how they are executing the new auditing system.

Braun also showed enthusiasm for the county’s new voting equipment.

“Our new voting equipment is fabulous. It was really good, it was efficient, and because it was on countywide issue (measures 1A and 1B), we had more ballots to work with than otherwise, so it was a positive for us,” she said.

There was still work to do after Election Day, Braun said. “We have eight days to get in ballots from military and overseas, and we have signature cures — if their signature didn’t match what we have on file, they have to come in and fix it,” Braun said.

There were 10 signature discrepancies and 15 who forgot to sign. “All of those people will have a chance to update their signature and get it accepted,” Braun said, “but there really aren’t enough outstanding ballots to sway the results on any issue.”

School board gets new members

Elizabeth School Board Vice President Carol Hinds won another term on the five-member board. In addition to Hinds, Paul Benkendorf and Cary A. Karcher won seats on the school board.

Hinds, Benkendorf and Karcher each received between 27 percent and 30 percent of the vote in the contest for three seats, while Kevin Combest received about 16 percent.

“I have been pleased with the direction we have been going. I can only speak for myself, but I would like to see us continue working at the state level advocating for higher funding for rural districts,” Hinds said after the election.

“As we are a rural district next to some much wealthier districts. Teacher turnover will always be a focus for us,” she said. “I believe this new board will work very well together and will have a strong focus on what is best for our students.”

Board President Deb Spenceley and Secretary Chris Richardson, who is also a county commissioner, did not run for another four-year term.

Elizabeth School District Superintendent Douglas Bissonette welcomed the new members.

“I’m looking forward to Carol Hinds’ continued contribution to our schools, and to working with new board members Paul Benkendorf and Cary Karcher,” Bissonette said in an email.

“The new board members will bring important perspectives, experiences and ideas to Elizabeth Schools, and I believe all five board members will work very well together on behalf of students.

“We are very grateful for the service and dedication of outgoing board members Chris Richardson and Deb Spenceley,” Bissonette added. They did a tremendous job for the district.”

Richardson was optimistic at the outcome of the election.

“As an outgoing member of the Elizabeth C1 School Board, I am truly pleased to see the results of that election … I am confident that our students and families will be well served,” he said.

Term limits remain

Measures 1A and 1B were voted against, which wouldn’t have allowed Sheriff Shayne Heap and Treasurer Rick Pettitt, respectively, to run for third terms in next year’s election.

Linda Krausert of Elizabeth spearheaded the inclusion of the measures on the ballot.

“I feel the voters did not read the measure language,” Krausert said after the election. “When I spoke to people after (Election Day) explaining (the measures), they took the time to read it, and were then in favor.”

“Most just had it in their minds it was trying to rid term limits,” Krausert said, “and I’m sorry it was defeated.”

Also, the approval of Measure 5A will allow the Department of Parks and Recreation to continue to receive funding from the mill levy assessment that was initially approved in 2000, paying for district improvements such as Casey Jones Park, roadway improvements and increased out-of-school programming for youth.

Measure 5B was also approved, which allows the county to improve the main roads in the Sun Country Meadows community.

“I was very pleased to see that the residents of Sun Country Meadows approved the ballot measure that will allow us to improve the main roads in that community,” Richardson said.

“This project … will result in completed roads by mid-summer of next year,” he said.

“This is the type of rapid progress that can be made,” said Richardson, “when citizens and their government trust each other and work hand-in-hand.”


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