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Voters elect mayor, approve lodging tax in Elizabeth

Only about a quarter of ballots were returned by April 3 deadline


The turnout was light for the April 3 Elizabeth municipal election, with unofficial results showing that Town Trustee Megan Vasquez was chosen as mayor and voters approved a proposal to establish a lodging tax.

About 800 mail-in ballots were sent to registered voters and fewer than 200 were returned.

The official results were scheduled to be verified by April 11. The election results are unofficial until the completion of the “signature cure” period during which city officials try to confirm that any signature on a ballot that doesn't clearly match the signature on the voter registration form is valid. The cure also applies to any ballot that wasn't signed.

There were three candidates for mayor: Vasquez, current Mayor Pro Tem Rachael White and Scott Walter.

According to the unofficial results, Vasquez received 117 votes, while Walter received 44 votes and White got 37. Although she wasn't elected mayor, White will complete the remaining two years of her term on the town board of trustees. Vasquez will serve two years as mayor.

Two incumbent trustees, Tammy Payne and Steve Gaither, were unopposed on the ballot. At stake were a two-year term and a four-year term. The candidate with the most votes will serve the four-year term.

According to the unofficial results, Payne, who was appointed to the board of trustees, received 132 votes and will now serve a four-year team on the board. Gaither received 112 votes and will serve a two-year term.

Elizabeth also asked voters to approve a proposal to enact a lodging tax that would be paid by guests at any motel or hotel built in the town. The issue was defeated in 2016 but this year voters approved it by a vote of 196 to 87.

The board of trustees voted to place the issue on the ballot in January. City officials said the reason for placing the issue on the ballot was to have it in place in case a hotel or motel is built in Elizabeth, where no such businesses currently exist.

Elizabeth is not a home rule city, so the proposal can't make the fee a percentage. By state law that governs statutory towns like Elizabeth, the lodging fee has to specify a specific amount that will never change. The fee in this proposal is $6.50 a day per room.


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