Voters reject county ballot initiative
by Steve Kadel
staff writer
Nov 07, 2012 | 3329 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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A record 69 percent of Grand County’s registered voters participated in Tuesday’s general election, shooting down a proposal to study realignment of county government and electing a slate of county council and school board candidates.

County council races

The closest Grand County Council race has Rory Paxman leading Kalen Jones 272 to 249 for the council District 5 seat. Thirty-seven provisional ballots still must be counted Nov. 20, said Grand County Clerk Diana Carroll. Paxman led by 61-60 in early balloting.

“We knew that was going to be close,” Carroll said.

Paxman said Wednesday he believes the race is settled.

“I think it’s done,” he said. “I think it’s over. Kalen did a good job of running and we did a good job. I feel good about it. I want to thank everyone who supported me.”

As for his priority if he joins the council, Paxman said, “I would just like everybody to work together.”

Jones isn’t banking on a turnaround in the vote count, either.

“Statistically it seems unlikely,” he said. “I want them to count the ballots but I am not counting on it.”

Jones said he is happy with his campaign.

“I certainly learned a lot, and getting to meet different people in my district was great,” he said.

In other county council races, incumbent Ken Ballantyne defeated Joe Downard 339-120 in council District 2. Elizabeth Tubbs received 660 votes in the unopposed District 4 race and Lynn Jackson garnered 2,628 votes for the unopposed at-large seat.

School board races

In races for Grand County school board, Melissa Byrd defeated Stacey Downard 403-86 in school board District 2, Jim Webster turned back Charles Jacobs 545-245 in District 3, and Peggy Nissen bested Jeanette Kopell 303-223 in District 5.

Ballot proposition

Ballot Proposition Initiative 1 asked voters to approve forming a study committee to consider and possibly recommend a change in Grand County’s form of government. It failed by a vote of 2,119 to 1,564,.

Chris Baird, a Grand County Council member who campaigned against the initiative, expressed satisfaction with the results.

“I am glad the citizens saw it for what it was – a partisan attempt to amend Grand County’s form of government,” he said. “I think the citizens are largely independent and they want politics to stay as independent as possible in Grand County, regardless of their political affiliation.”

He said he does not expect another attempt by initiative proponents, at least not soon.

“You would think they would respect the citizens’ voice,” Baird said.

However, initiative supporter Kim Call said she believes Grand County is out of compliance with the state constitution because the current form of government calls for term limits. She said that opens the county to a costly lawsuit.

“I believe being grandfathered in doesn’t make us immune,” Call said.

State and federal results

Grand County voters gave Republican Mitt Romney a majority in the race for president. He topped President Obama 1,894-1,668 – a margin of 49.9 percent to 44 percent. In statewide balloting, Romney defeated Obama 72.7 percent to 24.9 percent.

Local voters also backed longtime incumbent Republican Orrin Hatch in his race for U.S. Senate. Hatch received 49.5 percent of Grand Valley votes to 44.9 percent for Democrat challenger Scott Howell. Hatch’s victory across Utah was 65.1 percent to 30.3 percent.

In the race for for U.S. House District 3, Republican Jason Chaffetz edged Democrat Soren Simonsen 1,817-1,800 in Grand County. That margin was 50.1 percent to 49.7 percent, but Chaffetz triumphed by a count of 76.4 percent to 23.6 percent statewide.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert gained Grand County support in his re-election bid, topping challenger Peter Cooke, a Democrat, by 1,872-1,635 – 50.6 percent to 44.2 percent. He took a 68.3 percent to 27.8 percent victory across Utah.

Grand County voters gave majorities to Democrats for State Senate District 27, State House District 69 and State House District 70. But the Republicans in each race won the contests – David Hinkins over Michael Binyon for State Senate District 27, Jerry Anderson over Christine Watkins for State House District 69, and Kay McIff over Wayne Hoskisson for State House District 70.

Voter turnout

The large voter turnout in Grand County included 3,831 of the 5,535 registered voters. Carroll said that number includes absentee ballots but not provisional ballots. A total of 155 provisional ballots remain to be counted, she said.

The 299 absentee ballots received as of Election Day were counted Tuesday night. Carroll said Wednesday it is doubtful any more absentee ballots will arrive.

She called Tuesday’s voting activity the busiest she has worked in 14 years. Voters in Precinct 2 waited in line for up to 90 minutes at the Grand County Water and Sewer Service Agency office in Spanish Valley to cast their ballots.

Carroll said election workers barely had time to eat during the day. Some citizens brought soft drinks to help the poll workers through the day and evening.

“They were troopers,” Carroll said of election workers.

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