San Juan change of government question looks to be defeated

Votes still being counted day after election

Image courtesy of The San Juan Record

While hundreds of votes still have not been counted as of Wednesday morning, it appears as if voters are on the way to defeat a ballot initiative that could have led to a change in San Juan County government.

Preliminary trends show approximately 52 percent of county voters rejecting the ballot proposal, which would have set up a committee to investigate a possible change in county government.

Late on Tuesday evening, more than 650 votes were sitting in the safe of San Juan County Clerk John David Nielson. They represent late arriving mailed ballots and provisional ballots.

Despite the hundreds of as-yet uncounted votes, trends show that the initiative may go down to defeat. Commissioners will canvass the election results on Nov. 19.

Turnout was more than 50 percent in the off-year election, which was triggered when five county residents submitted a petition which put the question to the voters.

In recent weeks, the American Civil Liberties Union expressed concerns that the county may not be following a set of guidelines for county elections. The guidelines had been agreed upon as part of a settlement over a lawsuit regarding the vote-by-mail system used by San Juan County.

Delays are due to a number of factors, the greatest of which may be the immense distances involved in San Juan County.

Ballots from the polling stations in Montezuma Creek, Oljato and Navajo Mountain were shuttled up to Monticello after the polls closed at 8 p.m. on Nov. 5.

Voters elected three city residents to four-year terms on the Monticello City Council. Nathan Chamberlain, Kim Henderson, and Ron Skinner were the choice of voters. Chamberlain is an incumbent. Henderson and Skinner will fill the seats currently held by KC Olson and Blaine Nebeker.

The three newly elected representatives were also the top vote getters in the August primary election.

In Bluff, incumbents Jim Sayers and Brant Murray appear to have earned four-year terms on the Bluff Town Council. They had been elected to 18-month terms in the inaugural town council election in 2018.

A write-in attempt by Jennifer Davila fell just short, with 41 ballots signaling a preference for a write-in candidate. As of Wednesday morning, San Juan County Clerk John David Nielson had not yet checked the write-in ballots to see if Davila was the write-in candidate.

Three incumbents will each serve an additional four-year term on the Blanding City Council. Logan Monson, KD Perkins, and Logan Shumway were unopposed.

This story was originally published by The San Juan Record.