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Pagosa Springs election next Tuesday

Town voters not using mail-in ballots will go to the polls on Tuesday to decide how to fill three open at-large council seats on the Town Council, while also being asked to consider three ballot questions that propose to amend over 30 sections of the town’s Home Rule Charter.

Voters electing to post mail-in ballots should have those ballots signed and in the mail by Saturday at the latest, in order to ensure that the ballots will be delivered by the April 3 deadline. However, those voters can hand deliver their ballots to Town Hall on Tuesday during polling hours — 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Registered town voters who did not receive a mail-in ballot (due to being labeled ‘inactive’ or for other reasons) or who prefer to vote in the traditional manner can go to Town Hall (the only polling place for the April 3 election) during the polling times specified above.

There are five candidates for the three council seats: Clint Alley, Tracy Bunning, Bob Hart (currently serving on council), David Schanzenbaker and Mark Weiler.

Along with consideration of council seats, Home Rule Charter amendments will be offered to voters in three ballot questions.

In the first ballot question, voters will be asked to consider changes to sections 3.1, 3.2, 3.10, 6.5, 10.4, 10.5 and 12.14 of the charter. Essentially, amendments in the first ballot question address matters of housekeeping — “Update language, delete obsolete language, clarify language, make language more uniform with other provisions of the charter and the Colorado Revised Statutes, correct typographical errors, and correct grammatical errors,” as was written in Ordinance 767 (passed by council in February).

A copy of that ordinance is available at the Pagosa Springs Town Hall. A copy of the town charter is also available at Town Hall or can be downloaded on the town’s website at www.townofpagosasprings.com by clicking on the “Documents” tab on the left side of the page.

The second ballot question asks voters that the charter, “Be amended to update the duties, powers, qualifications and responsibilities of the Town Council and Town Manager, and the procedures for filling vacancies of the same, and to amend the procedures of Town Council meetings and adopting ordinances,” and amends sections 2.1, 2.3, 2.8, 3.1, 3.2.5, 3.9, 6.3, 6.6, 7.1, 7.2, 7.7, 10.7, and 11.1.

The third ballot question, amending portions of the charter that, “update the municipal election, initiative, referendum and recall procedures,” includes proposed changes to sections 4.1, 4.2, 4.6, 4.7, 4.8, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, 5.7 and 5.9 of the charter.

Section 5.2.E refines language that created confusion prior to a 2010 referendum that asked voters to repeal a decision by council (by ordinance) in 2009 that scrapped certain parts of the town’s Land Use and Development Code that placed restrictions on proposed developments exceeding 40,000 square feet — so-called big box regulations.

At that time, the petition for referendum was thrown into question due to language in 5.2.E that currently refers to petitions “filed by the applicant” — leaving open the question of exactly who can submit a petition. The change proposed in ballot question three would specify, “filed by the petitioner, who shall be a registered elector of the town.”

Another proposed change provides petitioners some clarification, and a little latitude, when seeking to pursue a voter referendum. As currently written, a petitioner has 13 days following the publication of a subject ordinance to provide written intent to file a petition, then 14 days following that filing to submit the completed petition.

The proposed change would retain the 13-day deadline for submitting written intent, but scraps language that stipulates submission 14 days after the filing and instead states, “no later than thirty (30) days after the publication following final passage of the subject ordinance” — effectively giving petitioners an additional three days to complete and submit a petition for referendum.

If voters have any questions regarding Tuesday’s election, they should contact Town Clerk April Hessman at 264-4151, Ext. 237. Voters can go to govotecolorado.com to check their current voting status and, if that status shows that the voter is inactive, they can reactivate their status — or reactivate that status by voting in Tuesday’s election.

jim@pagosasun.com

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