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Tipton, McLachlan win, marijuana amendment passes

By Lindsey Bright and Ed Fincher

Colorado may have gone blue in the presidential election, but it was a different story in Archuleta County and the Third Congressional District.

Overall, as of press time, Coloradans had cast 1,230,902 votes for President Barack Obama, a 51-percent majority.

Gov. Mitt Romney received 1,119,874 votes.

In Archuleta County, according to unofficial totals, the Obama/Biden ticket received 2,637 votes, and Romney/Ryan received 3,831 votes.

In the Third Congressional District race, incumbent Rep. Scott Tipton (R) was reelected to serve another two-year term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

According to unofficial election results from Archuleta County, Tipton received 3,776 votes, 60 percent. Sal Pace (D), with service in the state House of Representatives, received 2,147 votes, 34 percent. Tisha Casida, a young independent, received 245 votes in Archuleta County. Gregory Gilman, Libertarian, received 163 votes.

Archuleta’s outcome favored Tipton more than did the vote in the overall district in which Tipton won with a 54-percent majority, while Pace had 41 percent.

Shortly after the win, Tipton updated his Twitter feed with this comment on his victory: “After over a year campaigning, ten-of-thousands of miles driven and countless meetings and town halls the campaign came to an end tonight. Thanks to the support of my family and hundreds of volunteers, I am once again honored to be elected by the people of the 3rd Congressional District to represent them in Congress.”

On Wednesday, James Dakin, communications director for the Pace campaign, e-mailed SUN staff a statement on behalf of Pace: “Tuesday night, Sal called Congressman Tipton to congratulate him on his victory. It was a hard fought election and Sal is proud to have run a positive campaign that focused on finding solutions, not on scoring political points. Sal is so proud to have had the support of his family, his friends, and of the countless Coloradans who shared his vision for change.”

Casida sent an e-mail statement to SUN staff noting that she and her campaign team are proud of what they accomplished. She added that, “we are excited to keep working together to hold our representatives accountable and find real solutions for our community.”

State House

While incumbent Republican J. Paul Brown won the most votes in Archuleta County — 3,781 compared to 2,445 for the Democratic challenger Mike McLachlan — the rest of Colorado District 59 did not conform, with voters giving McLachlan a slim, last-minute victory with a vote of 21,030 to 20,262.

Neither McLachlan nor Brown responded to requests for interviews before The SUN’s Wednesday afternoon deadline.

“I’m tired of seeing government gridlocked?by partisanship and extremism,” McLachlan wrote on his website. “We need leaders who will put their political ideologies aside and find good ideas to rebuild our state’s economy, protect our Western Slope water, and invest in classroom innovations so that Colorado’s next generation is prepared to compete in the global economy. We deserve representation that will go to the State House and work to solve problems.?I will be a representative that carries Southwest Colorado’s common sense values to our legislature.”

In an earlier SUN interview he said, “I do want to tout the fact that I have been publicly endorsed by Governor Hickenlooper. He supports me and believes I am the best person for district 59. In the state legislature we need someone that can work with everyone. I have a history of that. I was the county attorney here in La Plata County for three and a half years. Even though I am a Democrat I was hired by a Republican county administrator, and two Republican commissioners were in the majority for the entire time I was the county attorney.”

Amendments

In other state-related ballot issues, county voters were asked to consider three amendments to the state constitution, and while all three passed in the state election, one item garnered slightly more “no” votes here.

Amendment 64, which will legalize marijuana, received favorable results in Archuleta County with 3,534 voters (or 55.6 percent) for it and 2,822 against. The results were positive statewide, with 55 percent for and 45 percent against.

Amendment 64 provides for a more progressive marijuana drug policy, and will allow the “personal use and regulation of marijuana” for adults 21 and over. It also addresses legal commercial cultivation, manufacture and sale. The idea is for marijuana to be treated in the same manner as alcohol.

While the new amendment will provide for licensing of cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, testing facilities, and retail stores (and local governments will now be able to regulate or prohibit such facilities), it does not apply to industrial hemp or medical marijuana.

This issue was discussed recently by the Pagosa Springs Town Council during its Aug. 23 and Sept. 6 meetings, where the decision was made to continue an existing moratorium on medical marijuana businesses for another year pending clearer direction from the state on the matter. David Schanzenbaker was the only council member to vote against the moratorium and in favor of allowing medical marijuana businesses to operate in town.

Amendment 64 requires the Colorado general assembly to enact an excise tax to be levied upon wholesale sales of marijuana, requiring that the first $40 million in revenue raised annually by such tax be credited to the public school capital construction assistance fund.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers Wednesday released the following statement concerning the amendment.

“Despite my strongly held belief that the ‘legalization’ of marijuana on a state level is very bad public policy, voters can be assured that the Attorney General’s Office will move forward in assisting the pertinent executive branch agencies to implement this new provision in the Colorado Constitution.?

“Coloradans should be cognizant of two caveats … First the ability of the federal government to criminally sanction possession, use and distribution of marijuana, even if grown, distributed and used in a single state, was recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Raich (545 US.1,2005). Therefore, absent action by Congress, Coloradans should not expect to see successful legal challenges to the ability of the federal government to enforce its marijuana laws in Colorado. Accordingly, I call upon the United States Department of Justice to make known its intentions regarding prosecution of activities sanctioned by Amendment 64 (particularly large wholesale grow operations) as soon as possible in order to assist state regulators and the citizens of Colorado in making decisions about the implementation of Amendment 64.

“Secondly, the proponents of Amendment 64 told voters that it imposed a surtax of up to 15 percent on marijuana sale that would result in up to $40 million each year going to K-12 schools in the state. In fact Amendment 64 did not comply with required language under the Taxpayers Bill of Rights and no such tax will be imposed. Instead it will be up to the Colorado Legislature whether to refer such a tax to the voters and up to the voters of Colorado whether to actually impose the tax. Therefore, such revenue is speculative and will not be forthcoming when Amendment 64 begins to be implemented.”

The next item, Amendment 65, which will place limits on campaign finances, received favorable results in Archuleta County with 4,815 (or 77.9 percent) voters for it and 1,364 against. The result percentages were nearly the same statewide, with 74 percent for and 26 percent against.

Amendment 65 is a reaction to the 2010 US Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision, which essentially removed any limit on how much Super PACs, 527s, corporations, unions and wealthy individuals can spend to elect or defeat candidates or ballot measures.

The item on the ballot stated, “Shall there be amendments to the Colorado constitution and the Colorado revised statutes concerning support by Colorado’s legislative representatives for a federal constitutional amendment to limit campaign contributions and spending, and, in connection therewith, instructing Colorado’s congressional delegation to propose and support, and the members of Colorado’s state legislature to ratify, an amendment to the United States constitution that allows congress and the states to limit campaign contributions and spending?”

Finally, Amendment S, which made changes to the state’s personnel system, passed the state with 56 percent for and 44 percent against, but in Archuleta County 2,908 people voted against it while 2,905 voted for it.

The description on the ballot for Amendment S stated, “Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning the state personnel system, and, in connection therewith, expanding the veterans’ preference; increasing the number of candidates eligible to be appointed to a position; adjusting the duration of allowable temporary employment; allowing the flexibility to remove a limited number of positions from the system; modifying the residency requirement; adjusting the terms of service for members of the state personnel board; and requiring merit-based appointments to be made through a comparative analysis process?”

This story was posted on November 14, 2012.