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Elections rule the day in Carbon: Dems keep control locally, but close commission race still up for grabs

Democratic county commission candidate David Palacios (left) and Republican opponent Jae Potter shake hands shortly after hearing that they were virtually tied in the closest race in memory.

Sun Advocate publisher

One Carbon County Commission race looked like a sure thing all evening, while the other was neck and neck with one candidate jumping ahead and then the other doing the same thing as election results came in Tuesday evening.

When the dust cleared Republican Jae Potter and Democrat David Palacios found themselves only separated by five votes with Palacios garnering 2,585 votes to Potter's 2,580.

'The closest race'

"This is the closest race I have ever seen in this county for a commission seat," said present County Commissioner Mike Milovich after the vote was announced at the Carbon County Courthouse. "I've lived here my whole life and it's never been this way."

Potter had run against Milovich only two years ago and had come somewhat close to catching up with the sitting commissioner. Because of that effort, Potter was a better known quantity this time and Palacios was more of a newcomer. Potter attributed that experience to some of his success in this election.

"I learned a lot from running against Mike the last time," said Potter, who was at the courthouse. "I think that helped me this time."

Both candidates are vying for the seat that long time Commissioner Bill Krompel is vacating in January.

Undecided until next week

But despite Palacio's narrow margin, he isn't out of the woods yet. Provisional and some absentee ballots still remain to be counted and that will be done on Nov. 9 when the vote canvas is done at the courthouse.

"We have 154 provisional ballots to count," said Carbon County Clerk Bob Pero. "We also have a number of absentee ballots to count as well. Those (absentee ballots) had to be in the mail yesterday (Nov. 1) and some still need to arrive at our office. Within the vote numbers we announced tonight there were a number of absentee ballots that had come in that we counted. We will count the others when we do the canvas next week."

On Wednesday morning Alexis Horsley, the Deputy County Clerk said that after doing a survey of sent out absentee ballots only 18 had not been returned and that 109 had been counted the night before. The clerks office had also accepted nine "hospitalized" ballots on Tuesday which were counted into the totals.

Obviously the absentee and provisional ballots will change the count, but it remains to be seen if they will change the outcome of what was announced Tuesday evening.

In the other commission race John Jones defeated Travis Blackburn quite easily 2,884 to 2,219. However many at the courthouse commented that the vote count was closer than they thought it would be in that race.

In another hotly contested race, present Carbon County Sheriff James Cordova outlasted Robbins Radley 2,978 to 2,231. It was the first time since being elected sheriff in 1998 that Cordova has had to face an opponent in a general election.

After the announcement of the final numbers, Palacios and Potter shook hands, and were quite jovial, although discernably nervous about what the final outcome might be.

Other county races had candidates that were unopposed. Those winners included Pero, the county clerk/auditor, Julie Patterson Medley for county assessor, Gene Strate as county attorney, Vikki Barnett who is the county recorder and Marilyn Graham the county's treasurer.

Both position that were open in the Carbon School Board were unopposed so both Wayne Woodward and newcomer Lee McCourt were elected.

As for judgeships in the area, both seventh district court judges, George Harmond and Douglas Thomas, were affirmed by voters. Justice court judges Elayne Storrs (Price/Wellington) and Linda Murdock (Helper and East Carbon) were also supported.

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