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Board race hinges on outstanding ballots

Sun Advocate publisher

LeDonna Hall and Kasandra Asay bring books, memory cards and ballot cannisters to the county clerk's office Tuesday night. Sulika Merrell, Alexis Horsley and Robert Pero examine the materials to make certain that everything is correct and in place before the votes were counted.

Nationally, the major 2006 election story focused on the Democratic Party's revival.

But in Carbon County, one of the closest elections in memory took place on Nov. 7.

In the race for the east county school board seat, Ed Chavez from Wellington and Ruby Cordova from East Carbon stayed neck and neck all night.

After all of the regular and early ballots were tallied, election officials realized that the race will not be decided until the absentee and provisionary ballots are counted.

"This is the closest race I have seen in my years as clerk -auditor of this county," pointed out Robert Pero on Tuesday evening.

"Between Nov. 14 to 20, we will be counting the absentee ballots that come in as well as the provisional ballots that were submitted today. That may make the difference in the race," continued the county clerk-auditor.

With Cordova leading Chavez by a slim 451 to 449 margin, the outstanding ballots could make the county board of education race go either way.

"I haven't had much sleep for a few nights and I thought tonight I would get some," commented Cordova, who was at the county courthouse when Pero made the announcement. "I guess I won't for a few more days."

Write-in candidate Bruce Atwood appeared to have received 105 votes in the contested race for the board of education position.

But Pero could not offcially confirm whether all of the 105 votes actually went to Atwood.

"I think the writing is on the wall," said Atwood as he walked out of the commission chambers.

But the writing on the wall in Chavez' estimation was a little different.

"I think the write in vote made a difference in this race," commented Chavez. "I guess we will have to wait until next week to see what happens."

The absentee and provisional ballots will be counted at the 2006 election canvass, when the vote is certified.

Provisional ballots are used by voters who appear at polling stations where they are not registered or who have identification problems.

The clerk's office will examine the ballots and determine whether the voters are properly registered.

If there is a tie in the final tally, state law specifies that election officers must choose the winner by lot in a public meeting with the candidates present.

That could mean Chavez and Cordova might be drawing straws to see who gets to serve on the school board.

A second election matter of local interest was the county commission race between incumbent Democrat Bill Krompel and Republican challenger Gerald Lloyd.

Krompel's bid for re-election was victorious, with the incumbent receiving 2,927 votes to challenger Lloyd's 1,833.

"He has me by about a 60 to 40 majority," commented Lloyd on Tuesday. "That's about the same distance that was between me and [Mike] Milovich a couple of years ago when I ran against him for commissioner."

Price's zoo, arts and parks tax proposition passed with 1,011 people voting for the proposal and 804 casting ballots against the initiative.

The favorable vote means Price will add one-tenth of one cent to the city's sales tax assessment next year.

The election also featured a number of non-contested political races involving all county officials except the one commissioner, two state representatives and one school board position.

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