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Wednesday, November 4,2009

Longmont turnout may have tanked county's green initiatives

By Pamela White and Jeff Dodge

Benker agrees that the large turnout among conservative voters in Longmont may have contributed to the defeat of County Ballot Issues 1A and 1B.

“I think that’s a real possibility,” she says. “If there were so many conservatives that turned out to vote for conservative candidates, they would be highly likely to vote against the ‘green’ initiatives.”

Witt, who has denied having any involvement with the anti-Benker campaign, says the outcome of the race was more about issues than money.

“All of the people who I wanted to win won,” she says. “I was rather surprised at the margin of victory. It was a clear mandate that we’re ready to get back on track in Longmont.”

She said the higher-than-expected turnout in the Ward 2 race was not just due to the mailings and phone calls made on her behalf.

“I knocked on 3,000 doors,” Witt says. “We worked really hard to get out the vote.”

But Benker says the outcome wasn’t about knocking on doors, which she says she did to the tune of a couple thousand households.

“There was a lot of big money in this campaign,” she says. “It’s hard to say how much was spent, because not everything was declared, I believe.”

Benker says she was especially shocked that Mayor Roger Lange lost to Bryan Baum in the election.

“I was very surprised at what happened to Roger Lange, because he’s a good man,” she says. “It’s very unfortunate that the conservatives targeted him because he’s a very moderate Republican.”

Witt says her first priority will be to work toward discontinuing the city’s lawsuits against the town of Firestone over the annexation of property for the LifeBridge Christian Church development.

“I really want to see those lawsuits dropped and tied up,” she says. “I will be more than happy to close that chapter.”

Witt also says she’s ready to get past the bitter battles of the election season.

“We want to start working together cooperatively for what’s best for Longmont. Let’s heal old wounds and move on.”

The Boulder County Elections Division completed tallying the 62,667 ballots by 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 4.

“We had a low turnout this year for two reasons. First, because there was no statewide issue,” Boulder County Clerk & Recorder Hillary Hall said in a news release. “Second, we had a record number of people register to vote in 2008 and many did not turn in a ballot this year. We need to find a way to encourage one-time voters to become lifetime voters. We want them to understand how all elections can impact their lives.”

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Open Space proponents can spin the loss however they choose.  But, I'm hearing there were a lot of folks who have always voted YES on Open Space in prior elections who voted NO this time.  Myself included.

Perhaps its time to revisit the idea of splitting Boulder County into 2 counties.  Those immediately in the vicinity of the City of Boulder could tax themselves to oblivion.  The rest of us wouldn't care.



Oh, this is funny. Benker once again makes assumptions that conservatives won't vote for green initiatives. Forgetting that Alex Sammoury, a candidate labeled as conservative, is huge on green initiatives. And had support from both sides of political parties.And won.

Statements like that are why Ms Benker lost the election. She was out of touch with a majority of Longmont voters. And the ones who knew her record didn't like what they saw.

I also think it's so funny how Boulder Weekly titles an article about green initiatives aren't going to get support and then slaps a picture of Katie Witt in it. So, Katie Witt is to be held responsible for any failure of green initiatives?

You also mentioned open space in the same article, but had you really been following Katie Witt during her campaign, you would have read  that she liked the recent purchase of open space out in eastern Longmont, but didn't like how we aren't going to be able to pay for it down the road.

It's about dollars and sense...yes, dollars and SENSE. Not whether a conservative labeled candidate is for or against green initiatives. We all like pretty open spaces, but at what cost. I voted for the candidates that recognized that. Not based on party affiliation.




Karen Benker, again, is wrong.  Back when she ridiculed Witt for announcing too early, Witt was setting up a network of volunteers and a strong ground game.  It wasn't just the doors she got to knock on, it was also all the volunteers who canvassed nearly every precinct in the ward.  This had nothing to do with "big money" as there was none coming in at that point, and there was no Longmont Leadership or Western Tradition Partnership as part of the picture.  There was no Federal lawsuit against the campaign law yet, there were no slick mailers or robocalls yet.  The doors that were knocked on or fliers dropped off at were of all affiliations, not just "conservatives" or Republicans. 

Ms. Benker can try all she wants to spin this as big money got her ousted, if it makes her feel better.  The truth however is something entirely different.  She lost, like many candidates lose, because she was far from the better candidate, had an awful track record as an elected official, and ran a lousy campaign.  Simple as that.