So-called swing state voters likely will steal the national spotlight in today’s (Tuesday) race for the U.S. presidency, but here in Park County, it’s solely up to local voters to pick county commissioners, school and college board members, city council members and the sales tax rate for the next four years.
Turnout is expected to be high, and more than a quarter of the county’s nearly 14,500 registered voters have already cast their ballots. Some 4,236 absentee ballots were requested this year. That apparently broke the county’s previous record, set in 2008, by about 30 ballots. Returns of the absentee ballots are lagging a bit behind the pace set in 2008, with 3,735 as of Monday morning. However, “We got a ton in the mail (Monday),” said Park County Clerk Jerri Torczon.
For those who aren’t registered to vote, you can register at your polling place. Just bring a photo ID — like your driver’s license — or bring your Social Security number and another ID.
Powell area residents vote at the Park County Fairgrounds on East Fifth Street (city residents in the small exhibit hall, out-of-town folks in the multi-purpose building), Garland voters head to the Garland Community Church, Ralston residents to the Mountain View Club on Road 18 and Clark citizens cast ballots at the Clark Pioneer Recreation Center.
Polls open at 7 a.m. and stay open until 7 p.m.
Among the highlights on this year’s general election ballot are:
• A proposed 1-cent sales tax that the Powell, Cody, Meeteetse and Park County governments would exclusively use on roads, bridges and other infrastructure. The tax would raise an estimated $6.5 million over the next four years before going before voters again.
• A nine-way race for three Powell school board seats. Sitting Park County School District No. 1 Board chairman Rob McCray is the only incumbent, while Lisa Barrus, David Brown, Jeffrey Easum, Alan Horner, Greg Imhoff, Raquel Schwab, Lynn Stutzman and Todd Voller are making bids to join the board.
• A contest between three Park County Commission contenders for two slots on the board. Commissioner Bucky Hall of Cody seeks a third term, while fellow Republican Lee Livingston of Wapiti and independent candidate Pat Slater of Powell are each asking voters to put them on the commission.
• Four contested races for as many positions on the Northwest College Board of Trustees. Candidates Martin Garhart and Jim Vogt, a former NWC trustee, face off in the Powell district, while Paul Fees, Bob Newsome and current trustee Mark Westerhold battle for two seats in the Cody district. Nada Larsen and Winfred Orrell are each running to represent the Meeteetse district on the board.
• One contested race for the Powell Fire District board. Scott Heny and Samuel Rodriguez are each seeking a seat on the board, while, in a separate race, Roger Easum is unopposed in seeking re-election as a Park County Fire Protection District No. 1 director.
Only one of five city of Powell races has more than one option for voters. That’s in Ward 3, where Josh Shorb, seeking to rejoin the council after a two-year absence, faces Amber Yager. Incumbent councilmen Eric Paul, Jim Hillberry and Floyd Young are all running unopposed, as is current Councilman Don Hillman in his bid for mayor.
Similarly, most of the local legislative races are uncontested. After each defeated three fellow Republicans in August’s primary election, legislative newcomers Dave Blevins of Powell (House District 25) and David Northrup of the Willwood area (House District 50) are poised to cruise into office. Rep. Sam Krone, R-Cody, of House District 24 is also set to win a second two-year term in Cheyenne while Rep. Elaine Harvey, R-Lovell, should win a sixth term from House District 26.
Over in Senate District 18, however, voters have some work left to do. Incumbent Sen. Hank Coe, R-Cody, is facing a write-in bid from Tea Party challenger Bob Berry. That’s a rematch of a close primary election that Coe won by 117 votes, though he enjoys a considerable advantage this time around as the only candidate on the ballot.
In House District 28, which now represents the Meeteetse area, Republican Nathan Winters faces Democrat Connie Skates. Both are from Thermopolis.
Park County voters will also help pick two of Wyoming’s three Congressional representatives. In her bid for a third term, U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., faces challenges from Democrat Chris Henrichsen, Libertarian Richard Brubaker, Constitution Party candidate Daniel Clyde Cummings and Don Willis of the Country Party. U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., faces Democrat Tim Chesnut and Joel Otto of the Country Party as he seeks election to his first full, six-year term.
Of course, local voters will also be casting ballots on the presidential race.
Tribune offering live election coverage
Visitors to the Powell Tribune’s blog — reachable at http://blog.powelltribune.com or via a link at www.powelltribune.com — will get coverage that goes beyond the raw numbers to tell folks what’s going on with the ballot-counting and how local races are shaping up. A Tribune reporter also will be able to respond to visitors’ questions posted on the blog.
For Wyoming’s two Congressional races and the three Constitutional amendments up for voters’ consideration, statewide results will be available on the Secretary of State’s website, http://soswy.state.wy.us.
The polls close at 7 p.m. and the first results typically start becoming available around 8 p.m. The Tribune will begin its online coverage around 7:30 p.m.