Join us tonight for
During the primary election, the first results became available around 8:15 p.m.
Below, you can find our tweets from throughout the night and our preview …
There were few shockers in Park County's 2020 general election results.
Local voters shot down a proposed 1% general purpose sales tax by a sizable margin (with close to 61% of voters opposed), but overwhelmingly supported Park County's existing 4% tax on lodging (with almost 72.% over voters opting to renew that tax). Meanwhile, residents rejected a proposal that would have enabled pari-mutuel wagering in the county, with about 59% of voters saying no.
As for individual races, Republican Rachel Rodriguez Williams of Cody is headed to the state House of Representatives after defeating independent candidate Cindy Johnson Bennett of Cody. After picking up more than 77% of the vote, Rodriguez Williams will replace state Rep. David Northrup, R-Powell, in House District 50.
In results that were similar to August's primary election, City of Powell residents chose Geoff Hovivian over James Andrews in Ward 1 and re-elected Lesli Spencer in Ward 3. Spencer had been challenged by Heath Streeter.
Additionally, Powell area voters elected Laura Riley to the Park County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees and re-elected Tracy Morris and Kim Dillivan. Kimberly Condie, meanwhile, lost her seat, coming up less than 100 votes short of Dillivan for the third and final available position on the board.
On the Northwest College Board of Trustees, voters overwhelmingly re-elected Mark Wurzel as a Powell area representative and, in the Cody area, re-elected Bob Newsome and picked Tara Kuipers to join the board.
The Powell hospital district will be getting a couple new faces, as Syd Thompson and Richard Stearns will join Bonita Katz on the board. Thompson also retained his seat on the Crown Hill Cemetery District Board, as did his fellow board members Ben Keller and Bill Metzler.
Meanwhile, Abby Shuler and Neil Christofferson have been added to the board of the Powell-Clarks Fork Conservation District.
In no surprise, Park County broke heavily for President Donald Trump, with a whopping 76.7% of voters (12,802 people) backing the Republican. That was stronger than Trump's performance here in 2016. A total of 3,404 voters (20.4%) cast ballots for former Vice President Joe Biden.
Voter turnout was strong in Park County this year, with 16,797 ballots cast. That's 1,486 more than were cast in the 2016 general election and the highest turnout in county history.
For full results, visit http://parkcountyelections.net/2020electionresults.html. We'll have much more coverage in Thursday's edition of the Tribune.
Below, you can track our earlier coverage.
Here are some things we'll be watching.
1. What will voters make of the taxes that are on the ballot? Local governments are again asking voters to approve a new 1% general purpose sales tax that would boost the flagging budgets of the Park County government, City of Cody, City of Powell and Town of Meeteetse. The last time voters considered a general purpose sales tax, in 2012, it failed by a clear margin, with 60% of voters opposed. We'll see if 2020 is any different.
Also on the ballot is a measure that would continue to assess a 4% tax on local lodging, with the money used to promote the Park County area to tourists. The tax has historically enjoyed pretty strong support, but there's a wrinkle this year. That's because the Legislature created a new 5% statewide tax on lodging, which takes effect in January. Of that new statewide tax, 3% will go to promoting Wyoming as a destination (funding the Wyoming Office of Tourism), with 2% going to county-level promotions (like the Park County Travel Council). It gets confusing, but voters are basically deciding whether they want to add another 2% on top of the new 5% tax (for a total tax of 7%), which would maintain the current 4% lodging tax rate for local promotions. If it fails, the lodging tax in Park County will still rise from 4 to 5% next year, but the Park County Travel Council's share will effectively be halved, from 4 to 2%.
2. What do voters think of pari-mutuel betting? Park County residents are deciding whether they want to legalize another form of gambling, which could bring more slot machine-like devices and, eventually, horse racing to the area. There hasn't been a whole lot of public debate on the proposal, so tonight's results should be revealing.
3. Who will local voters elect? The local races on the general election ballot are not quite as contentious or high-stakes as those that appeared in the primary election. However, there's one contested legislative race in House District 50 — between Republican candidate Rachel Rodriguez-Williams and unaffiliated candidate Cindy Johnson Bennett — plus a host of contested special district races. Those included campaigns for boards governing the Powell and Cody school districts, Northwest College, the Powell hospital, Crown Hill Cemetery and the Powell-Clarks Fork Conservation district.
4. How will President Trump fare in Park County? In the 2016 election, then-candidate Donald J. Trump overwhelmingly 73.6% of the vote, with Democratic candidate Hilary Clinton collecting 16.8%. It's a foregone conclusion that Trump will handily carry the county once again, but the question is whether the president will see a bump or dip in popularity against former Vice President Joe Biden this year.
In July 2017, about six months into the Trump presidency, NBC newsman Tom Brokaw visited Powell and spoke to area voters about their views on the president, wondering if various controversies in the fledgling administration had impacted local residents' opinions. He reported back to MSNBC's Morning Joe program that support for President Trump had not dipped much, if at all, among the roughly 70% of Powell residents who'd voted for him. Brokaw pegged the support at perhaps “69.9%,” adding that “they blame us“ in the media.
Local residents have been flying a plethora of Trump flags and displaying other signs of support for the president in recent weeks — including organizing multiple Trump-supporting caravans from Powell to Cody — but today will provide the first statistical measurement of his support since 2016.
Rural Park County resident and billionaire musician/entreprenuer Kanye West is running for president and cast his ballot in Cody today — writing in his own name — but it would be a surprise if there's a significant write-in vote.
5. How is the turnout? As of Monday, 10,088 Park County residents had cast absentee ballots or voted early, according to elections officials. For context, a total of 15,311 votes were cast in the 2016 general election and only 4,056 absentee ballots. Clearly, more people have decided to vote remotely or early amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but the polls in Powell also appeared busy on Tuesday, which could suggest a strong overall turnout.