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Aichele wins treasurer’s race; commissioner’s race still too close to call

More results to be released Thursday; recount likely in Blake, Church contest
Incumbent La Plata County Treasurer Allison Aichele has pulled away from challenger Colton Black to retain her seat as treasurer.

Incumbent La Plata County Treasurer Allison Aichele has pulled away from challenger Colton Black, winning one of the most contested races in the county this year.

In the Nov. 6 election, two races in La Plata County – for commissioner and treasurer – were too close to call.

During the past week, La Plata County Clerk and Recorder Tiffany Parker has been factoring in about 550 potential votes that could sway either election.

On Tuesday, Parker said Aichele’s lead is too great for Black to overcome.

“I feel comfortable calling that one,” Parker said.

Aichele

Aichele, a Democrat, currently leads Black, a Republican, by 252 votes. She has received 13,832 votes to Black’s 13,580 votes.

Black

The race for La Plata County commissioner remained too close to call Tuesday and will likely trigger an automatic recount.

Blake

Incumbent Commissioner Brad Blake, a Republican, held a slim lead on Election Day over Democratic challenger Clyde Church by 47 votes.

Church

However, Church has since taken the lead. He now has 28 votes over Blake, for a total of 13,842 votes to Blake’s 13,814 votes.

Parker said there are still 143 ballots that need to be “cured” – in which voters must resolve issues with their ballot, such as missing signatures, failing to provide proper identification or not signing ballots correctly.

Ballots can be cured in-person at the Clerk’s Office by 4 p.m. Wednesday. Voters can also fix their ballot by email or fax by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.

And, there are about 167 ballots from military and overseas personnel that have not been returned. Parker said those ballots must be received by Wednesday or they won’t be counted.

Another 37 provisional ballots must be verified to make sure eligible electors cast them before they can be counted, Parker said. Those votes will be verified Thursday.

Parker said she will have final vote totals Thursday. But even then, it may be too soon to call a decided victor in the commissioner’s race.

The way it is headed, Parker said the commissioner’s race will trigger an automatic recount. In Colorado, an automatic recount is triggered if the voting difference is one-half of 1 percent.

Parker said if a recount is triggered, she expects it to be complete before Thanksgiving.

Ballot measure 6A, which would increase the mill levy on residential property owners to benefit the Pine River Library, also remained undecided, Parker said.

As of Tuesday, there were 2,378 votes to approve the increase and 2,388 votes against it. Unless the margin changes, the close vote will trigger an automatic recount.

Aichele did not respond to multiple requests seeking comment.

Black wrote in an email: “It is obviously not the result we hoped for, but we knew going in that it is extremely hard to win as a Republican in this county. Unfortunately, we live in an era now where partisan politics matters more than job performance and competency.”

Throughout the campaign, issues at the Treasurer’s Office under Aichele’s tenure, which caused the county to be at higher risk of fraud and pay more for annual audits, were a constant theme.

“We are very grateful for all those who supported us in this endeavor, especially those who crossed the partisan divide to do so,” Black wrote. “And although we are concerned about what these election results mean for the future of La Plata County, we must now move on and re-focus on other endeavors.”

Aichele was first elected in 2014, after longtime treasurer Ed Murray retired.

Blake did not immediately return calls seeking comment Tuesday.

Church said he was surprised to learn he had taken the lead.

“I was sort of the dark horse in this race,” he said. “But there’s still a lot of votes to be counted, and I don’t know if I’ll win or not. But I’m hopeful.”

jromeo@durangoherald.com

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