Rio Blanco expects large turnout

Health district, uncontested races highlight local ballot questions

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Based on past numbers, Rio Blanco County officials are expecting a healthy voter turnout for the November general election, county clerk Nancy Amick said on Friday.

"I'm anticipating a very decent turnout," said Amick, who is one of five uncontested incumbents seeking an additional term in county government. "I wouldn't be surprised if we surpass the state average."

Amick, citing a 67 percent voter turnout in the 2002 general election, and a voter turnout of 87 percent in the 2000 presidential election, said the key question facing a segment of county voters this November revolves around funding allocations for a health service district.

Voters approved forming a health service district for eastern Rio Blanco County in June. Voters in the eastern portion of the county will decide in November on a mill levy to support that district.

The question proposes a 7.28 mill levy to support the district. If the question is approved, the mill levy could not be increased without voter approval.

"I'm thinking there is enough interest in the hospital question to bring out the vote on the local side," Amick said. "I'm thinking we're probably going to hit that 67 percent average."

Incumbents seeking re-election are all Republicans and include Amick, Treasurer Karen Arnold, Assessor Renae T. Neilson, Sheriff Si Woodruff, and Surveyor James W. Joy.

Two other races -- county commissioner and county coroner -- also are uncontested.

Republican Joe F. Collins is seeking the District 1 seat on the Rio Blanco County Commission. Collins will replace county commission chairman Kim Cook, also a Republican.

Deputy coroner Randall C. Cochran is vying to replace long-time coroner Dr. David Eskelson, a physician for 35 years. Eskelson has been the county coroner for 42 years.

Cochran defeated Rangely clinic physician Dr. Wallace Salter in the August primary election to earn the GOP nomination in November. He has 15 years of experience as deputy coroner, eight of which are in Rio Blanco, and owns Cochran Memorial Chapel in Meeker.

Another precursor to strong voter turnout is requests for absentee ballots. Amick said her office has been flooded by those seeking information on absentee voting.

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or jroberts@craigdailypress.com.

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