Election judge Shirley Seely, a former Craig city clerk, puts stubs from election ballots into numerical order Tuesday afternoon at Moffat County Courthouse as the Craig city election winds to a close. Student election judge Evan Cramer-Wagner, a Moffat County High School senior, prepares ballots to be tallied by a machine. "I enjoy our democratic process and I like to see how everything works," Cramer-Wagner said.

Photo by Lauren Blair

Election judge Shirley Seely, a former Craig city clerk, puts stubs from election ballots into numerical order Tuesday afternoon at Moffat County Courthouse as the Craig city election winds to a close. Student election judge Evan Cramer-Wagner, a Moffat County High School senior, prepares ballots to be tallied by a machine. "I enjoy our democratic process and I like to see how everything works," Cramer-Wagner said.

Craig election 2017: Tax measure fails, Ponikvar wins mayor, Camp top winner in council race

Camp, Bohrer and Nichols win in council election — Ogden stays in with 4th highest vote

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— The Craig city election wrapped Tuesday night with a win for new mayor, John Ponikvar, and a loss for the city sales and use tax measure.

The tax measure failed by 592 votes, with 63 percent of voters saying "no" to the tax increase. Of 2,286 vote cast on the ballot issue, only 847 voted in favor while 1,439 voted against.

A total of 2,349 votes were tallied, amounting to almost exactly 50 percent of ballots returned.

The winners of the three open Craig City Council seats were:

• Andrea Camp with 1,727, or 27 percent, of total votes cast,

• Tony Bohrer with 1,033, or 16 percent, of votes,

• and Chris Nichols with 881, or 14 percent, of votes.

This will be Tony Bohrer's second term on city council.

A fourth city council seat was filled by incumbent Jarrod Ogden, the fourth-highest vote getter by a narrow margin with 749 votes. Dave DeRose came in a close fifth with 735 votes. City council candidate Bill Johnston clinched 669 votes and Rod Compton garnered 571.

The fourth council seat was vacated by Ponikvar, who served on council for one term before winning this year’s mayoral race.

"We're changing the direction for Craig," Ponikvar said. "We're gonna move forward with a different kind of economy."

The mayoral race went handily to Ponikvar with 1,338 votes in his favor, or 58 percent of votes cast, compared to 959 votes for mayoral candidate Joe Bird. Bird is currently serving his second term on Craig City Council and will retain his seat.

The sales and use tax measure would have raised city sales tax by 1.25 percent to a rate of 3.5 percent, and would have created a use tax of 3.5 percent on vehicles purchased outside the city. Had it passed, it would have generated an estimated $2.5 million in revenue for the city.

"It's not the end of the world. We're still going to make Craig a beautiful city," said City Manager Mike Foreman. "We start meeting first thing in the morning with staff, and start coming up with a plan for next year."

The city is facing a $1 million deficit in 2018 based on current projections.

"I'm disappointed we didn't get the tax passed," Ponikvar said. "We'll come back with something that's more palatable to voters because this tax is critical to maintain service and to build infrastructure so we can help build the community."

The newly elected council members will join current council members Derek Duran and Bird, whose seats will be up for re-election in 2019.

With the fate of the tax measure decided, the new mayor and city council will start setting budget priorities as soon as they're sworn in and seated April 25. Outgoing city council member Kent Nielson will say goodbye at the April 11 meeting.

Comments

Tammy Showalter 2 weeks, 6 days ago

combining the sales tax request with the use tax on the ballot killed it for me. Implementing a vehicle use tax says something about local dealers.

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Mark Jacobson 2 weeks, 6 days ago

I am really pleased Ponikvar won the mayoral race. His message resonated with many voters, including myself, and I look forward to seeing what he can do. I don't mind raising the city revenue somewhat, but having leadership that's prepared to take accountability should be the starting point. Keeping the status quo shouldn't be the basis for a tax hike and new tax.

Congratulations to Andrea Camp, Tony Bohrer, Chris Nichols, and Jarrod Ogden. I truly hope this city council will take the message from the voters loud and clear. Pay special attention, Joe Bird was pretty candid that he wanted several new taxes, and he lost this election...the same election that saw 1A fail. If you value democracy and the moral epithets it espouses, you will do more outreach before putting together a proposition that's doomed to fail. Many people vehemently opposed the notion of a use tax over the past year. The results should come as no surprise. If the city council can constructively work with the constituents we might arrive at a better situation than the outright "NO!" we just had today.

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