Voter turnout low in Dinosaur
4 council members, mayor elected Tuesday
April 6, 2010
• Mayor: L.D. Smith, 30 votes
• Council: Toby Cortez, 35 votes
• Council: Richard Blakley, 31 votes
• Council: Benny Lujan, 24 votes
• Council: Wendall Lawrence, 19 votes
Total voters: 47
Forty-seven people turned out to Dinosaur Town Hall on a snowy Tuesday and elected a new mayor and four town council members.
Election board member Lola Lee said the number of ballots cast was low but not the lowest voter turnout the town of about 300 has seen.
"I've worked on election boards for a long time," Lee said. "We usually get more than that."
There are 209 registered voters in Dinosaur, Lee said.
Newly-elected mayor L.D. Smith ran uncontested, receiving 30 votes.
Smith replaces Freda Powell, who did not seek an additional term.
Powell was first elected in 2006, receiving 74 of 78 votes.
Five candidates ran for four open town council seats.
Toby Cortez (35 votes), Richard Blakely (31 votes), Benny Lujan (24 votes) and Wendall Lawrence (19 votes) were elected to the council positions.
Candidate Jerry Jeffrey was the only candidate who did not receive a seat.
Elected officials will be sworn in at the next town meeting.
Smith said he is looking forward to being sworn in and taking on issues brought to him by his constituents.
"Folks are really cool here; they're really nice," Smith said. "I've had a lot of people come up to me in the last few weeks and say, 'Smitty, when you're mayor, you should really do this.' I get that a lot, and it's usually really good stuff. Not big expensive stuff, but little things."
He said one of the first things he plans to do is locate and mark all of the water valves around town.
Currently, there are water valves that control the town's supply on almost every street, but no one knows where they are, Smith said.
Whenever there is a leak — about four or five times a year, Smith said — water is turned off for the entire town.
He said he wants to authorize an expenditure to have the valves marked so if someone in the community has a leak, they can manage it with one of the several valves to avoid affecting the whole town.
Another minor change will be to mark the end of a dead-end road, which Smith said people often drive right over the edge of and blaze their own road back to U.S. Highway 40.
Aside from a few minor issues, Smith ensured that life in the small town would remain almost exactly the same.
"Freda did a pretty good job on a lot of stuff," Smith said. "She doesn't always get credit for that, but she did. If we just maintain what we got, and have those clean-up days and all that stuff, I'm going to leave it up to the folks, and they know that."
He said he hopes to see a good turnout at council meetings despite low voter participation this election.
However, if there is a big decision to be made, he plans to leave it up to the town.
"They're going to have to vote on it," Smith said. "I'm not going to arbitrarily say, 'Let's do this because someone said so.'
"The folks aren't really upset about a lot of stuff."