Craig City Council solidifies April election plans | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig City Council solidifies April election plans

Craig City Council members meet to approve an emergency ordinance to contract with Moffat County to hold the April 2 municipal election.

During a special meeting Thursday, Feb. 7, the Craig City Council finalized plans to hold the April 2 municipal election after it was recently imperiled by a lack of training.

The Craig Press reported in January that the Moffat County Clerk and Recorder’s office would likely not be able to conduct the election, a development that left city officials scrambling to contract election services.

According to Craig Mayor John Ponikvar, only three officials in the Clerk and Recorder’s office were trained to conduct municipal elections: former Clerk and Recorder Lila Herod, who left office earlier this month, former Elections Coordinator Tori Pingley, and former Deputy Election Clerk Amanda Tomlinson, both of whom recently resigned.

Serena Woods, communications director for the Colorado Secretary of State's office, and Judd Choate, state election director, said Moffat County Clerk and Recorder Tammy Raschke is a certified election official, but conducting municipal elections requires additional specialized training neither Raschke nor her staff had undergone. Choate said he has been working with Raschke to expedite the training and to identify certified personnel who may be contracted for the upcoming Craig election.

Woods agreed, saying Craig and Moffat County can count on support from the state.

"We're going to do everything we can to expedite training and make sure she (Raschke) has access to other people who have the knowledge to get this election back on track," Woods said.

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Raschke said both she and Debbie Winder — whose promotion to serve as Raschke's chief deputy was approved Jan. 22 by the Moffat County Board of County Commissioners — have been undergoing specialized election training that will enable them to conduct future municipal elections.

Raschke wasn't sure if she and Winder would complete the training in time to conduct the April 2 election, but now, city officials say the Colorado Secretary of State helped provide Moffat County with the election services it needs.

During Thursday’s special meeting, an emergency ordinance was introduced that would make provisions for the April 2 election.

City Attorney Sherman Romney said approving Thursday’s ordinance and the council's second item of business — approving an intergovernmental agreement between the Craig and Moffat County for the April election — would ensure the city election will take place legally.

Romney said the city’s intergovernmental agreement with Moffat County stipulates the city will pay any overtime by county clerk employees, along with the costs of any ballots cast. The agreement includes the use of the county’s modern voting machines, Romney said.

The last municipal election, also held under an agreement with Moffat County, cost the city about $23,000, according to Romney.

“It looks like it's going to be pretty similar," the city attorney said Thursday.

Ponikvar said partnering with Moffat County is what Craig residents are used to.

“I certainly think this is the right thing to do,” the mayor added.

Council unanimously approved both the emergency ordinance and the intergovernmental agreement with Moffat County.

Jim Patterson contributed to this report. Contact Clay Thorp at 970-875-1795 or cthorp@craigdailypress.com.