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The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

How to take stock of your local ballot in 2021

Ballot+Boy+by+Brenden+Vigil+for+The+Today.
‘Ballot Boy’ by Brenden Vigil for The Today.

Election 2021 voter guide

By Zoe Schimke and William Redmond-Palmer

 It’s that time of the season: Once more, Colorado is holding statewide elections, and ballots will soon be in the hands of all registered voters. You, dear reader, could very well be one of them, and have the privilege of choosing some of the city’s leaders; not to mention having a hand in making some important decisions this year regarding the legislative authority for spending money (Amendment 78), the potential creation of a learning enrichment program (Proposition 119) and the potential reduction in property tax assessment rates (Proposition 120).  

Don’t throw away that ballot! You should think about the fact that the municipal government, as trivial as it seems, has the biggest impact on your daily life. Even if these ballot issues are about things you’re not personally invested in, the decisions of today will impact your future. These are the people who get to decide things like how your city is built, what kind of cars you can drive and even whether or not you can have pets. It’s worth having a hand in making those decisions and participating in the civic process.  

As hard as it seems to imagine (depending on your age), voting matters, so let’s get you up to speed on what you’re going to see on the ballot this year, what it means, and how you can make sure that your voice is heard.  

 

Do I get to vote?  

The first question you’ll need answered is how you can actually make it happen – facilitating the physical ability to cast a ballot. You’ll need to ask yourself some questions. 

Are you at least 18 years old, or will you be by Election Day on Nov. 2? Are you an American citizen? Have you lived in Colorado since at least Monday, October 11? If your answer to all of these questions is yes, congratulations: You are eligible to register to vote.  

 

How do I do that?  

There are a few different avenues you could take. If you already have a Colorado drivers’ license or state ID card, you can register online at govotecolorado.com. This is also where you can go to confirm your voter registration, and make sure that details like party affiliation and your physical address are correct.  

If you don’t have either one of those forms of ID, you can get a registration form on the secretary of state’s website, the county clerk’s election website and federal post offices.  

You’ll have to act quickly, though – ballots will be mailed out between Oct. 8 and 16. 

 

Sending off your ballot!

Once your ballot is completely filled out and you’re ready to turn it in, there are a number of ways to do it. You can put a stamp on it and mail it in, but you have to make sure that it’s received by 7 p.m. on election night in order for it to be counted. 

 If you’ve missed the window to mail it in, don’t despair – there are places to drop off any ballots you haven’t had the chance to stick in the mail. Here’s a shortlist of ballot drop-off locations near or convenient to campus:  

  • Pueblo County Courthouse (Rotunda on first floor), 215 W. 10th St .
  • Patrick A. Lucero Library, 1315 E. Seventh St.

And some 24-hour secure outdoor ballot drop-off locations:  

  • Pueblo County Election Office (back of building), 720 N. Main St.  
  • Pueblo County Courthouse (east side of building), 215 W. 10th St.  
  • Colorado State Fair (outside of gate on Prairie), 950 S. Prairie Ave. 
  • Lamb Branch Library, 2525 S. Pueblo Blvd.  
  • Pueblo Rural Fire, 29912 U.S.50 East. 
  • Pueblo County Sheriff’s Substation (Pueblo West), 320 E. Joe Martinez Blvd. 
  • CSU Pueblo, 2200 Bonforte Blvd., outside the admin building. 
  • PCC, 900 W. Orman Ave.

 There is also a secure outdoor drive-up location at the Pueblo County Courthouse (wise side, Court Street), 215 W. 10th St.  

The municipal government, as trivial as it seems, has the biggest impact on your daily life. Even if these ballot issues are about things you’re not personally invested in, the decisions of today will impact your future. 

Who’s running in Pueblo’s municipal elections this year? 

It is an off year for mayoral elections, so seemingly not as groundbreaking as a municipal election could possibly be, but the positions listed on the ballot this year are arguably just as important. There are currently two open at-large seats for Pueblo City Council, and one seat each open for Districts 1, 3 and 4. All of the city council seats will serve four-year terms, except in the case of District 4. The winner of that race will fill out the rest of the late Councilor Ray Aguilera’s term for the next two years.  

There are two positions open on the Water Board and one on the Civil Service Commission. Each of these are six-year terms ending on Dec. 31, 2027, and all city electors are eligible to vote on these candidates.  

Contesting for the at-large city council positions this year are Heather Graham, Mark Aliff and Dennis Flores.  

District 1 candidates are Robert D. Schilling Jr., Elvis Martinez and Regina Maestri. For District 3, Lucretia Robinson, Laura Moreschini, Sarah Martinez and Jody Voss are competing; and the District 4 candidates include Vicente Martinez Ortega, Todd Rogers and Brandon Martin.  

The Water Board candidates are Tom Autobee and Sam Krage, and at the time of publication, according to all available evidence, Sharon Bonner is running for the Civil Service Commission uncontested.  

 

What are the major ballot issues?  

Most of the major ballot issues this year involve city or state money – one is an amendment, two are propositions.  

The amendment, Amendment 78, has to do with the creation of a new fund for ‘custodial money’ – and whether state agencies should retain the power to spend custodial money over the state legislature.  

  • A YES vote on Amendment 78 would mean that all custodial spending would be transferred to the control of the state legislature, not the agencies, and that a new fund would be created for that custodial money.  
  • A NO vote on Amendment 78 would mean that state agencies would continue to spend custodial money without appropriation by the state legislature. 

One of the propositions, Prop. 119, is about whether or not to increase annual state taxes on marijuana sales, and then use that extra money to create a learning enrichment program.  

  • A YES vote on Prop 119 will fund financial aid for tutoring and other out-of-school enrichment and instruction through an increase in retail marijuana taxes and transfers from existing state funds.  
  • A NO vote on Prop 119 means the program will not be created and funded.  

The other proposition, Prop. 120, asks you whether or not there should be a reduction in property tax assessment rates. It would only affect property tax assessment for multifamily housing – not other types of residential and nonresidential property. 

  • A YES vote would lower property tax assessment rates for multifamily housing and lodging properties.  
  • A NO vote on Prop 120 retains the current assessment rates for multifamily housing properties that are currently enumerated in the law. 

All three of these issues were placed on the ballot by citizen initiative, and all three require a majority vote to pass. 

Pueblo City voters will also have Ballot Issue No. 2A to consider.  

  • A vote FOR the issue, 2A permits the City to retain and spend $576,609 in current funds but only for street repairs and road improvements. For future years, 2A permits the city to keep the full amount of tax revenues received, with the city’s commitment of spending a minimum of $5,000,000 annually for needed street maintenance and repairs and road improvements. It does not impose any new tax or increase the rate of any existing tax. If 2A passes, any new tax or any increase in the rate of any existing tax must still be approved by the voters of the City of Pueblo. 
  • No comments AGAINST the ballot issue were filed by the constitutional deadline.  
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