Where were the Grand Lake voters?
April 15, 2010
GRAND LAKE – Town clerk Ronda Kolinske figured this year’s election was bound to be less exciting than the contentious mayoral election of 2008, when 44 percent of the electorate voted.But only 24 voters?”I thought the ballot questions would bring more voters,” she said.The 24 voters -5.5 percent of the electorate of 430 registered voters -passed two questions on the ballot that will allow the town to publish town payables on the town website (not in the newspaper) and print other town business in the newspaper by title only, with the complete text to be printed on the town’s website or available at town hall. The questions passed 20-3 and 21-2 respectively.Ten of the voters participated in early voting and 14 voters went to the polls on election day.Kolinske guessed Grand Lake’s voter apathy stemmed from having snowy weather on election day, three uncontested trustee seats, and an election that took place during spring break.”A lot of people are gone,” Kolinske said. Although several businesses are still open, a number of Grand Lake businesses are closed this off-season.But did anyone from “John Q. Public” vote? Just for fun, if you factor in the seven individuals who most likely voted – those who serve on the Grand Lake board of trustees plus three members of the planning commission, plus possibly nine of their spouses and then a couple of individuals who work for the town – that leaves roughly three other people who bothered to vote.”I just don’t think there was much interest,” Kolinske said. In the 2006 regular municipal election, the last non-presidential election year, 85 people voted, reflecting 20 percent of an electorate of 422 voters. In that election, there were five people running for three seats on the town board.Grand Lake’s newest trusteeLongtime trustees Jim Peterson and Tom Weydert were re-elected to their posts, and joining them is the newest addition to the town board, David Gibbons, who was elected with eight votes via a write-in candidacy.A Texas gas and oil investor, Gibbons, originally from Dallas, has a second home in Jupiter, Fla., and has lived in Grand Lake for seven years.The Notre Dame and Cornell University alum is the past president of the North American Property Investment Corporation, where for 12 years he specialized in acquisitions and commercial property management for Middle Eastern and European clients with holdings throughout the U.S. A grandfather, Gibbons serves as a member of Rotary, is an NRA member, and is a member of the Urban Land Institute and the National Association of Industrial & Office Parks.For other public services, he has served as the campaign manager for Republican candidates in local and state offices in New Jersey and has been on chamber of commerce boards, he said, but it will be his first time serving on a municipal board.”I’m interested in doing what’s right for the town,” he said, adding that an important ingredient to democracy is to “take an active role in one’s community.”