Grand Lake voters give slight edge to Glenn Harrington for mayor
April 2, 2008
Grand Lake mayoral candidate Glenn Harrington squeaked ahead of Mayor Judy Burke by two votes to win the election, according to unofficial results released by 10 p.m. Tuesday night.
Harrington heard the news while waiting at the Bear’s Den after a Grand Lake Rotary meeting.
“It was a very honorable race,” he said. “The unity that Judy and I both wanted for the town was illustrated in the campaigning. It was a very exciting experience, and I’m humbled that I did win the election at this point.”
Harrington secured 88 votes to Burke’s 86, and mayoral candidate Russ Martin obtained six votes.
Burke, who has lived in Grand Lake 30 years, awaited the tally surrounded by supporters at the Lariat Saloon, where another former 20-year mayor, Gene Stover, had poised for victory celebrations as far back as the 1980s.
Burke’s perspective on the campaign differed from Harrington’s.
“I’m very disappointed,” she said after hearing her effort ended up two votes shy. “I think some of the campaigning went beyond the limits of ethics.”
Burke, owner of ERA Grand Realty Inc., has been on Grand Lake’s town board as a trustee, then mayor, since 1988. She was elected mayor to fill Stover’s seat in 2004.
In the trustee races, incumbent Kathy Lewis will return to the town board table with 129 votes, candidate Elmer Lanzi and write-in candidate Benton Johnson will fill the seats vacated by Trustees Pat Engelhardt and Glenn Harrington.
Harrington had been elected to the town board in 2004.
Lanzi had 112 votes, Johnson had 89, both out-competing Joanne Jewell, with 79 votes and Gary Gates, with 42 votes.
Voter turnout was high.
“The best I think I’ve ever seen,” said Town Clerk Ronda Kolinske. Of the 413 registered voters, 183 marked ballots, amounting to 44 percent of the electorate.
Going into the election, Kolinske was impressed by the great number of absentee ballots sent back to the town. As many as 105 ballots were counted from absentee voters.
In the 2004 mayoral election, out of 459 voters, 148 people voted, equating to 32 percent of the voter population.
The trustee election in 2006 saw 20 percent voter turnout.
Harrington originally moved to Grand Lake in 1960 as a Rocky Mountain National Park naturalist. After moving away, he returned to Grand Lake in 1983. He and wife Melva have lived in the town both part-time and full-time for the past 25 years.
During his upcoming term, Harrington plans to support efforts to ensure water quality in the state’s largest natural lake, Grand Lake, and explore solutions to create workforce housing, take on a positive role for Grand Lake’s business community politically and legislatively and seek out ways to replant trees in a town that has suffered great loss from the mountain pine beetle epidemic.
The mayor-elect said he couldn’t have achieved the victory without those who helped him with his campaign and without the support of his wife and family.
“I’m looking forward to a great four years,” he said.
He commended all the candidates, those who won and those who didn’t, for not only stepping up to run for office but for their dedication to the town.
“It’s not about me, it’s about the town,” he said.
Before the results are made official, another recount will be conducted due to the tight margin, said Town Clerk Kolinske.
” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail email@example.com.