Primary races uncontested

Neither Democrat nor Republican candidates running against incumbents

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— Voters who make it out to the polls for this year's Routt County primary race won't have to think too hard.

There are no contested races in either the Democratic or Republican races.

Federal and state races are never contested in the primary election, but usually there is at least one county position that gives voters a chance to choose.

This year, the only candidates for county positions are Republican incumbents.

The county surveyor position has neither a Republican nor Democratic candidate, but incumbent Ridgway "Skidg" Moon, who is unaffiliated, has been approved as a write-in candidate and will be on the general election ballot in November.

As far as local residents can remember, there has not been a completely uncontested primary election for at least the past three decades.

"I think it's a waste of time and money," said Marda Frazer, who is working as an election judge this year and has done so for the past 10 years. "If we have nobody coming in, then it will not be fun. I will not be looking forward to this one."

Frazer will spend about 14 hours at an election poll on Aug. 13 starting at 6:30 a.m. She is one of 61 election judges this year.

Kay Weinland, county clerk and recorder who is running again this year as the Republican candidate for that position, said county officials have held discussions about whether to hold the election.

But because there is no statutory provision that allows a county to cancel a primary election, the county must hold the election, Weinland said.

There are such provisions for special district elections, such as school districts, or municipal elections.

"It does seem like a huge, tremendous waste of taxpayer assets to me," Weinland said. "But we still have to have an election and we still have to go through all the processes even if there are no races."

Weinland said each election costs taxpayers in the county about $15,000 to $20,000. It also costs local officials and residents time organizing the event and calculating the results.

The best election to compare this year's primary to would be the primary of 1998, an even-year election that was not a presidential election. In that year, Weinland said there was 11 percent voter turnout for the primary and a 46 percent voter turnout in the general election. There are about 16,000 registered voters in Routt County.

"It's not going to change the outcome if people do or don't vote," Weinland said about this year's primary.

But she said she encourages residents to go vote if they have a chance.

"Because we are having an election, I say I feel like people should vote even though their vote isn't really making any difference in the results," Weinland said. "It's a support of the system and a statement of democracy."

County Commissioner Doug Monger, a Democrat, agreed voting in the primary this year doesn't do much.

"It's a voice of patriotism and that's about it," Monger said.

But he said he will still take the time to vote.

"Yes, definitely," he said when asked if he will vote in the primary. "I figure that if people have the time to go be down at the election booth to count my ballot, and if we're paying to have the process to enable the democracy, then I think it's worth my time to facilitate that democracy."

Routt County Democratic Chairman Ben Beall said he wasn't sure whether he'd make it out to the polls for the primary.

"I don't know what I have to vote for," Beall said. "I vote in every election just because I'm an addict, but I have to look at this year's ballot."

He said residents should pay attention to the issues and be sure to vote in the general election, but he thought holding a primary in the county when there are no contested races is a waste of time and money.

Beall also said the political process suffers from the lack of competition for positions.

"I think it's definitely negative for the political process when elections aren't contested because then there's little discussion about the issues," Beall said. "There are lots of issues out there, and when the issues are discussed at election time, the general populace gets educated, so you lose that opportunity."

Olive Morton, chairwoman of the Routt County Republicans, said she wouldn't encourage people to vote in the primary.

"When there's nothing to vote on, I don't think I'd encourage them to go out and vote on the primary," Morton said.

She said the fact that there are no challengers for county positions suggests people are happy with the job the incumbents are doing.

"I interpret it as meaning that the people in office are doing a good job and there isn't any big complaint," Morton said. "Otherwise we would have people running against them."

There still is time for residents who want to stir things up and make at least one of this year's county elections a contested race. The last date to become a certified write-in candidate is Sept. 6.

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