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Steamboat Springs Incumbent Democratic Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger already was looking ahead to a growing economic recovery here Tuesday night after accepting the congratulations of Republican challenger Tina Kyprios and winning his fourth term in office.
With more than 12,100 votes tallied as of midnight, Monger enjoyed a commanding lead of more than 2,100 votes over Kyprios, a difference of 59 percent to 41 percent.
Monger said although the county's assessed valuation is likely to drop again in 2013, he sees signs of a coming recovery in the building industry. He was pleased to say the draft of the 2013 county budget is set to reverse the 5 percent pay cut county employees have endured for several years.
"I think we've bottomed out on that downward trend," Monger said. "The mandate is for positioning ourselves for recovery so that when it happens, we'll be ready to capitalize on that."
Monger, who came onto the Board of Commissioners in 2000, appeared to have been vulnerable with his traditional base this election cycle because of his stance on permitting oil wells in the county.
Monger voted to put stricter conditions of approval on new oil wells over and above those imposed by the state. In particular, the current commissioners are requiring drilling companies to construct expensive water-quality monitoring wells between some of their oil well pads and downstream domestic water wells.
But after sweeping to victory, he said the county's long debate about how to regulate drilling wasn't really a big factor in the election.
"I think we've already been through the brain damage and we're ready to start harvesting the fruit," Monger said.
Kyprios said she recognized that as a natural introvert she needed to have extended herself more and to meet more people in her election campaign. But she said she will try to remain active in local affairs.
"Probably the biggest thing for me, this has been a tremendous learning experience," she said. "I've learned so much about different areas, and I'll stay involved."
Kyprios frequently had teased Monger on the campaign trail, saying she wanted to ease him into retirement. However, she was serious when she suggested that Monger has been in the job too long.
“Government is designed to ensure a balance between rules and regulations that protect our way of life, and that also promote economic growth,” Kyprios wrote in a letter to the Steamboat Today. “The longer that one works in government, the more government seems like the answer — which is why I believe this job requires turnover.”
Routt County voters didn't see it that way.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com