Few voters, close election in Oak Creek
Lawrence Jaconetta edges Linda Price for final Town Board seat
April 6, 2010
Oak Creek — Nikki Knoebel elected mayor 2-year term, 108 votes
Dawn Smith elected 4 years, 98 votes
Bernie Gagne elected 4 years, 108 votes
Johrene Meyers-Story elected 4 years, 103 votes
Lawrence Jaconetta elected 2 years, 74 votes
Linda Price not elected, 72 votes
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Total voters: 138
All three of Oak Creek's current Town Board members will remain in power after Tuesday's municipal election in the South Routt County town. They'll be joined by two newcomers.
Only 138 Oak Creek residents voted Tuesday, and they affirmed the seats of trustees Bernie Gagne and Dawn Smith. Trustee Nikki Knoebel, who ran unopposed for mayor, will take over for J Elliott.
Newcomers Johrene Meyers-Story and Lawrence Jaconetta also were elected Tuesday.
The only candidate not elected was Linda Price, who was two votes short of claiming a board seat.
From the total of 138 voters, Knoebel received 108 votes, Gagne 108, Meyers-Story 103, Smith 98 and Jaconetta 74. Price got 72 votes.
There were 242 votes cast in the most recent municipal election in 2008. Town Clerk Karen Halterman said there are about 490 registered voters in Oak Creek.
Halterman and vote counters Bob Johnson and David Reid recounted Tuesday's ballots several times, Halterman said, because of the close result between Jaconetta and Price.
Reached by phone Tuesday night, Jaconetta said the result was "awesome." To celebrate the victory he said he would enjoy riding fresh powder at the ski area today.
When asked what his priority will be as he joins the Town Board, Jaconetta said, "I guess we'll find out on Thursday" — the day he and his fellow trustees will be sworn in. The Town Board will hold its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at Town Hall.
Price said she respected that the election and its result was all part of the democratic process, and she hopes to find other ways to create change in Oak Creek.
"I have some ideas I hope I can kind of stir up, some ideas that might help with businesses in town, and you don't necessarily have to be on the board to do that," she said.
Price said she hopes to work with people in the town to find new ways to draw business to Oak Creek.
"Basically (I want to work with) business owners or building owners, mainly on Main Street, to see if there are any ways we can make the businesses more attractive for people to stop to bring in a little more money," she said. "You can't do everything with nothing."
Knoebel's term as mayor will last two years. All of the trustees will have four-year terms, except for Jaconetta, who will serve two years because he was the lowest vote-getter of the four.
In the trustees race, Smith and Gagne were up for re-election after they were appointed to the board in recent months. Smith was appointed to the board in November to replace Dave Fisher, who resigned. Gagne was appointed in November to replace Gerry Greenwood, who also resigned. Gagne also ran for the Town Board in 2008 but did not win a seat.
Meyers-Story, Price and Jaconetta were running for the first time.
Knoebel also was appointed to the board in October to replace Dave Ege, who resigned for health reasons.
Trustee Josh Voorhis and Mayor J Elliott did not run for re-election. Trustees Chuck Wisecup and Wendy Gustafson were not up for election this year.
Halterman said the polls were slow in the morning but picked up in the afternoon and as people got off work. She said 130 ballots were sent to voters by mail, and only 64 were returned. Another 74 people voted at the Oak Creek Town Hall poll. One ballot was rejected because the voter wrote in a fictitious name and did not vote for any of the candidates.
Halterman said the weather — blowing, gusty wind and snow — could have played a role in the low turnout.
"Even though the turnout was far less than the last election it was good to see the community turn out to the polls, whether in person or through their mail-in ballot, to support the democratic process," she said.
She said that during the last election, the town's controversial police force and policing policies drew voters to the polls.
"I suppose there were no glaring issues that presented themselves," Halterman said.
— To reach Zach Fridell, call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org