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Election: VanderWerf, Lee prevail; D-11 seeks input after ballot items fail

Workers frame a new wall by Howbert Elementary's main entrance as part of construction related to the school's four-classroom addition in 2010. Two more classrooms at Howbert - one for tutoring, one for special education - would have been part of the bond issue (3D) that was defeated by voters in the Nov. 8 election.
Westside Pioneer file photo
In the two Nov. 8 election races affecting the Westside, Republican Stan VanderWerf was elected the new El Paso County commissioner for District 3, and incumbent Democrat Pete Lee won a fourth term as state representative for District 18.
       Also, voters rejected both new-tax ballot requests (3C and 3D) by School District 11. The $250 million bond issue (3D) would have included a plan to upgrade or replace the 1924 building that houses West Elementary and Middle Schools. The district has started a process to get feedback on what went wrong (see below).

       County Commissioner District 3
       VanderWerf defeated Democrat candidate Electra Johnson by a vote margin of about 53 to 47 percent. He will serve a four-year term. In January, when he's sworn in, he will replace fellow Republican Sallie Clark, who had served 12 years.
       In a post-election interview, VanderWerf said he is “excited” at the opportunity and one of his first steps (already under way) is meeting with county staff.
New District 3 County Commissioner Stan VanderWerf.
Courtesy photo
“There's a lot I want to accomplish, so I need to find out what's been done,” he commented.
       Economic revitalization was a byword of his campaign, and as part of that he pledged his support to the Westside's long-awaited $30.9 million “No Man's Land” upgrade project along Colorado Avenue west of 31st Street, which is expected to break ground in December.
       District 3 covers western El Paso County, including the Westside, Manitou Springs, Green Mountain Falls and the Air Force Academy.

       State Representative District 18
       With over 53 percent of the vote, Lee bested Republican Cameron Forth (over 39 percent) and Libertarian Norman Dawson (over 7 percent). He will serve a two-year term - his fourth and last, because of the state's term limits.
       In a post-election write-up, Lee thanked his supporters and “over 400 contributors.” He said that with the Legislative Session starting Jan. 11, he will be meeting before that “with constituents and others with interest in legislation.”
       As a Democrat, he also shared that he was “surprised and disappointed by the results of the national election” and said he expects a “period of significant uncertainty as the change of administration takes effect,” and he called on his
Re-elected District 18 State Representative Pete Lee.
Courtesy photo
supporters to “reaffirm our solidarity with those who feel unwelcome and threatened because of their religion, nationality, ethnic background or gender identification.”
       District 18 includes Manitou Springs and the older Westside generally south of King Street, as well as the downtown and near eastside.

       School District 11
       The 3C ballot item was for a permanent property-tax override to cover continuing costs related largely to equipment, staffing and security. 3D, a bond-issue request, was focused on facilities upgrades throughout the district. Proposed on the Westside (along with the West building project noted at the top of this article), were additions to Howbert and Jackson elementaries.
       The ballot losses prompted D-11 Superintendent Nick Gledich to ask citizens for guidance. “In the days, weeks and months ahead, the Board of Education and I will be seeking to gain feedback from community members so we may determine what, specifically, in the plans was undesirable to our voters,” he said in a public letter. “It will be important for the community to come together to provide the direction for the district to take on how to improve the education and safety of our students.”
       He continued, “We know that our facility and state funding issues will not go away and look forward to working with the community to create a legacy of good schools for today's students and generations to come.”
       Gledich asked citizens to fill out a feedback form at d11.org/Vision2030 - anonymously, if so desired.
       School District 11 covers much of Colorado Springs, with the general exception of the Cheyenne and Briargate areas.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 11/16/16; Politics: City/County & State/Region)

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