From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 6, Number 6 - May 4, 2006
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Steve Smith wins mayor
Dave Smith, Chris House take council seats
by Isabel Rucker

Steve Smith won the hotly contested Pinedale mayoral seat with a strong lead Tuesday, May 2; he will replace retiring Mayor Rose Skinner for the four-year term. Straight-talking Dave Smith came in far ahead of the six other candidates for Pinedale Town Council and Chris House came in second; they will replace Barbara Boyce and Miriam Carlson, also for four-year terms. Since candidate Gary Heuck did not win the mayoral position, he will remain in his town council seat. Nylla Kunard’s town council seat was not up for re-election so she will remain as well. The citizens demanded a change and did not re-elect incumbents.

Pinedale voiced a firm “no” to selling the town’s water rights. The council had asked for public opinion on the issue, with a request for non-binding public comment. The town considered entering into an agreement with the Wyoming Water Development Commission to sell water storage rights in Fremont Lake for use as instream flow in Pine Creek for the price of $10. Ballots showed 229 votes against the sale and 130 for.

A total of 366 Pinedale residents cast votes, a huge jump from the 2004 election when only 37 showed up at the polls when the races were uncontested. This year there were close to 800 registered. Four citizens stepped up to be Pinedale mayoral candidates and seven vied for the two influential town council seats. Pinedale is facing a housing shortage, infrastructure stress, multiple planning and zoning problems, increases in crime, and the general town character is under change. The elected positions demand numerous new responsibilities.

While Pinedale voters turned out en masse for the historic election Tuesday, the day was not without hitches. There was misunderstanding and miscommunication about some voters’ eligibility. Unfortunately, many residents registered in good faith during the 30 days leading up to the election and were turned away from the voting booths on May 2, while those who put off registering until election day were able to cast votes.

Usually the county clerk freezes registrations for the 30 days beforehand and informs residents to register the day of the election, but the Town of Pinedale does not have an ordinance to freeze registrations for the 30 days and town hall did not inform potential voters or the county clerk’s office that if a person registered within the 30 days before May 2, they would not be allowed to cast a vote. Some registered voters were turned away at the polls for having registered, for example, 20 days before rather than the day of the election.

Other Wyoming municipalities have ordinances to freeze registration for the 30 days leading up to the election to avoid some of the voting disorder Pinedale experienced. Citizens could demand new voting ordinances to avoid future problems with registration eligibility.

Although the canvassing board has not finalized the election results, there has been at least one challenge to the outcome of the election.

The town showed a renewed interest in politics with the numerous candidates, high voter turnout and good campaigns. Pinedale’s new mayor and town council members will begin their terms of election on June 1 and citizens can have their voices heard by visiting their elected officials’ offices or by attending one of the two monthly town council meetings held the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 5:30 p.m.

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