Longmont City Council eyes date for special election

·4 min read

Dec. 2—Longmont will be looking for a third-party vendor to assist with a special election to fill a vacancy on city council, after city leaders voted unanimously Tuesday night to determine when and how the election would occur.

Council members said they want to see the election occur as soon as possible. The third-party vendor will be asked to complete the process on or before April 5, 2022.

The vacancy was created when former at-large councilmember Joan Peck was elected mayor. Peck was inducted into her new role on Nov. 8. A two-year term remains in the at-large city council seat. This situation leaves Longmont council with six members, instead of seven. Those members are Peck, Mayor Pro Tem Aren Rodriguez and councilmembers Tim Waters, Susie Hidalgo-Fahring, Marcia Martin and Shiquita Yarbrough.

Accompanying Tuesday's agenda was a council communications form. The background information said the city "is not equipped nor staffed to administer elections due to our long history coordinating with (Boulder) County."

While for many years the city has contracted or coordinated with Boulder and Weld counties' clerk and recorder offices for City Council elections, that isn't an option for this situation, the Times Call reported in November.

The counties are not available because clerks are in the process of changing election precinct maps to comply with new congressional and state legislative district maps. Those maps must be implemented by county clerks across the state in early 2022, in order to be prepared for the primary election on June 28 next year.

Mircalla Wozniak, spokesperson for the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder's Office, said redistricting is a "major issue," in running the special election.

"This is because work needs to be done statewide in the SCORE address library by Jan. 29 by statute (SCORE is the statewide voter registration database)," Wozniak wrote in an email Wednesday.

Wozniak said the county consulted with the Secretary of State to see whether there was a way to simultaneously have an active election and do redistricting work.

"The answer was no," Wozniak wrote. "Because there is just one address library, it's not possible to have an election set-up and redistricting work done concurrently."

Wozniak said the county provided the city clerk with three potential third-party providers to assist in the election. The city said in its communications that one of those vendors didn't respond, the other was booked and the third option also has been inundated with requests from other agencies, but has helped to provide the city with some general information.

City staff said one option would be to coordinate the special election with Boulder County during the next scheduled general election in November 2022, but that it would leave the seat vacant for many months. Council was opposed to delaying the process.

"If we can get this done as soon as possible, let's do it," Hidalgo-Fahring said.

City staff is now working to issue a request for proposal to find vendors to conduct the special election via mail-in ballot. The projected cost to hire a third-party vendor to assist in the election is about $250,000, city staff said Tuesday night.

Juneteenth discussion

Longmont City Council members on Tuesday also said they were on board with making Juneteenth a paid city holiday.

Council was asked to provide city staff with guidance.

"I agree with the staff taking that holiday as a federal holiday. I think that's one that should be implemented as well for staff," Yarbrough said.

Joanne Zeas, Longmont's chief human resources officer, said after the direction from city council that she will be drafting an amendment to the city's designated paid holidays ordinance. That proposal will be taken back to council for approval.

Juneteenth is a holiday that commemorates June 19, 1865, when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to tell enslaved people that they were free.

In June this year, Congress approved a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden on June 18. Longmont in July approved a resolution to recognize the significance of Juneteenth as a holiday.

Council also ruled 5-to-1 Tuesday to move from in-person to remote meetings, stemming from concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

The next meeting will occur virtually at 7 p.m. Dec. 7. Residents will be able to watch the live stream of the council meeting via the city's website. The live stream will include instructions about when and how people can call in for public comment.

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