An extra day of ballot counting did little to change the outcome of one of the most drawn-out elections in recent memory.
Political newcomer Lisa Czelatdko clinched victory a little after 7 p.m. Wednesday in a tight race for the District 3 seat on the Colorado Springs City Council, edging Michael Merrifield by 338 votes. Czelatdko finished with a mere .7 percent edge out of the 19,942 votes cast in the race.
The final tally brought the waiting in the city’s closest race to an end. Merrifield, an 8-year state representative who also previously served on the Manitou Springs City Council, needed to keep within one-half of one percentage point to force a mandatory recount.
The win likely came as little surprise to Czelatdko. The homemaker and community volunteer claimed victory Tuesday night — and said it was the end of Merrifield’s political career — before the ballots were all counted.
“Voters told him ‘no’ for county commissioner and they’ve told him ‘no’ now for City Council. They need someone serious for this position. I think his time is done as a politician,” she said.
Her remarks came before word from City Clerk Katheryn Young at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday that as many as 10,000 votes of the nearly 90,500 votes cast would be set aside until Wednesday morning.
At the time, Czelatdko held only a 155-vote advantage.
But her status held, as did every other race in this election. Neither she nor Merrifield could be reached Wednesday night.
Richard Skorman and Steve Bach will faceoff in May to become the city’s first strong mayor, garnering 36 and 33 percent of the vote, respectively.
In the at-large race for City Council, the ballots counted Wednesday failed to push Ed Bircham from sixth place into a council seat. Those were won by incumbent Jan Martin and a slew of newcomers: Merv Bennett, Val Snider, Brandy Williams and Tim Leigh.
Bennett’s and Snider’s placements offered the only change from Tuesday’s preliminary results, with Bennett nudging past Snider for second place.
Angela Dougan claimed the District 2 race. Ballot issues 1A and 1B also passed.
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Meet the new city council
• Jan Martin, 60: A consulting business owner and online instructor for the University of Phoenix, the one-term incumbent came in first in the at-large vote Tuesday night and is poised for a leadership role on the council. She lives on the west side.
• Merv Bennett, 62: The former CEO of the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region won in his first attempt at elected office. He lives in the Cedar Heights neighborhood above Garden of the Gods.
• Val Snider, 56: A retired Air Force officer, he served on the city’s planning commission and numerous other boards, including as chairman of the Colorado Springs Streetcar Feasibility Task Force. The group has urged the building of a streetcar system to spur economic development and draw tourists downtown. He lives in the Mountain Shadows area in northwest Colorado Springs.
• Brandy Williams, 32: A civil engineer and the youngest member of the new council, she served as a spokeswoman for the group that sponsored the strong mayor initiative. She lives in Stetson Hills.
• Tim Leigh, 55: Owner of commercial real estate firm Hoff & Leigh, Leigh originally sought the mayor’s office, but decided to run for council instead. He served on the Citizens Commission on Ownership and Governance of Memorial Health System, but resigned from the panel amid revelations that his wife works at Memorial. He lives on the west side.
• Angela Dougan, 46: Representing District 2 in northeast Colorado Springs, she managed campaigns for Darryl Glenn, the former seat-holder. She is a stay-at-home mother and sometimes substitute teacher from the North Gate Boulevard area.
• Lisa Czelatdko, 40: A homemaker and community volunteer, she holds a bachelor's degree in clinical psychology and a master's in school counseling. She has served on several citizen's committees and boards. She lives in southwest Colorado Springs with her husband and four daughters.
The new council, which includes incumbents Bernie Herpin and Scott Hente, will meet formally April 19 and elect a president.