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Election blog: Skorman, Gaebler, Avila all notch wins on election night

April 3, 2017 Updated: April 4, 2017 at 9:29 pm
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Caption +
Richard Skorman and Yolanda Avila address supporters after Council wins. "We're going to do great things together," Skorman said. Photo by Rich Laden, The Gazette.

Election day is here in Colorado Springs. Polls closed at 7 p.m. 

- Scroll to the bottom of this article on mobile for updates on Twitter; desktop users will see updates to the right.

Answer last-minute questions with our Voter Guide

See who has donated money to the candidates.

- Check out The Gazette's past election coverage. 

UPDATE 9:27 p.m.:

The Gazette’s Eric Singer spoke with District 3 Candidate Richard Skorman, District 4 Candidate Yolanda Avila, and District 5 Incumbent Jill Gaebler, who all appear to be on their way to victory.

To watch the video interviews, visit The Gazette’s Facebook page.

“I wasn’t sure how this election was going to go,” Gaebler told Singer. “There was just so much money put forward against me. But tonight, the people won—the people who really worked hard to get me elected, the people of our community who really want their voices to be on our City Council—not the voices of special interests, not the voices of big out-of-state groups—it’s the voice of our community. And, from what I’ve heard, other people got elected for the same reason. So I’m pretty excited about having a pretty great council.”

Gaebler hopes to continue focusing on campaign finance reform and improvements to the city, including upgrades in public transportation and efforts to keep the downtown area vibrant, that will help attract and maintain a population of young professionals.

Skorman said he will advocate for better fire mitigation and maintenance of parks, open space and infrastructure.

The apparent District 3 winner, who has served on City Council before, said he’s looking forward to another go-around.

“There’s a lot of things that we’re going to be doing, I think, that are going to take a strong council,” he said. “I like the mayor. I think he’s doing a great job. I’m excited to work for him.” 

Avila emphasized the need for accessible public transportation and local and state funding to address infrastructure concerns.

All three thanked supporters, volunteers and campaign staff.

“I’m so excited and so grateful for all the volunteers that I had that worked just as hard as I did throughout this campaign cycle,” Avila said.

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UPDATE 9:24 p.m.:

The latest update from the City Clerk’s Office offered no new insights into who Tuesday’s winners would be.

District 1 Councilman Don Knight, District 3 Candidate Richard Skorman, District 4 Candidate Yolanda Avila, District 5 Incumbent Jill Gaebler and District 6 Councilman Andres Pico remained in the lead in their respective races.

All three ballot issues are also likely to be approved by voters, according to the unofficial preliminary results, which were refreshed at 9:05 p.m.

Of the more than 262,000 ballots mailed out, 77,808 had been returned and counted. The turnout was measured at 29.6 percent.

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UPDATE 8:37 p.m.: 

District 5 Challenger Lynette Crow-Iverson, reacting to her apparent defeat, blamed low voter turnout and knocked her opponent, Council President Pro Tem Jill Gaebler, for what she described as “political posturing.”

In March, Gaebler filed a complaint after fliers by Crow-Iverson’s campaign falsely accused her of voting against a measure with other members of the Colorado Municipal League. District Attorney Dan May later said he would not charge Crow-Iverson for the incident.

Crow-Iverson also accused Gaebler of pushing “fake news” in complaints over “dark money."

"There is no dark money,” Crow-Iverson told Gazette reporter Lance Benzel. “That's free speech.”

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UPDATE 8:21 p.m.:

 As candidates celebrate — or lament — The Gazette newsroom is hard at work. Here's the latest from our reporters on tonight's preliminary results. 

-Skorman takes early lead in Colorado Springs District 3 council race

-Gaebler leading Crow-Iverson by a 2-to-1 margin

-Yolanda Avila leads early voting in District 4

-Geislinger, new District 2 councilman, plans to lead with a social justice doctrine

-Pico headed to victory in District 6 re-election race

-Stormwater ballot issue cruising in early Colorado Springs election returns

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UPDATE 8:13 p.m.:

The city's unofficial, preliminary results were updated at about 7:56 p.m.

The numbers did not show any major changes in who appears to be winning and what ballot issues are likely to be approved by voters.

More than 76,400 ballots had been counted. The turnout rate was about 29 percent.

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UPDATE 8:06 p.m.: 

Celebrations have begun for candidates who appear to be winning. 

District 3 Candidate Richard Skorman said grassroots support and voters’ willingness to reject negative campaigning techniques played a role in his lead over opponent Chuck Fowler.

“There’s some fear about too many special interest taking over the city government,” he told Gazette reporter Rich Laden.

When asked about her lead, District 4 Candidate Yolanda Avila said she's been working on her campaign since August and credited her close ties to constituents in the area. 

At Johnny’s Navajo Hogan, a large crowd cheered Council President Pro Tem Jill Gaebler’s early lead. Gaebler hugged former councilwoman Jan Martin.

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UPDATE 7:40 p.m.:

All three issues on the municipal election ballot are on track to pass, according to the unofficial preliminary results. 

With nearly 29 percent of ballots counted, more than 59,600 voters said yes to Ballot Issue 1. The ballot issue would require approval from a super-majority, instead of just a majority, of voters' approval before any part of Colorado Springs Utilities electric, water, gas or wastewater properties could be sold.

On Issue 2, 48,973 voters said yes. The measure asks for money for city storm water improvements — namely, $6 million in sales tax revenues this year and $6 million next year from an estimated $9 million or more in excess tax revenue — without proposing an increase in taxes. 

On issue 3, 44,937 voters said yes. The ballot issue would allow the city to opt out of a policy that prohibits local governments from providing competitive contracts for high-speed internet, cable television and telecommunications services — or from forming partnerships to provide any of those services. 

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UPDATE 7:38 p.m.: 

District 1 incumbent Don Knight is on his way to retaining his seat, according to the preliminary election results.

Knight was winning with 9,344 votes over to 4,581 votes for opponent Greg Basham, a local businessman, as of the City Clerk’s first release at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday.

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UPDATE 7:29 p.m.: 

District 6 and District 5 incumbents Andres Pico and Jill Gaebler are ahead in the polls in their respective races, the preliminary results show.

Pico had earned about 4,621 votes, or about 52 percent of ballots counted. Melanie Bernhardt trailed behind with 1,656 votes, or nearly 19 percent. Janak Joshi had garnered 1,402 votes, or almost 16 percent, and Robert Burns had about 1,142 votes, or roughly 13 percent.  

Gaebler had a strong lead over her opponent, Lynette Crow-Iverson, with 8,711 votes, or about 66 percent, compared to Crow Iverson's 4,411 votes, or roughly 34 percent. 

More than 75,000 ballots, or almost 29 percent of the more than 262,000 that were mailed out to voters, had been counted. 

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UPDATE 7:26 p.m.: 

The first round of unofficial results shows that Richard Skorman and Yolanda L. Avila are leading in the District 3 and District 4 races for City Council.

Of the roughly 75,000 ballots that had been counted, Skorman had 8,049 votes, or about 57 percent and Chuck Fowler had 6,107, or about 43 percent.

Avila had almost 40 percent of the votes in District 4, or 2,038, compared to about 29 percent, or 1,497 votes, for incumbent Councilwoman Helen Collins and about 31 percent, or 1,590 votes, for Deborah L. Hendrix.

UPDATE 7:06 p.m.:  

Just before the first round of results was released, about 15 people had gathered at MacKenzie’s Chop House in support of District 5 Candidate Lynette Crow-Iverson and District 1 Candidate Greg Basham.

As District 4 Candidate Yolanda Avila arrived at The Mining Exchange for her party with District 3 Candidate Richard Skorman, more than 60 people had crowded into the hotel’s Gold Room.

She told supporters she was making campaign calls until 6 p.m. 

The ballot count was up to 77,000, City Clerk Sarah Johnson told Gazette City Council reporter Billie Stanton.

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UPDATE 6:50 p.m.: 

Let the watch parties begin.

Gazette reporters are stationed across town at different gatherings. 

At about 6:30 p.m., District 3 Candidate Richard Skorman and about 20 others had mustered at The Gold Room at The Mining Exchange. District 4 Candidate Yolanda Avila was also expected to make an appearance.

Skorman told The Gazette’s Rich Laden he was grateful the support he received from the community—including those who made contributions as small as $3.

Between 20 and 25 people were at Johnny’s Navajo Hogan for Council President Pro Tem Jill Gaebler’s watch party. Gaebler is facing off against Lynette Crow-Iverson for the District 5 seat.

 Supporters of Deborah L. Hendrix gathered at Not Just Hair Salon and Spa.

“It’s just a waiting game now,” Hendrix told The Gazette's Jakob Rodgers. “Hopefully it will be me.”

The opponent she is trying to unseat, incumbent Councilwoman Helen Collins, said she’s not hosting a party tonight in accordance with her longstanding tradition.  

--

UPDATE 6:14 p.m.: 

Getting antsy waiting for results? 

Take a look back at some of The Gazette's past reporting on the election. In addition to profiling each candidate, reporters also covered forums, detailed campaign contributions and examined some larger issues at play in the election. 

-Sharp elbows, dark money: Is this new normal for Colorado Springs city elections?

-District attorney won't file charges in Colorado Springs council campaign complaint

-Committee with unnamed donors has most money on table in Colorado Springs election

-Colorado Springs Issue 2 would help city combat stormwater problems

-Ballot measures debated ahead of April 4 Colorado Springs city election

-Utilities Board mission, makeup dominate Colorado Springs City Council candidate forum

Or, take a quick break from election coverage entirely with this article on new food options at Coors Field. 

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UPDATE 5:47 p.m.:

About 76,000 ballots have been returned and counted by the City Clerk’s Office.

That’s about 30 percent of the 261,251 that were mailed out to voters on March 10, City Clerk Sarah Johnson told The Gazette’s Eric Singer in an interview Tuesday afternoon.

Turnout for municipal elections is typically in the 30 to 40 percent range, Johnson said.

“It’s a little lower, certainly than in 2015 when we had the mayor and the at large races. We’re lower than that, obviously, but we’re pretty much in line," Johnson said.

In the 2013 municipal election, which included City Council district races, the turnout was just more than 30 percent, or about 82,000 ballots cast.

The first round of unofficial preliminary results, which will be released at 7:15 p.m., should be a good indicator of who will the winners will be, Johnson said. Particular close races could be an exception, she added.

“We are very much caught up to where we are,” Johnson said. “We’ll get some more ballots, hopefully a lot, but we don’t know.”

Results will not be finalized until April 14, she said. Military and citizens overseas have up to eight days to return their ballots, so the numbers “could change slightly,” she said.

Her final message to voters?

“Please get out there and return your ballot. Everybody has a voice. Let it be heard. Vote.”

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UPDATE 5:16 p.m.:

There’s roughly two hours to go before the first round of unofficial election results are available.

The initial release will come at about 7:15 p.m. Results will then be updated periodically throughout Tuesday night and, possibly, into Tuesday morning, said city spokeswoman Kim Melchor.

At 7:15 p.m., City Clerk Sarah Johnson will read the first update for members of the media at the City Administration Building. The Gazette’s Eric Singer will be broadcasting live from the update on our Facebook page

Gazette City Council Reporter, Billie Stanton, will also be tweeting from the event. Follow her here

Results will be posted online here and will be refreshed at intervals after 7:15 p.m., Melchor said.

The City Clerk’s Office will likely update the figures at about 8:30 p.m. or 9 p.m. and then again before 10 p.m. Updates will continue after 10 p.m., but they may become less frequent, Melchor said.

City Clerk staff will aim to update constituents at regular intervals, although they have to pause the counting process for tallies to be taken, Melchor said.

In the past two municipal elections, the City Clerk’s Office was counting ballots until midnight or 1 a.m., she said.  

--

UPDATE 4:12 p.m.

Many candidates will be out and about tonight as election results begin to roll in. Some are holding formal election result watch parties, while others are planning casual gatherings with friends and family.

Here’s where some of the candidates will be:

-Incumbent Councilman Don Knight of District 1 will--- hold a watch party from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom at 7115 Commerce Center Drive.

-District 3 Candidate Richard Skorman and District 4 Candidate Yolanda Avila will co-host a watch party at 6:30 p.m. at The Mining Exchange hotel at 8 S. Nevada Ave.

-District 3 Candidate Chuck Fowler will be at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort at 3225 Broadmoor Valley Road from 5:30 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.

-District 4 Candidate Deborah Hendrix will hold a watch party from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Not Just Hair at 2066 Jet Wing Drive.

-Council President Pro Tem Jill Gaebler will hold a watch party at 6 p.m. at Johnny’s Navajo Hogan at 2817 N. Nevada Ave. Her challenger, Lynette Crow-Iverson, will have a party at 6:30 p.m. at McKenzie’s Chop House at 128 S. Tejon St.

-Incumbent Councilman Andres Pico will hold a watch party, starting at about 6:30 p.m., at Banning Lewis Ranch Recreation Center at 6885 Vista Del Pico Blvd. One of his opponents, Melanie Bernhardt, will gather with friends and family at about 6 p.m. at Colorado Smokehouse at 4737 N. Academy Blvd.

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UPDATE 2:24 p.m.: 

Twitter is abuzz with talk about the municipal election. Just hours before results are due, here’s what candidates are saying:

--

UPDATE 1:20 p.m.

Some candidates are taking it easy, while others are still in campaign mode with results from the Colorado Springs City Council election just hours away.

For District 4 candidate Yolanda L. Avila, the work hasn't stopped. She said her volunteers are calling her supporters and knocking on their doors Tuesday to make sure they're turning in their ballots before 7 p.m.

"I have butterflies," Avila said. "I'm very scared and excited. At the same time, I know worked really hard. I have amazing volunteers alongside me for several months. I'm working hard and I'm doing everything I can do for my district. They're my peeps. Residents matter."

She added, "I'm feeling optimistic."

Avila and Deborah L. Hendrix are challenging incumbent Helen Collins for the district seat.

Meanwhile, Greg Basham believes he's done all he could in challenging District 1 Councilman Don Knight.

Basham is not out campaigning Tuesday.

"I'm doing what I do every day," he said, referring to running his business, Champion Glass.

--

UPDATE 12 p.m.

City spokeswoman Kim Melchor said it's difficult to tell if snowy conditions Tuesday have impacted voter turnout during the Colorado Springs City Council election.

"We wouldn't be able to know whether if ballots aren't being turned in because of weather or if they're just not being turned in," she said. Despite the weather, she said that all drop-off ballot locations are "business as usual."

The city won't have a ballot count until after 7 p.m. Tuesday, the deadline to turn in ballots, Melchor said.

The last ballot summary came in 5:30 p.m. Monday.

At that point, 67,338 ballots had been turned in, 26.7 percent of the ballots mailed out March 10.

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UPDATE 11:15 a.m.

Councilman Don Knight is concerned that snowy conditions Tuesday could impact voter turnout during the Colorado Springs City Council election. He added that the numbers of voters who turn in their ballot on the final day could be "significantly less" than past elections.

Knight is running for reelection in District 1.

Knowing that the forecast called for snow across Colorado Springs, Knight held a campaign event Monday night as a final push for votes. "Everybody who wanted to vote would get it in yesterday," he said.

City Council District 3 candidate Richard Skorman reminded voters on Facebook that time was running to vote. "We are down to the wire and everyone who has voted so far, thank you very much," he wrote. "To those who haven't, you have until 7 p.m. (Tuesday) evening to deliver your ballots."

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INTERESTING LINKS

Turnout lags as campaign dollars pile up.

- Charges of inaccurate campaign literature.

--

UPDATE 10:10 a.m.

Despite the falling snow, voters were coming out to several locations across Colorado Springs to drop off their ballot.

"It's my community obligation," Neno Nenoff said as light snow fell on his head. Moments earlier, he slipped his ballot into a drop-off box near the Pikes Peak Center. "I missed the deadline to mail it in, so I drove here. I wanted my ballot to count."

Chris Curcio, a longtime Colorado Springs resident, doesn't trust mailing in his ballot. He said in the past, that voting process didn't work for him. "They never got it," he said, referring to election officials receiving his mail-in ballot.

This election year, he wanted to make sure his ballot would go into the right hands. So, on Tuesday morning, he parked his car near the Pikes Peak Center, made a short walk to the drop-off box and returned to work in downtown Colorado Springs.

"Voting in every election is important to me," Curcio said. "I find a way to get here."

A Gazette reporter witnessed about a dozen people dropping off their ballots at the 200 S. Cascade Avenue location during a 30-minute period Tuesday morning as they navigated through slushy sidewalks.

Kim Melchor, a city spokeswoman, said she couldn't speculate if the weather will impact voter turnout, adding that voters have had their ballots for the past 25 days. She also said all drop-off locations remain open Tuesday despite the snowy conditions.

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UPDATE 9 a.m.

City officials don't expect snowy conditions Tuesday morning to impact the Colorado Springs City Council election process.

A team of workers are collecting ballots at drop-off locations until 7 p.m.

"We are open for business and we're trying to make it easy for voters despite the weather," said Kim Melchor, a city spokeswoman.

--

Tuesday is your last chance to vote on the Colorado Springs City Council member you want to represent your district and on three important issues for the city.

As of 5:30 p.m. Monday, 67,338 ballots had been turned in, 26.7 percent of the ballots mailed out March 10.

Ballots must be delivered by 7 p.m. Tuesday to the City Clerk's Office, 30 S. Nevada Ave., or dropped at these ballot boxes any time before 7:

◘ East Library, 5550 N. Union Blvd.

◘ Library 21c, 1175 Chapel Hills Drive

◘ Black Forest Park-n-Ride, 7503 Black Forest Road

◘ Citizens Service Center drive-by box, 1675 W. Garden of the Gods Road

◘ The El Paso County clerk's downtown branch, 200 S. Cascade Ave.

◘ The county clerk's southeast branch, 5650 Industrial Place, Suite 100

◘ And the county clerk's north branch, 8830 N. Union Blvd.

From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Election Day, ballots also can be dropped at the Colorado Springs Senior Center, 1514 N. Hancock Ave.; or at the YMCA Southeast Family Center, 2190 Jet Wing Drive.

They can be deposited only up till 4:30 p.m. at the county clerk's Fort Carson branch, 6351 Wetzel Ave., Building 1525.

Anyone with questions on voting should call the City Clerk's Office at 719-385-5901, option 4. For more information on candidates and the issues, visit gazette.com/voter-guide.

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The Gazette's Chhun Sun contributed to this report.

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