Democracy doesn’t stop during a pandemic.
Small towns throughout Larimer County will have municipal elections April 7, even with town buildings closed to the public because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Voters in Windsor, Wellington, Timnath and Estes Park will elect town board members and in some cases mayors. All are conducting mail-in ballot elections, with ballots due by 7 p.m. on Election Day.
She’s had to focus on working with town, county and state officials to slow the spread of the disease rather than campaigning. Serving citizens comes first in times like these, she said.
Grossman-Belisle was able to meet face-to-face with voters until the coronavirus crisis erupted. Since early March, she’s tried to reach voters through texts, phone calls and social media, which doesn’t appear to have much reach.
The virus could affect voter turnout either way, she said.
On the one hand, people are home and have time to fill out their ballots. On the other hand, they might be preoccupied with other matters.
“Right now, people are concerned about their family and their businesses,” she said. “To some degree, the last thing on their minds is this election even though it is still important.”
In their own words: Meet the candidates in Windsor, Timnath and Wellington
The pandemic has affected the campaigns of all three mayoral candidates in Windsor: Paul Rennemeyer, Hunter Rivera and David Sislowski. The candidates agree the impact has been significant.
“It’s made everything more interesting and convoluted,” Rennemeyer said. “Nobody knows if this is helping you or hurting you.”
Aspects of traditional campaigning were locked down by stay-at-home orders and fear of spreading the disease.
A candidate forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters scheduled March 17 was canceled. Door-to-door campaigning went out the window.
Not meeting a candidate in person could make a difference when voters look at their ballots, Sislowski said. He sent mailers to voters, a move that significantly increased the cost of his campaign, but it’s hard to know what impact mailers will have.
“I’m sure the lack of personal contact will cost me some votes,” he stated in an email to the Coloradoan.
Rivera said instead of holding meet-and-greet events to connect with voters, he’s focused much of his campaign outreach on social media, especially Instagram. He held a virtual meet-and-greet through the online video app Zoom.
“Social media is definitely a big thing,” Rivera said. “It was always going to be a big thing, but now I think it’s primarily become either the biggest or only thing in our campaigns given everything that’s going on.”
Rennemeyer and Sislowski also turned to Facebook and other social media platforms to get their names and messages in front of voters. Sislowski said he didn’t know if people were seeing his posts.
Rennemeyer said he was handing out fliers until social-distancing orders came out in mid-March. He’s not sure whether online campaigns provide as many opportunities for voters to ask questions of candidates.
“There’s a lot more that could have been done if proximity to others were allowed as it is in normal races,” Rennemeyer said.
How voter turnout will be affected by the coronavirus is unknown. Turnout for municipal elections in Windsor typically is low, Sislowski said.
Three uncontested district races are on the ballot this year. The mayor’s race is the only item some voters will see on their ballots.
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“Perhaps that would typically pull in a few more voters, but it’s also easy to imagine that voters are so concerned with their own health and safety, their families, the survival of their jobs or small businesses, that voting will simply not be a priority,” he said.
Rivera said being savvy with Instagram might give him an advantage in terms of connecting with younger voters and encouraging them to participate in the election.
“From what I’m seeing so far, I think people are still enthusiastic about voting,” he said. “I think there’s going to be a good turnout from at least the younger people.”
Rivera turned 18 years old on March 30. He filled out his first ballot — voting for himself — the same day.
It’s too late to mail in ballots for April 7 municipal elections, so voters should plan on dropping them off at designated sites. Ballots are due by 7 p.m. on Election Day.
You can learn more about who’s running for Windsor, Timnath and Wellington government from the Coloradoan. We asked candidates a few questions about themselves and their viewpoints. Go to Coloradoan.com and search “candidates” to find our small-town election landing page, “Get to know candidates in Windsor, Timnath and Wellington.” There, you’ll be able to link to questionnaires from the hopefuls who returned them.
Ballots may be dropped at Windsor Community Recreation Center, 250 11th St.
- Paul Rennemeyer
- Hunter Rivera
- David Sislowski
Board District 1
- Scott Charpentier
Board District 3
- Ken Bennett (incumbent)
Board District 5
- Victor Tallon
Information: www.windsorgov.com/165/Municipal-Elections, or Town Clerk Krystal Eucker, 970-674-2400.
Ballots may be dropped at Wellington Town Hall, 3735 Cleveland Ave.
Town Board candidates (three open seats)
- John Evans (incumbent)
- Jon Gaiter
- Rebekka Kinney
- Ashley Macdonald
- Joseph McDaniel
- Daniel Sattler (incumbent)
Information: townofwellington.com/271/Elections or Deputy Clerk Cynthia Sullivan, 970-568-3381 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ballots may be dropped at Timnath Town Center, 4750 Signal Tree Drive.
- Conor Duffy
- Jill Grossman-Belisle (incumbent)
- Mark Soukup
Council members (two open seats)
- Rob Collett
- Brett Hansen
- Lisa Laake (incumbent)
- Bryan Voronin
Information: timnath.org/government/municipal-elections/ or Town/Court Clerk Milissa Peters-Garcia, 970-224-3211, email@example.com
Ballots may be dropped off at Town Hall, 170 MacGregor Ave.
- Wendy Koenig
- Charley Dickey
Board of Trustees (three open seats)
- Patrick Martchink
- Cindy Younglund
- Barbara MacAlpine
- Ward Nelson
- J. Scott Webermeier
Information: Town Clerk Jackie Williamson, 970-577-4771 or firstname.lastname@example.org; staff members at 970-577-4777 or email@example.com.
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