MONTROSE – Tuesday's election was a blinding defeat to the vision for a new Montrose community recreation center, as the majority of Montrose voters revealed their desire for no new taxes.
Measure A, which would have increased the city's sales tax by 0.02 percent to help fund a community recreation center, was defeated by 599 votes.
"I'm stunned and disappointed," said Jason Ullmann, who led the Friends of the Montrose Community Recreation Center in putting the initiative on the ballot. "It wasn't as close as I expected."
In the election, 2,372 voted in favor of the measure, while 2,971 voted against it.
"I felt it was a good idea, I just believe it was the wrong time," said former mayor Ed Ulibarri.
Resident Jayne Bilberry disagreed, saying she felt it was the right fit at the right time.
"My heart was broken when it was defeated," she said. "I don't know what the Montrose voters were thinking."
Of the 8,257 ballots that were issued to city residents, 65.4 percent, or 5,401 ballots, were returned — and only 39 of those people decided not to cast a vote either way in the rec center initiative.
That wasn't the case in the three city council races, with as many as 600 people choosing not to vote in a particular race. But those who did vote brought the District IV race down to the wire.
"It's a show of small-town politics when a race can come within 55 votes," said Bilberry, who also is the chairwoman of the Montrose County Democrats. "It's all about knowing your neighbor."
Current Montrose Mayor Kathy Ellis defeated current at-large Councilor Bill Patterson by 2,476 to 2,421 — a mere 55 votes — in the District IV race.
"I'm glad it's over," Ellis said.
When asked what her goals are for her next term, she said, "It seems trite, but this is a five-person council that should work as a team."
Patterson won't be stepping out of the political realm, however. He said he plans to continue to be involved in the community and has considered running in the upcoming Delta-Montrose Electric Association election.
"That board has important input into this community and can make a difference," he said.
Incumbent councilmember Gail Marvel of District III said she'll be "sitting in the back row" at council meetings after she was defeated by retired businessman Bob Nicholson.
Nicholson took a majority of the votes with 3,100 to Marvel's 1,685.
"I've met so many good people in town these last couple of months and I appreciate their support," Nicholson said after the announcement. "I did run with an agenda: to have a more effective and accessible city council and government. So, I'll start working on that."
In the at-large district race, Judy Ann Files walked away with the win, getting 2,991 votes to Jim Brockman's 1,742.
Files said she'll continue to follow the plan she set at the beginning of her campaign, which is to make the community better and be prepared for what comes before her.
One of her goals is to look into the city's local preference rule.
"I'd like to get a better feel for that because if we can do more to help local jobs, that is a good thing to do," Files said.
Files and the others will get their opportunity soon, as the new council members will be sworn in during a regular council meeting on April 17.