TELLURIDE, Nov. 8, 4:10 p.m. – After months of heated campaigning, Telluride Town Councilmember Stu Fraser narrowly beat candidate Terry Tice to become the next mayor of Telluride. The margin in Tuesday’s election was 15 votes.
“I had no idea it was going to come down to that,” Fraser said Tuesday night after the announcement of his relatively narrow win. “You put yourself out there and your thoughts out there and you hope you get accepted.”
Of the fact that he won, Fraser said, “I can’t believe it.”
Fraser took in 365 votes, or 46 percent of the 796 votes cast, with Tice trailing with 350, or 44 percent. Candidate Chance Leoff received 81 votes.
“I was taken back and very surprised when I heard the news,” Fraser reiterated Thursday. “When you run for office in Telluride you just don’t know. Running for mayor was a whole new effort,” said the six-year councilmember. “Going for mayor is not as easy. It took a lot of work.
“I couldn’t have done it without my wife,” he added. “It was a real challenge.”
The results of Tuesday’s mayoral race were released at around 10 p.m. to a small group gathered at the San Miguel County Courthouse, who then relayed the results to Fraser’s anxiously waiting party at Rustico Ristorante. The news brought cheers, hugs and toasts.
“Let’s have a toast to our new mayor, Stu Fraser,” outgoing Mayor John Pryor stepped up onto a chair to announce. Fraser thanked his wife Ginny and supporters and then several poll watchers as well, saying, “You guys put yourselves on the line tonight and I thank you for that.”
Tice made a brief appearance during Fraser’s celebration to briefly shake the hand of the newly elected mayor.
“Terry Tice ran admirable and honest campaign,” Fraser announced. “He was an honest candidate who spoke out on his beliefs and I want to thank him for that. “I think Terry is a seasoned veteran and tried to get back into it,” Fraser added later. “He would have been a good mayor. I think I will make a better mayor. We have different viewpoints.”
Of number three vote getter Leoff, who chairs the town’s Historic and Architectural Review Commission, Fraser said, “Chance did a fine job for someone who has a relatively low profile.
“Going from the HARC chair to mayor is a pretty big jump,” he added.
Telluride Town Councilmember Andrea Benda said the morning after the election that Fraser has the experience that will make an effective mayor, and that the six-year council veteran’s “experience is really the biggest thing.
“I admire Terry Tice, but his experiences are not as fresh as Stu’s are,” she said, adding that Fraser “has been working in a lot of different areas for a long time” in a wide variety of areas that “are going to come into play in a big way. I think Stu is a dedicated and devoted hard worker. He goes to meetings constantly. He is a very good listener at the meetings. I think he is going to make a good mayor.
“We have so much work to do and I can’t wait to get started,” she added.
As the final hours ticked down Tuesday to the 7 p.m. closing of the polls, rumors proliferated that many non-registered voters who tried to vote had been turned away.
San Miguel County Clerk Peggy Nerlin said that wasn’t true. “I don’t know about those rumors,” she said, “but I would be surprised if we have more than five provisional ballots” – ballots that would be subject to judicial inquiry.
Fraser will move from his council seat to the mayor’s seat at the next council meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 13. For complete election coverage, please see page 8.