Louisville Mayor Ashley Stolzmann, right, appears poised to win race for Boulder County commissioner. Her opponent, Elaina Shively, left, has conceded. Photos courtesy of the candidates' campaigns

With the final batch of votes counted in the June 28 primary election, Louisville Mayor Ashley Stolzmann has inched closer to winning the race for Boulder County commissioner, albeit by a razor-thin margin. 

The latest election results, published on Thursday, July 7, show Stolzmann ahead by just 68 votes, a narrow enough victory to trigger an automatic recount, according to the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder. 

Stolzmann, who is the mayor of Louisville and a chemical engineer by training, said Thursday she expects to win the race after the recount, though she stopped just short of claiming victory. 

“This really shows every vote counts,” Stolzmann told Boulder Reporting Lab. “I’m really eager to get to work. We have a lot to do with fire response and recovery, taking climate action, working on transportation, and dealing with our affordability issues with housing and human services.” 

The opposing candidate in the race for commissioner, Elaina Shively, issued a statement minutes after the results were published indicating she is conceding. Shively is the director of the Center for Prevention and Restorative Justice at the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office.

“I will continue this fight at the District Attorney’s office along with our amazing county staff,” Shively said in an emailed statement. “I wish the very best for my opponent and the residents of Boulder County, especially as we address pressing issues like housing access and affordability, the climate crisis, and transportation.”

Molly Fitzpatrick, the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder, has said a recount is required if the margin of victory is less than or equal to .5% of the winner’s vote. In a tweet Thursday, she said the recount process will not begin until after the election audit, which is scheduled for July 12, as well as the certification meeting, which is scheduled for July 18.

The race for county commission was this year’s most competitive Democratic primary contest, prompting candidates to spend about $70,000 each on campaign mailers, consulting and other election expenses. The seat was opened by Commissioner Matt Jones, a former state senator who is not seeking reelection. There were no Republican candidates seeking the seat. 

Both candidates have campaigned on similar priorities, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving disaster preparation and addressing the housing affordability crisis. Likewise, their campaign donations were split among elected officials and organizers who are often aligned on policy questions.  

In the months and years ahead, the Board of County Commissioners will continue to play a key role in the Dec. 30 Marshall Fire recovery. The fire destroyed more than a thousand homes, exacerbating the region’s housing crisis and potentially creating a financial challenge for a county that draws most of its revenue from property taxes. The county has already awarded a $60.1 million contract for debris removal — and fended off lawsuits challenging the bidding process — and is working  to provide assistance to residents still displaced by the disaster and seeking to rebuild. 

Separately, each year, the commissioners decide how to spend the county’s $550 million budget, much of which pays for maintaining infrastructure, social services and law enforcement, including managing the county jail. The county is also in the process of dishing out $63.4 million in federal Covid-19 pandemic-related stimulus money under the American Rescue Plan Act. 

The latest results from the narrow county commissioner race came in late in part because the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder was holding on to about 2,500 ballots for privacy reasons and waiting for voters to cure approximately 900 ballots, most of which needed signatures added or confirmed. 

In other local races, Curtis Johnson, a division chief with the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, will be Boulder County’s next sheriff after winning the Democratic primary against Louisville Police Chief David Hayes. Sheriff Joe Pelle was first elected in 2003 and is not seeking reelection. No Republican candidates sought the position. 

In the race for House District 49, Katie Lehr, a co-owner of a construction firm in Boulder, maintained her win in the Republican primary to challenge Rep. Judy Amabile, a Democrat from Boulder, in the November election. The seat is unlikely to flip Republican. Democrats have more money on hand and Democratic voters outnumber Republicans in the district.

John Herrick is senior reporter for Boulder Reporting Lab, covering housing, transportation, policing and local government. He previously covered the state Capitol for The Colorado Independent and environmental policy for VTDigger.org. He is interested in stories about people, power and fairness. Email: john@boulderreportinglab.org.

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