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For the week of May 31 through June 6, 2000

Carey voters rally amid county’s ho-hum turnout

Democrat Peck called for Republican votes, but lost


Voter turnout from north to south in Blaine County varied significantly.


By TRAVIS PURSER
Express Staff Writer

A ballot lacking any real significance in the presidential races, and dominated by Democratic candidates locally, may have been the reason for last week’s low turnout during the presidential party primary election.

Compared to the previous presidential primary in 1996, for which a relatively high 44.34 percent of voters in Blaine County showed up, only 21.98 percent of voters countywide cast ballots last Tuesday.

Voter turnout from north to south in Blaine County varied significantly.

According to the county clerk’s statistics:

 In the precincts around Ketchum, voter turnout ran from a low of 14.84 percent to a high of 21.74 percent.

 Around Hailey, the numbers ran from 11.69 percent to 21.02 percent.

 In Bellevue, 21.6 percent of voters showed up at the polls.

Perhaps the most significant turnout figures where those of Carey, however. In that city, 45.51 percent of registered voters cast ballots.

Carey Mayor Rick Baird said during a telephone interview Friday that he was not surprised by his city’s voter enthusiasm.

Since the reestablishment of the city’s government five years ago following decades of its being dormant, Baird said, residents have shown a high rate of governmental participation.

"Having a government that’s a little closer to home makes people a little more aware of what’s going on," he said.

Especially motivating for Carey voters, in Baird’s view, was the candidacy of Carey farmer Robb Peck to oust incumbent Bellevue Democrat Dennis Wright as south county commissioner.

"The idea of having a county commissioner from your roots is exceptionally appealing down here," Baird said.

Because Republican candidates on Tuesday’s ballot were unopposed, for the most part, Peck made an appeal to Republican voters. In a campaign flyer, Peck promised to represent Republicans in a "fair and honest way" if they would vote for him last Tuesday.

Countywide, however, Peck lost the primary with 629, or 45.12 percent, of the votes, compared to Wright’s 765, or 54.88 percent.

In Carey, the fact that an overwhelming majority—149— voted for Peck, compared to Wright, who got 21 votes, suggests that Republicans may indeed have switched parties in the south county.

On the Democratic ticket in Carey, 63 people did not vote for presidential candidates, while 59 voted for Al Gore and 17 for Lydon LaRouche. While reluctant to speculate on those numbers, Baird said they were consistent with the idea that Republicans turned out to vote for the Democratic Peck.

Now, with Peck out of the race, Wright competes with south-county independent James Super in November. Super, who lives three miles south of Bellevue, is a backcountry outfitter.

Across the entire county last week, a total of eight candidates vied for the offices of commissioner in the north and south county, for sheriff and for prosecuting attorney. Only two of those candidates were Republican. And only two of the six Democrats stood to lose their positions on the November general election ballot.

For the north county commission seat, backcountry skiers’ activist and Ketchum/Sun Valley Chamber of Commerce board member Sarah Michael beat Sally Donart, a Ketchum-based psychotherapist.

Michael received 830, or 54.5 percent of Democrats’ votes, compared to Donart’s 693, or 45.5 percent, of Democrats’ votes.

Michael will compete with two other candidates this November for north county commissioner.

Because he is a lone running candidate for north county commissioner, Republican Ivan Swaner was guaranteed a slot on November’s ballot even before Tuesday’s primary. The semi-retired Swaner is a caretaker of summer homes and president of the Blaine County Museum Board.

Tuesday’s election was a party primary, so ex-Ketchum City Council member Sue Noel, running as an independent, did not appear on the ballot and was also guaranteed a space on the November ballot.

Also in November, Democrat Dan Tiller challenges incumbent Republican Walt Femling for county sheriff.

For county prosecuting attorney, Democrat Jim Thomas runs alone.

 

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