Carey voters rally amid countys ho-hum turnout
Democrat Peck called for Republican votes, but lost
Voter turnout from north to south in Blaine County varied
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 weeks
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 clerks 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
· 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 citys voter enthusiasm.
Since the reestablishment of the citys government five years ago
following decades of its being dormant, Baird said, residents have shown a high rate of
"Having a government thats a little closer to home makes people
a little more aware of whats going on," he said.
Especially motivating for Carey voters, in Bairds 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 Tuesdays 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 Wrights 765, or 54.88 percent.
In Carey, the fact that an overwhelming majority149 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
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
Michael received 830, or 54.5 percent of Democrats votes, compared
to Donarts 693, or 45.5 percent, of Democrats votes.
Michael will compete with two other candidates this November for north
Because he is a lone running candidate for north county commissioner,
Republican Ivan Swaner was guaranteed a slot on Novembers ballot even before
Tuesdays primary. The semi-retired Swaner is a caretaker of summer homes and
president of the Blaine County Museum Board.
Tuesdays 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.