School board races too close to call

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Most expected the Littleton Public Schools bond issue, 3B, to pass handily, which it did, but the larger mystery of who would replace three longtime board members will take a little longer to solve.

As of noon Nov. 6, the five candidates were neck and neck with about 20 percent of the vote each. Haley McKean, spokesperson for the Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder’s office, said there were still about 30,000 ballots left to count countywide, which could affect the results.

“The voters just chose to wait until the last minute,” she said. “It could have been the political parties with a last-minute get-out-the-vote effort, but it’s hard to say.”

In the race for three seats, Carrie Warren-Gully had a very slight lead with 21.41 percent, followed by Kelly Perez at 19.85 percent, Robert Reichert with 19.68 percent, Jack Reutzel at 19.56 percent and Dallas Jones at 19.50 percent.

“Hopefully we’re going to know a lot more by the end of the day,” LPS spokeswoman Diane Leiker said around noon on Nov. 6.

The winners will replace Sue Chandler, Bob Colwell and Renee Howell, who are all term-limited.

Warren-Gully is the only one safe from an automatic recount, which kicks in when there is less than a half of a percent difference among the candidates. Any candidate can request a recount, regardless of the margin, but would have to pay for it themselves.

Whoever comes out ahead will be heading into the job with a sigh of relief that the $80 million bond issue passed with about 59 percent of the vote, as they all supported it heading into the election.

“Taking advantage of lower interest rates and refinancing made good business sense,” said LPS Superintendent Scott Murphy. “We are thankful that the LPS community places a high value on education. This kind of support makes continued excellence possible. ”

It keeps the amount of property tax residents pay at about a total of 57 mills. If it had failed, it would have dropped to about 55.5 mills — a difference of about $1 a month for each $100,000 of the actual value of a property.

Bond revenue can legally only be used for capital improvements like building maintenance and infrastructure. Identified as priorities are heating and ventilation systems, electrical systems, roofing, fire alarms sprinklers systems, lighting, plumbing and technology infrastructure. The district estimates the actual need at about $102 million, but asking for more than $80 million would have raised taxes.

“It’s not like we’re asking for fluff,” said Colwell, outgoing board president, upon voting to put the measure on the ballot last summer. “It’s things that need to be done for safety and the kids.”

The bond issue had strong support from a wide swath of the community including politicians from both parties, the South Metro Realtors Association and the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce.