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City wins big on voter turnout

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2020 has largest participation in 10 years

One outcome of the 2020 municipal election that all involved can agree with is that voter turnout was significantly higher than in recent city elections, with voters drawn by two citywide issues.

According to unofficial numbers available from the Roswell City Clerk’s Office, 5,535 people cast their ballots out of 24,596 registered voters in the city, a 22.5% turnout rate.

City Clerk Sharon Coll noted that results are still unofficial and could change slightly — without affecting the outcomes of any races — after the Chaves County Board of Commissioners deals with at least one provisional ballot.

That group, which also serves as the official elections canvassing board, is due to meet at 2 p.m. on March 10 to verify election results.

“Turnout was amazing, truly amazing,” said Mayor Dennis Kintigh. “If you look at this, this beats the last mayoral turnout and possibly the last two or three mayoral election turnouts.”

This year’s turnout is the highest in 10 years. Voter turnouts are estimates. They are based on ballots in citywide elections, although some voters who participated could have chosen to abstain from citywide issues.

In 2010, voter participation was about 21.9% (4,993 out of 22,819). In 2012, turnout was about 16.6% (3,929 out of 23,692). The result for 2014 was 20.1% (5,132 out of 25,554). In 2016, participation hit a low of 11.3% (2,623 of 23,269). In 2018, it was 20.7% (4,827 out of 23,258).

This year, a municipal judge race and the public safety complex bond issue were the citywide issues, and the bond issue was the bigger draw.

The public safety complex bond issue question had 5,535 voters. The results of that question were 4,455 voting no and 1,080 voting yes. The municipal judge race — with Joseph Seskey picked to keep the position that he was appointed to in August — garnered 5,190 votes.

The City Council ward with the largest turnout by far was Ward 2. It was a three-way contest between Bonnie Bitzer, Edward Heldenbrand and Jason Perry, with Perry elected to return to a different ward on the council after an absence of two years. The total number of votes cast in that ward was 2,073, or 32.6% of the 6,367 people registered.

The next largest group of voters came in a ward in which the incumbent ran unopposed. Ward 3, with incumbent Jeanine Corn Best, had 1,002 votes out of a possible 5,417, or an 18.5% turnout.

Ward 4, another uncontested race, involving incumbent Savino Sanchez Jr., drew 790 voters out of 4,755 registered, a turnout of 16.6%.

Ward 2, a contest in which incumbent Juan Oropesa won over Cristina Arnold, had 643 ballots with 4,182 registered voters, a 15.4% turnout.

Ward 5, which put incumbent Barry Foster into office over challenger Oswaldo Vasquez Nava, had 475 votes cast, out of 3,875 registered voters, a 12.3% turnout.

“I think it went really well,” Coll said about the participation. “I was really happy to see so many people come out and voice their opinion. Normally, we only get this type of turnout for mayoral races, so I was pleased with the turnout this year.”

To keep up with coverage of this and other 2020 elections of local and regional interest, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/elections/.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.