The Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District election on May 6 has already drawn a lot of interest from folks in the Tri-Lakes area and around El Paso County.
A three-person group of first-time candidates running on the “Restore Black Forest Fire” platform includes PJ Langmaid, Jayme McConnellogue and Rick Nearhoof. All three are current or former firefighters. Those interested can read more on them at www.restoreblackforestfire.com.
The current board consists of five members. President Eddie Bracken, and members Preston Cooper and Walt Seelye are up for reelection. Rick McMorran and Bill Marchant do not have to run.
Bracken also has formed a group called Black Forest Together. Those interested can read more by going to www.blackforesttogether.org.
A fourth first-time candidate, Mark Fitzgerald, is also running for a board position, but he is not associated with Langmaid’s or Bracken’s group.
Langmaid has been a central figure in the opposition to the current Black Forest Fire Board. Under Bracken’s watch, the board commissioned a private investigator to look into last summer’s massive blaze that destroyed nearly 500 structures and killed two people. The report, which is 2,000 words long, was released to the public in March.
The board announced at a recent meeting that the cost of its investigation is up to $114,000.
Voters cannot vote for more than three candidates. Terms are for four years.
There are several special district elections in the County this spring. The office of the El Paso County clerk and recorder is working to ensure that every eligible voter has the opportunity to vote. In particular, the Clerk and Recorder’s Office is committed to enfranchising those citizens affected by last year’s Black Forest fire, who may have inadvertently disqualified themselves from voting in the Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District Board Election.
Black Forest citizens who are displaced from their homes must be correctly registered in order to vote in the Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District Board Election. It is important to note that mail ballots cannot be forwarded so the voter must ensure their registration reflects the correct residential and mailing addresses.
“We are concerned about the citizens of Black Forest and respect their situation due to the loss of their homes,” said County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams. “Our office is working with the Black Forest District to be sure these residents have an opportunity to vote. In addition to reaching out to the media, we also have sent a letter to these residents to further communicate this important message.”
According to Williams, those residents displaced by the Black Forest fire may have inadvertently disqualified themselves from voting in the Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District Board election by the way they updated their voter information. Voters have two address fields to complete when changing their registration; residential address and mailing address. The information provided in the residential address field determines for which jurisdictions an elector is eligible to vote. The information provided in the mailing address field determines where a mail ballot is sent.
Displaced Black Forest residents living in a temporary home but who intend to move back to their Black Forest address — and therefore could be eligible to vote in the Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District election — must have their Black Forest address listed as their residential address. In order to receive a mail ballot for the election, they must have their temporary address listed only as their mailing address.
Some displaced citizens have changed their voter registration to show both “residence” and “mailing” as their temporary address. They will not receive a ballot unless “residence” shows their Black Forest home. Other displaced citizens have not updated their voter registration at all. Since there may be no mail delivery to a destroyed residence in Black Forest, they may not receive a ballot.
Voters needed to go to the website www.govotecolorado.com or come to one of the Clerk and Recorder offices by 11:59 p.m. on April 14 in order to receive a mail ballot for the election.
Black Forest voters who did not meet this deadline to update their registration may still be able to receive a ballot. Until May 5, Monday-Friday, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., those voters can go to Black Forest Fire Station One, 11445 Teachout Road to fill out a “Request for Mail Ballot” form. The fire district’s designated election official will issue ballot packets to voters who are eligible to vote in the Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District Board Election.
The Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District election is conducted by the Designated Election Official for the district. The Clerk and Recorder’s Office is assisting in disseminating information to the public in conjunction with the Public Information Officer for the district to ensure all Black Forest displaced voters have an opportunity to vote in the election.
The primary contact for the
Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District is Donna Arkowski. She can be reached at 719-495-2892. You can email her at email@example.com. Her principal office address is: 11445 Teachout Road Colorado Springs, CO 80908.
There are 7,000 eligible voters in the District.
There will be one place of deposit, which will be located at the Black Forest fire station, 11445 Teachout Road. Ballots may be dropped off at this address between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., Mondays through Fridays only, which began on April 14, and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the day of the election. Ballots may be accepted only by election judges or the designated election official.
No fire department personnel will be able to accept ballots for deposit.
For security reasons, there will be no unmonitored freestanding drop-off locations. Ballots can also be mailed in the required return envelope to the District’s Designated Election Official at Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District, P.O. Box 88490, Colorado Springs, CO 80908.