Telluride’s new mayor DeLanie Young defeated incumbent Mayor Sean Murphy by a margin more than sufficient to negate the need to set instant runoff voting (IRV) protocols into action. Young garnered 53 percent of the votes to Murphy’s 41 percent; David Oyster finished a distant third with 6 percent. In the Telluride Town Council race, Telluride voters sent the incumbent, Lars Carlson, back to work on Town Council and gave Adrienne Christy a handy second-place finish and a seat on council with 39 percent and 38 percent of the votes, respectively.
It was 10 p.m. when the results of the mayor’s race were announced. Because the contest was determined by the IRV method, it meant those ballots had to be hand-counted, a much longer process. This is the final mayoral election in which IRV will be employed.
In an IRV, or ranked voting election, electors are asked to rank candidates, first, second or third choice. IRV, which went into effect in 2008, dictates that the winning candidate must earn 50 percent, plus one vote in order to win outright. Otherwise, the third place finisher is out and that candidate’s second and third choices are added to the first and second place candidates.
Not this time. Young, wearing a sash her brother made reading “Mayor,” said she felt relieved, but also grateful.
“I feel fortunate,” she said, “I’m extremely grateful to everyone who supported me. It’s important to appreciate each other and work together to make real progress.”
Oyster, calling his unsuccessful run for the mayor’s seat “quixotic,” was philosophical in defeat and quoted a favorite Jesse Winchester song to reflect his feelings at campaign’s end.
“I live on a big round ball. I never do dream I may fall, and even one day, if I do, well, I’ll jump up and smile at you,” he said.
Oyster has mounted several campaigns through the years for elected office, for council, mayor and San Miguel County commissioner. He last served on council for a single term beginning in 2007.
Murphy, who leveraged this election’s biggest war chest — more than $13,000 — with open tabs at several bars and whose campaign signs dominated the landscape served for a single term as mayor. He was appointed to council in 2015 and ran a successful campaign for mayor later that year. He could not be reached for comment before press time Tuesday night.
Carlson held on to his seat and was the top vote getter with 459 votes to Adrienne Christy’s 429. Young, Carlson and Christy will take the oath of office Nov. 19.
“I’m grateful to all my supporters and this great community. I congratulate our newest member Adrienne and wish Luigi the best. I look forward to building upon our council’s work over the last four years with this new council. Let’s make Telluride great again,” he said.
Christy was gathered with supporters and friends at The Butcher and The Baker when she learned she would embark on her first term in elected office.
“Running for Town Council has been such an amazing experience,” Christy said. “I am looking forward to doing the hard work of serving this community. Thanks to everyone who showed up and voted in this election.”
Luigi Chiarani, also a first-time candidate for public office, earned 255 votes. He was relaxed and positive upon learning the results.
“Yay! I won the bronze,” he said. “Podium finish.”
In the Telluride School District Board of Education contest, incumbents Dylan Brooks and Jenni Ward retained their seats with 28 percent and 26 percent of the vote, respectively. Cheryl Carstens Miller earned 19 percent of the vote to claim the third open seat. For Miller, it was a return to duty, as she has previously served on the board from 2009-15. The school board’s most pressing order of business will be to hire a superintendent to replace Mike Gass, who announced he will be retiring at the conclusion of the school year.
Brooks was celebrating at Young’s gathering at the Liberty.
“I feel really good,” he said. “The Telluride community is coming together in beautiful ways. The support for the school, for affordable housing, for the library … all the things that make this place tick.”