If there was one message that came through loud and clear on Tuesday night, it was that Telluride voters were not looking to be saved by the 4Telluride candidates.
The 4Telluride slate, which became known for its comic book campaign advertisements portraying super heroes on main street, saw a concrete defeat at the polls.
Unofficial election numbers showed low vote totals for the 4Telluride candidates. Eleni Constantine had 208 votes, or 5.4 percent; Robert Weatherford had 231 votes, or 5.9 percent; Charles Dalton had 150 votes, or 3.9 percent; and Michael Saftler had 161 votes, or 4.1 percent.
When reached for comment Tuesday night, Constantine said she was not prepared to answer direct questions, but did release a statement on behalf of the slate.
“We want to thank all our supporters and friends who’ve kept us sane these last couple of months,” the official statement read. “We extend our heartiest congratulations to (winners) Todd, Geneva, Jessie Rae, and Tom, four great people. And we also extend our congratulations and thanks to the other candidates, Jerry and Jenny. You’ve all been wonderful in this process.”
The 4Telluride group went on to say that they hoped the new Town Council members would focus on “diversifying the economy,” keeping the commercial core protected from “encroaching condo development” and growing the “stock of affordable housing” — actions that the 4Telluride slate proposed making priorities had the group been elected to council.
As for the winners, according to unofficial results as of press time, Tom Watkinson was the lead vote getter, receiving 699 votes, or 18 percent; Jessie Rae Arguelles-McConnell came in second with 681 votes, or 17.5 percent; Geneva Shaunette won 627 votes, or 16.1 percent; and incumbent Todd Brown nabbed the fourth seat with 596 votes, or 15.3 percent.
Watkinson, a Telluride native, celebrated his win with a crowd of family and friends at his Election Night party at the Last Dollar Saloon, while Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration” anthem blared.
“I’m ready to do a hell of a job for the community,” Watkinson said in a brief interview Tuesday night, adding that he was amazed by the community’s support throughout the election.
“I am excited, ridiculously humbled and honored that everyone had that faith and trust in me,” he said.
Shaunette was getting her celebration on just a few doors down at Ghost Town Coffee, where her supporters — clad in “Geneva for Council” shirts — played “Political Bingo” and imbibed in beverages, while indulging in some sushi.
At age 30, Shaunette, who will be the youngest member on Town Council, said she is “really excited” to serve the next four years on council.
“It is intimidating to step into this (political) world at my age, but I had so much encouragement that I wanted to go for it,” she said. “I want to say thank you to all my friends, family and supporters in town that encouraged me. …I especially want to thank my wife; because she helped me through everything ….and just really reminded me to be empathetic and understanding.
Shaunette said she feels confident stepping into the new role and is prepared to “listen and learn to as many people” as she can.
“I really want to go into this with an open mind,” she added.
Brown, who left his own party at There Bar to congratulate the other candidates around town, said he was pleased with the voters’ decision.
“I am happy that the Telluride community has chosen, and I would say chosen well,” he said. “We’ve got a mix of experience and new blood, and I think it will be great working with everybody.”
This will be Brown’s second term on Town Council, and he said he looks forward to making decisions with “four people who will work together. That is the real benefit of the election.”
Jenny Patterson, the other incumbent in the election, did not win a seat but received 388 votes or 9.97 percent of the vote.
Gerard (Jerry) Labonte also was defeated, receiving 150 votes, or 3.9 percent of the vote.
The expenditures for each candidate’s campaign were made public on Friday, with political committees’ financial reports released on Nov. 1.
The 4Telluride campaign spent $18,000 this election season on advertisements, a website and other items. While “Telluride Matters,” a group registered as Telluride Matters/Telluride Association of Realtors has spent $14,400 to independently endorse Brown, Patterson, Shaunette and Watkinson. Dirk de Pagter, a local realtor, spent $2,500 in advertisements again the 4Telluride slate and “Together for Telluride,” which endorsed Brown, Watkinson, Shaunette and Arguelles-McConnell, spent just over $2,200 in advertising.
As for the candidates, Constantine, Dalton, Saftler and Weatherford did not report any other expenditure beyond what was reported for their political committee, 4Telluride. LaBonte also reported zero expenditures. The other candidates reported relatively modest campaign costs. Arguelles-McConnell reported $653.40 in expenses; Brown’s campaign came in at $1,799.60; Patterson spent $3,418.33; Watkinson and his committee “Tom for Telluride” reported $608.24; Shaunette, and the “Committee to Elect Geneva Shaunette” spent a total of $1,010.12.