Despite low turnout, Hayden approves Charter Commission |

Despite low turnout, Hayden approves Charter Commission

Group will draft town governance charter

Hayden resident Cody Sweetser chats with election judges, from left, Judy Copeland, Beth Sundberg and Ann Martin during voting Tuesday at Hayden Town Hall. Sweetser said he voted to approve the formation of a home-rule Charter Commission.
Blythe Terrell

— Hayden voters elected a home-rule Charter Commission on Tuesday, though less than 10 percent of the town’s registered voters weighed in.

Eighty of the more than 980 registered voters cast ballots. Of those, 68, or 85 percent, voted in favor of the Charter Commission. The nine people who ran for the commission will serve, Town Clerk Susan Irvine said.

“Turnout was a little over 8 percent, which, to me, was a little disappointing,” Irvine said.

She said she hadn’t been sure what to expect.

Nine voters cast ballots between about 4:30 and 5 p.m. Tuesday at Hayden Town Hall. Cody Sweetser was one of them.

“You guys have been busy, haven’t you?” Sweetser joked with election judges Ann Martin, Beth Sundberg and Judy Copeland.

“Yeah, reading,” Martin said.

“And talking,” Copeland added.

Sweetser said he voted in favor of convening the Charter Commission. His wife, Rhonda Sweetser, is principal of Hayden Valley Elementary School. That influenced Cody Sweetser’s decision, he said.

“I feel it’s going to be excellent for our town and for our school district and just more money available throughout the system,” he said.

Jeannie Wixson also voted Tuesday afternoon. She said she voted in favor of creating the commission.

“If it’s income into the town, I think it’s always good for the town,” Wixson said.

The vote pushes Hayden toward home rule instead of statutory governance. Becoming a home-rule municipality would allow the town more flexibility in taxing and holding elections, for example. Steamboat Springs and Craig are home-rule communities.

Nine people in Hayden now will set out to work on the town’s charter. Gordon Dowling, James Folley, Town Trustee Richard “Festus” Hagins, Bill Irvine, Mayor Lorraine Johnson, James Lewis, Hayden School District Superintendent Greg Rockhold, Bryan Strickland and Hayden High School Principal Troy Zabel were elected to the Charter Commission.

The document they create will be subject to approval by the Hayden Town Board of Trustees, as well as Hayden voters.

The Charter Commission must convene within 20 days of the election, Irvine said.

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