Off-year election cycles typically don’t generate the buzz that presidential election years do, but several local seats are up for grabs on both the Trinidad City Council and the Board of Education of Trinidad School District No.1 (TSD1). 

The school district has two serving members up for reelection on Tuesday, November 5, Deb Hartman and Patrick Sandoval, who both said in Tuesday, July phone calls that they had not yet decided whether or not to seek reelection this year. Board of Education President Paul Montera is term-limited this year and is unable to run for reelection.

TSD1 is required by state law to publish a call for nominations to the Board of Education between Wednesday, August 7 and Thursday, August 22, with a filing deadline date of August 29. The Board has designated Executive Secretary Diane Montoya to serve as the school-designated election official for the 2019 regular biennial school election, according to information from TSD1. The District will enter into an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with the County Clerk and Recorder for the administration of the election, with Clerk and Recorder Patricia (Peach) Vigil serving as the coordinated election official for the November 5 election.  

The District also received news on Thursday, June 20 that it had been awarded a major grant that, with local matching funds, would enable the district to renovate the aging Trinidad Middle School facility. The Colorado Department of Education’s Capital Construction Assistance Board approved the Trinidad district’s application for a Building Excellent Schools Today (B.E.S.T) grant award of approximately $15.5 million. Also, the district was approved for a waiver of 29 percent for the local match.

The local district must still come up with an additional 29-percent for the local match, or approximately $4.5 million in local matching funds. TSD 1’s bond that was used to build Fisher’s Peak Elementary School will be paid off in 2020, but the district will then be asking local voters to pass a General Obligation Bond in the Tuesday, November 5 election.

The district believes that with one bond ending and another beginning, there will be little to no financial impact to voters, and passing the new bond is the only way the district can raise the local matching funds. Should voters reject the passing of the bond in November, $11 million money of free (marijuana taxation revenue) money would be forfeited, according to the district.

Two city council members, Michelle Miles and Joe Bonato, are also term-limited in 2019 and unable to run for reelection. Council member Carlos Lopez is eligible to run for reelection this year, but will decline to do so in order to pursue other political opportunities in the near future. Lopez thanked Trinidad voters for giving him the opportunity to serve them on city council in a recent social media post.

“I am sad to say that I will not be seeking re-election for Trinidad City Council this fall,” Lopez wrote. “I am grateful for all the accomplishments we as a city have made during my tenure. I am hoping to ride this wave of progressive energy to our State of Colorado Senate.

That’s right, I will be seeking the Democratic nomination for the Senate District No. 35. I am sure that the upswing we in Trinidad have felt can be spread to our neighboring communities from the San Luis Valley eastward to our Plains communities.”

Mayor Phil Rico said in a Tuesday, July 9 phone call that he planned to run for re-election, but wasn’t ready to make his formal announcement just yet. Under the terms of the City’s Home Rule Charter, city mayors may be elected to four consecutive two-year terms before stepping down from the position for at least four years before running for mayor again.

If elected, Rico would begin serving his third consecutive term in January of 2020. “I do plan on running for re-election as mayor this year,” Mayor Rico said. “I will be making a formal announcement of my plans to run in the near future.”

Anyone interested in running for positions on either the Trinidad City Council or the Trinidad School District No. 1 Board of Education can call the Las Animas County Clerk and Recorder’s office at 719-846-3314.

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