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Boulder County turns out for contested Democrat primaries

Curtis Johnson next Boulder County sheriff; Commissioner race too close to call
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The Elections Division Ballot Processing Center hosted ballot processing tours on Friday.

More than a third of registered Boulder County voters turned out for the primary election.

The biggest races affecting local voters were the Democratic primaries for county commissioner and county sheriff, both contested. With no Republican challengers, the winners of the Democratic primaries are the presumed winners of the November election.

While early results have a clear winner for sheriff, the county commissioner election is still too close to call.

There are just 591 more votes for commissioner candidate Ashley Stolzmann, the current mayor of Louisville. Stolzmann has 22,131 votes as of 1 a.m. Wednesday, or 50.68%, compared to her opponent Elaina Shively, who has 21,540 votes or 49.3%.

“We are thrilled to see turnout numbers above original projections and want to ensure every vote gets counted,” said Nia Wassink, campaign manager for Shively. “We're very grateful to our amazing County Clerk's office for their speed in processing returns. Elaina, myself and the campaign remain hopeful and eagerly await the next round of results.”

Stolzmann did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

There are roughly 18,718 ballots left to count in Boulder County, according to the clerk’s office. Military and overseas ballots, along with voters that need to resolve an issue with their ballot, have until the end of the day July 6 to arrive or fix their ballots.

Curtis Johnson is the presumed winner of the Democratic primary for Boulder County sheriff. While ballots are still being tallied, Johnson is winning with 70.8% of the county’s votes against his opponent, David Hayes, the current Louisville police chief.

“I am very excited, just thrilled at the amount of support and hopeful that my campaign resonated with people in Boulder County,” Johnson said over the phone Wednesday. “I’m really really encouraged by the number of votes I got and looking forward to being sheriff next year.”

Johnson will replace current Sheriff Joe Pelle, who did not run for reelection after 20 years as sheriff.

Johnson was born and raised in Boulder County, leaving to attend college at the University of Puget Sound and get a masters at the American University. He returned to Boulder in 1993 and spent 27 years with the Boulder Police Department in a variety of roles including patrol officer, detective, patrol sergeant, professional standards supervisor, commander and deputy chief.

In February 2021, Johnson joined the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office as a division chief.

Johnson said he wants to prioritize hiring and retention at the sheriff’s office, making sure the organization represents the diversity of Boulder County, working on the intersection between mental illness and the criminal justice system, and wildfire response and preparedness.

“We’re already working on a lot of that, but there’s a lot still to do,” he said.

Following the November election, Johnson will begin as sheriff in January. He said that because he currently works at the sheriff’s office, he’ll start focusing on the transition now.

“It will really give us time to be deliberate and help me learn all the things I need to learn,” Johnson said. “I’ve worked here about 15 months now and that was part of the plan, to learn the organization long before I got elected, so that we could have a very smooth transition.”

Of the more than 81,000 ballots returned by Boulder County voters, nearly 42,000 were from Democrats. Another 28,106 ballots were from unaffiliated voters, who could choose to return either a Democratic or Republican ballot, and 11,246 from Republicans.

By city, Longmont has the highest turnout of voters with 22,658 ballots returned. Boulder returned 22,216 ballots.



Amy Golden

About the Author: Amy Golden

I grew up in Colorado Springs and earned a degree in journalism from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.
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