Parachute voters reject recall of pro-pot town leaders


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Results from votes in Palisade, Fruita, Carbondale and the region, 5A

Parachute voters have given a roundabout endorsement of the town’s decision to allow retail and other marijuana businesses in town, rejecting the proposed recall of three elected officials who support that move and choosing against electing a leader of the recall effort to the town council.

Voters turned down the recall of Mayor Roy McClung and trustees Tom Rugaard and Timothy Olk, town clerk Denise Chiaretta said.

They elected John Loschke, Juanita Williams, Travis Sproles and Fred Andersen as trustees. Pam Jarrett, a leader in the recall effort who initiated it due to her opposition to allowing marijuana sales in Parachute, failed to win election to the council.

Loschke and Williams are incumbents who support the town’s decision to open its doors to marijuana businesses as a means of diversifying the economy and boosting tax revenues following the area’s crash in natural gas development.

Sproles also is an incumbent but has voted against some specific marijuana business proposals.

Andersen is not currently a trustee but reportedly backs the town’s welcoming of the marijuana industry to Parachute.

Voters decided 144-57 against recalling McClung, 152-56 against recalling Olk and 154-59 against recalling Rugaard.

Sproles got the most votes for trustee (144), followed by Andersen (133), Williams and Loschke (127 each), and Jarrett (64).

Parachute voters this fall also will vote on a citizens initiative on whether to repeal the town’s decision allowing marijuana businesses into Parachute.

Said McClung, “I think it’s pretty telling that the population in general is in support of what the current board is doing. They see it’s an issue that is more than just marijuana — it’s the future of the town.”

Voters last fall also approved an excise tax on marijuana grow operations. McClung said he doesn’t see any reason why voters won’t reject the citizens initiative in November given the outcome of the last two elections, “but of course that’s why we have the election.”

He said that while he wasn’t happy to be subject to a recall vote, he’s been glad to see less apathy about town government and more people coming to meetings and getting involved.

He added, “I’m just glad that the town has seen the effort that the current board, the current administration has made, and they have enough faith in us to continue the work we have done.”

Jarrett said from the beginning she’s said that whatever happened, she would be glad if residents got the chance to vote, and she was glad there was a good voter turnout and people had their say. She said of the outcome, “it’s not going to decrease my wanting to do good things for the community. We’ll still be working for some good things for the community.”

As for how the November vote may go, she said that, again, the important thing will be people will get to weigh in on the marijuana issue.

“I just want the people to be able to speak, and if by then, if the townspeople are convinced that this is a good thing, that they want it in the community, then that’s what they will vote for,” she said.


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