Voters Reject the Establishment

In a confused election, Lakewood’s voters rejected both the Republicans and the city establishment.  In the Jefferson County school board election, voters threw out the three Republican incumbents and elected five Democrats from the union-backed slate.  While this 60% anti-Republican electoral wave did change the Lakewood mayor race and one of the Council seats, it was not enough to save the other four City Council seats up for election.  Despite Ramey Johnson’s Republican affiliation she still managed to garner nearly 50% of the vote against the Democrat-backed Adam Paul.  In the five City Council races independents won in all but one ward.  The reformers Pete Roybal and Barb Franks received nearly 60% of the vote in their respective wards.  Independents Sharon Vincent and Charley Able beat the establishment candidates in three-way races.

The only bright spot for the establishment was their retention of the Ward 5 Council seat vacated by the term-limited Tom Quinn.  However this victory was tainted by the fact that Dana Gutwein won by only ½ a percentage point, despite having spent over three times as much as the reform candidate Jessica Skimel.   In addition to the money advantage and establishment support Gutwein campaigned for nearly a year while Skimel entered the race late just two months before the election.  This close race was in sharp contrast to the Ward 5 election two years earlier when the establishment candidate, Karen Harrison,  won by nearly a 2 to 1 margin.

The new City Council makeup consists of five establishment backers, four reformers and two independents.  The establishment faction consists of Mayor Adam Paul, incumbent Scott Koop in Ward 2, incumbent Shakti in Ward 3, and Dana Gutwein and Karen Harrison in Ward 5.  The reformers consist of Ramey Johnson in Ward 1, Pete Roybal in Ward 3 and David Wiechman and Barb Franks in Ward 4.  Of the two independents, Charley Able in Ward 1 often sides with the reformers while Sharon Vincent in Ward 2 consistently sides with the establishment.  With a solid six votes, the establishment remains in control and elected Shakti as Council President.  However, the reformers have seen their influence increase with as many as five votes.  In concession to this new reality, Ramey Johnson was elected as Mayor Pro Tem.

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