PUEBLO — This November people in Pueblo cast their vote on who the next mayor of the city will be, but they will need to vote again. This election Pueblo voters had nine mayoral candidates to choose from, but Tuesday's election narrowed that number down to two.
In order for someone to be declared the next mayor, one candidate must have earned more than 50% of the votes. The votes were distributed on a wide range between the nine candidates. Since no one reached more than 50% of the votes, a runoff election will be held.
The two top candidates with the most votes will compete in the runoff election, as it stands as of 10:00 p.m. Tuesday, that is President of Pueblo City Council Heather Graham and Incumbent Mayor Nick Gradisar.
Voters in Pueblo would have to vote again between Gradisar and Graham.
Gradisar and Graham held watch parties on Tuesday night. Many of their supporters, friends, and family were in attendance.
After the first polling numbers were released around 7:30 pm, News5 spoke with the top two mayoral candidates. Both Gradisar and Graham said they are looking forward to the runoff election.
“So I hope we will have many debates, many discussions in front of groups in the community so they get a chance to compare us as candidates and our vision for the community,” Gradisar said.
“It will be an extensive two months obviously but my campaign, my family and my friends, you know they’re all behind me and I am even planning for this and we are ready to meet the expectations to take the win at the end,” Graham said.
When talking about the mayoral race, Graham and Gradisar both address what it was like to compete against eight other candidates.
“Tonight I have a real opponent now and not the other eight others. So now I know what my focus is and we are ready to single in on my opponent and how we can make Pueblo better and run a good campaign. We're ready. We've been waiting for this,” Graham said.
“I think people would be paying a lot more attention. There will be two candidates, when you have 9 candidates, it's hard for the public and the voters to separate them out. But when you have one-on-one, that will be much, much better,” Gradisar said.
News5 asked the two candidates what they would like to work on if they were elected as Pueblo’s next mayor. If re-elected, Mayor Gradisar said his top two priorities he wants to address are housing and building a real-time crime center.
“I think to continue the work that we've done for the city of Pueblo, I think we've got to make housing a top priority here, implementing a real-time crime Center has got to be a top priority for us. We're taking the initial steps to do that now. So there's a lot of work that yet yet to be done to make this the kind of community we all want it to be. But we'll work hard to do that,” Gradisar said.
Graham said if she is elected mayor she would focus on homelessness and reducing crime.
“So I want to change Pueblo, as a small business owner as a City Council president, there's not a lot of transparency and accountability in city government right now, and I hope to bring light to that. I hope to address the homeless issues, the crime problem I was endorsed by the public police union, so that was huge. I look forward to making Pueblo a better place for everybody, for their children, for their grandchildren, for businesses, for everyday humans,” Graham said.
Both Graham and Gradisar suggest voters pay attention to this runoff election.
“My message is to pay attention and vote for the candidate who's gonna make the most impact for the city,” Graham said.
“Pay attention, it's important that you participate in your government because you're going to get the kind of government that you deserve. So you know it's time to talk, I think, take the masks off and everybody can get out there and talk about what their vision is for this community,” Gradisar said.
According to previous News5 reporting, the Pueblo City Clerk, Marisa Stoller, said the City Council has already taken steps to prepare for a runoff. Council authorized $30,000 at their October 23 regular meeting to rent vote tabulation machines for a runoff election. Stoller has also contacted ballot printers to create a draft runoff ballot.
The runoff election is scheduled for January 23rd.
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