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Is that a tuba in your pocket?

Also not counted were any votes -- even those received on time -- for Denver School Board candidate Rita Montero. Although the News reported that Montero had finished second -- an amazing showing, considering that she'd dropped out of the contest over a month earlier (but after the ballots were printed) -- McBeth says that number didn't come from his office, since the Denver Election Commission didn't bother to tally Montero's votes. Incumbent boardmember Les Woodward retained his seat over challenger Dale Sadler.

Baker residents Luchia and Adrian Brown, who led Citizens for a Better Denver in the campaign against Denver's proposed new justice center, were two more surprise vote-getters in the election, the first in Denver to rely solely on mail-in ballots. It could have been the new voting system that skewed the vote the neighborhood's way, or it could have been the abysmal TV campaign urging a yes vote on Referendum 1A.

But there's no question that in successfully pushing for defeat of the center, Citizens for a Better Denver emerged looking like winners. And CRL Associates, Maria Garcia Berry's high-powered political lobbying and consulting firm that had led the pro-Referendum 1A forces -- and outspent the Browns by hundreds of thousands of dollars, buying lots of TV time for those scare-tactic commercials -- came up the loser.

The day after the vote, Citizens for a Better Denver held a press conference in front of the Denver City and County Building and revealed their "intention to work with the city to implement a cost-effective and immediate remedy to jail overcrowding as directed by the electorate." But the group would have sounded a lot less like sore winners if they'd invited someone, anyone, from the city they now wanted to work with to that announcement. And no fair counting Councilwoman Debbie Ortega, an outspoken opponent of the Sears site from the start, or Councilwoman Ramona Martinez, sounding more like a congressional candidate every day.

After all, the next election is just eleven months away, and the big match is heating up. No, not between Tom Strickland and Wayne Allard, but between their high-powered campaign managers, Mike Stratton and Dick Wadhams, respectively, who left the private sector (Stratton) and Governor Bill Owens's office (Wadhams) to join the fight. Since the ballot includes partisan measures, though, there won't be any mail-in voting in November 2002.

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