The race for mayor in Pueblo is headed for a January runoff election.
Nine candidates sought the position. None received more than 50 percent of the total votes, which means the top two are headed for a runoff on January 23, 2024. As of the latest available results, those candidates appear to be incumbent Nick Gradisar and Pueblo City Council President Heather Graham.
Graham appears to be the top vote-getter, with 22.6 percent of the vote; Gradisar received 21 percent as of the latest count.
Chris Nicoll came in third, with a distant 13 percent of the vote.
All results are unofficial and not yet certified. Military and overseas ballots can be counted through Wed. Nov. 15. The following day is the last day to verify and count provisional ballots.
The results, if they stand, set up a runoff between Gradisar and Graham that will take place in January.
They also highlight discord between council and the mayor's office. The race comes after a failed effort to ask voters if the city should return to city manager style of government, though in candidate questionnaires prior to the election, both Graham and Gradisar said they supported the current strong mayor style of government.
In the survey, council president Graham said she would repair the relationship between council and the office of mayor, which she said is nonexistent.
"I will collaborate and provide [Council] with tools necessary to make the best decisions for their districts. I will work hand in hand with all council members to find solutions," she wrote.
Graham also said Pueblo is "at a plateau," and that she wants "to bring change, fresh perspectives, and a thriving community where everyone can be successful."
She identified what she called "civic accountability" as the biggest challenge facing Puebloans, and said solutions include tactics like adding temporary shelters and more beds for those who may be unhoused.
Incumbent Pueblo mayor Nick Gradisar noted in his pre-election questionnaire that four city councilors were in the race for mayor. Two city councilors, he said, "led the petitioning effort to do away with the strong mayor system."
"I have an open door policy with respect to the community and the City Council and regularly share and exchange ideas on matters of importance," he wrote, adding that the relationship is "successful."
As for the biggest challenge facing Pueblo, Gradisar identified a shortage in housing.
"I am working with developers to create market rate, workforce and affordable housing," he said.
Turnout for Tuesday's election sits around 40 percent in Pueblo County, though not all of those voters were eligible to vote in the city election.
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