Colfax City Council Shaken Up; 4 new members

Cannabis tax Measure C also passes by wide margin
By: Mindy Schiller, Staff Writer/Page Designer
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After a nail-biting election season that surprised most Colfax residents by its Grassroots nature, the preliminary results are in: four out of the five Colfax City Council members will be claimed by residents who have never held elected office before. Incumbent Mayor Will Stockwin will be vacating his seat, as will incumbent Mayor Pro Tem Marnie Mendoza. Replacing Mendoza will be Scoops Ice Cream and Yogurt shop general manager Jessica Wright, who earned 51.45 percent against Mendoza's 48 percent. The four-year seats will be taken by Lumenaris owner Jo Fatula (16.43 percent), Volunteer Fire Captain Sean Lomen (14.6 percent) and Director of Electric Grid Interconnections Trinity Burruss (13.6 percent).

Jessica Wright was relatively low profile during the election season.

"This was all a surprise to me," she said. "I did not campaign at all."

With the county election board still counting absentee and mail-in ballots and the percentage of her victory so small (Mendoza took 48 percent to her 52), Wright isn't sure her status will keep, though.

Burruss took 13.6 percent (144 votes), only just defeating Mayor Will Stockwin, who has 12.35 percent, or 133 votes. She's trying not to get her hopes too high.

"I'm very excited, but also anxiety-ridden," she said. "Trying to take a chill pill and not take the numbers too seriously." But, she said, she feels good about all of the frontrunners, and is especially looking forward to working with the other two victors of the four-year seats, Fatula and Lomen.

Neither Lomen nor Fatula could be reached for comment as of press time.

Also decided last night was Measure C, the city's ability to tax cannabis. This is an especially meaningful decision, since the city has experienced so much turmoil on the cannabis issue. Jim Dion, who owns the only medical cannabis dispensary in town and endured a long battle to renew his license, is opposed to the measure. According to him, the dispensary is only allowed to dispense medical — not recreational — marijuana, and patrons are already taxed 22 percent. The proposed tax would be on top of that — up to an additional 6 percent.

"For people who need medical marijuana, that's a third less medicine they get a month,” he said.

But, he is hopeful about the new council.

"I feel really good about this council and the way they're going to treat this issue," he said. "They don't have to add the tax, just because the measure passed."

Burruss also opposes the measure, though she would support taxing recreational marijuana.

"If elected to council, I will stand in defense of medical patients," she said. "It's not fair to take money from someone who's sick just because you can."

Mayor Stockwin, who, as of press time, will not renew his seat on Council, is an avid proponent of the tax. The town's budget is roughly $4.2 million, of which only 14 percent is unrestricted funds. This means that the town's revenue has to come from somewhere else.

"It's a revenue issue," said Stockwin, who believes that providing marijuana licenses could encourage other players in the cannabis economy to lay roots in Colfax.

"It's not just the retailers. It's the growers, the distributors, the testing labs. All of that brings money and jobs to Colfax."

Whether the newly elected council will actually raise a tax remains to be seen--especially since the town will not know for certain who those members are for another three to four weeks. Until then, they — and the other residents of the town — are waiting anxiously.