Council Certifies Smoking Referendum Vote; Election Cost $12,000
Some City Council members expressed disappointment before certifying election results Wednesday a day after voters decided Casper should ban smoking in all buildings with public access.
"We had a reasonable compromise," Bob Hopkins said.
"We lost and that's the way it will be," Hopkins said to fellow council members in the nearly empty council chambers.
Of the 6,272 ballots voters cast, 3,368, or nearly 54 percent, were for the total ban, according to the Natrona County Clerk's Office. Forty-six percent, or 2,894 ballots, were for the limited ban that had been in effect since 2013.
Eight ballots were "overvotes," meaning the voter filled in both ovals for "for" and "against," Natrona County Clerk Renea Vitto said Wednesday. Several were "undervotes," meaning the voter either did not fill in either of the ovals or marked them incorrectly, Vitto added.
The cost of the election, initially estimated at $30,000, will cost only about $12,000, she said. Most of the expenses -- be billed to the city by the county -- were for the 18 election judges that oversaw the six polling places, Vitto said.
Advocates of the total ban said it will reduce smoking-related diseases and health care costs in the long run.
Opponents, including council member Robin Mundell, said bars that allowed smoking now will lose business.
Daniel Sandoval criticized the behavior of some of the proponents including Keep Casper Smoke Free organizer and former council member Kim Holloway who said "f--k you" to an opponent in public after a recent council meeting.
"I was disgusted by the lack of civility among people," Sandoval said.
Many proponents did have a compassionate argument about health care, but the rude behavior sullied their cause, he added.
Shawn Johnson said the total smoking ban will send the city on a slippery slope of proposals to restrict certain foods and "the eventual chipping away of individual freedoms."
Despite their disappointment, council members said they would certify the election results and not repeal or change the total ban.