Colorado SpringsElection 2018News

Independent Colo. House candidate is short of signatures, but still hopeful

Author: Conrad Swanson, The Gazette - August 9, 2018 - Updated: August 23, 2018

Maile Foster (Gazette file)

Although she submitted petition signatures early to earn a spot on the Nov. 6 ballot, independent candidate Maile Foster isn’t officially in the race yet for Colorado House District 18 in Colorado Springs.

Foster — one of five state House and Senate candidates backed by Unite Colorado and Unite America, nonprofits formally known as the Centrist Project — submitted 637 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office in early July. But fewer than half of those signatures were deemed valid, so she was 135 short of the 400 signatures required.

“Being in central Colorado Springs, you encounter people downtown or at the Walmart or in King Soopers, and a lot of them don’t live in the district,” said Andrew Short, Foster’s consultant, about why many signatures were invalidated.

> RELATED: TRAIL MIX | Is it time for independent candidates to shine?

But Foster isn’t out of the fight yet. Her campaign refiled more signatures Aug. 3, according to the Secretary of State’s website. She has until Monday, Aug. 13, to collect even more.

The new batch of 408 signatures wasn’t collected from passers-by, Short said. “About all of those were door-to-door, so we feel pretty good about it … Those have about a 70 to 80 percent validity rate. I have no doubt she will be on the ballot.”

Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ staff will review the new batch of signatures later this month, Foster said.

If she meets her 400 signature goal and earns a place on the ballot, she’ll face Democrat Marc Snyder and Republican Mary Elizabeth Fabian.

Short said Snyder is Foster’s significant challenger for the seat, which is being vacated by Rep. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, who is running for a Colorado Senate seat.

Fabian was selected by El Paso County Republican Party officials late last month after the original Republican nominee, Jillian Likness, dropped out of the race, citing health issues.

As of Aug. 1, Fabian had collected $610, compared with Snyder’s $34,354 and Foster’s $29,751, campaign finance reports show.

But Fabian said she’s already raised more money and will fight for the seat.

“I think it was always a race between Maile and Marc Snyder,” Short said. “(Fabian) seems like a very nice lady, but you can’t put a winning campaign together with just 70 days until the ballots go out.”

Meanwhile, Foster has earned yet another endorsement. In addition to Mary Lou Makepeace, the only woman elected mayor of Colorado Springs, the candidate now also is endorsed by Lynn Peterson, former president of the Colorado Springs School District 11 Board of Education.

Peterson said she met Foster about 15 years ago when both served on the board of REACH Pikes Peak.

“I was impressed with her dedication to the community and her enthusiasm and energy and her good spirits about Colorado Springs and the state of Colorado,” Peterson said.

Signatures were validated last month for the four other independent candidates backed by Unite Colorado and Unite America. Jay Geyer, Thea Chase and Paul Jones now are on the ballot for Colorado House Districts 33, 54 and 59, respectively. And Steve Peterson is on the ballot for state Senate District 30.

Mark Harden

Mark Harden is managing editor of Colorado Politics. He previously was news director at the Denver Business Journal; city editor, online news editor, state editor, national editor and popular music critic at The Denver Post; and an editor and reporter at newspapers in the Seattle area and San Francisco.