by Rick Langenberg:
With much complexity and controversy over the Green Mountain Falls’ recall situation, the board of trustees agreed recently to remove local officials from overseeing any possible vote for ousting elected leaders.
The trustees unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement that would put a possible election in the laps of El Paso County. The head designated election official would be El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams, if a vote does occur, and not GMF City Clerk Chris Frandina. But in one of her last actions in dealing with this ouster campaign, the clerk recently approved the recall petition format for the Concerned Citizens Group of Green Mountain Falls and set Nov. 4 as the deadline for submitting signatures from registered voters. The group is trying to oust five of seven of the current board of trustees.
However, GMF would still foot the bill, estimated initially at around $6,000. But in another election twist, Billie Harwood, a member of the Concerned Citizens group, handed the city a check for $5,000 to pay for most of the costs during a recent trustees meeting on Sept. 3. “I don’t want to see the town hurt,” said Harwood, who played a big role in organizing the initial meetings for the Concerned Citizens group.
Concerned Citizens leader Dick Lackmond, however, objected to the town’s pact with El Paso County. Based on bids and information he has obtained, Lackmond stated that the town could pay for its own election at a cost of $200. According to Lackmond, the city merely needed to follow state guidelines since GMF is a statutory town. He mentioned amazing savings if it handled its own election and did its own mailings and hired outside judges.
But the trustees contended that too many unknown questions exist regarding a recall and they wanted to put election experts in charge. “I am inclined to stick with EL Paso County. The (possible recall) election is a lot more complicated issue,” said Trustee Jane Newberry. “It is not a matter of bulk mail.”
Plus, GMF attorney Lisa Tormoen Hickey advised the council that it would have to hire a special legal counsel if it pursued its own election, outside of the services of her law firm. With the new agreement, the city would let El Paso county handle the whole affair, including the possibility of the county “hiring an attorney if a sticky situation arises,” noted Tormoen Hickey. And if an election doesn’t occur, the city would have a way to terminate the contract after making an initial down-payment, explained Tormoen Hickey.