by Rick Langenberg:
In a decision that some political observers have expected for some time, Woodland Park Mayor David Turley has called it quits.
In an official resignation letter submitted on July 14, Turley, who is facing charges of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust, stated that he didn’t want to put the city through anymore distractions. But he reiterated that he is innocent of the allegations that have jolted the community for the last two months. He faces a preliminary hearing on July 21 before the 4th Judicial District Court.
In addition, Turley had faced a potential recall from a group of citizens who maintained the allegations against him are quite serious and are giving the town a black eye. They have cited the community’s family-oriented image.
“Over the past several weeks, after false allegations were made, it has become impossible for me to fulfill my obligations to this community in the manner that this city and its people deserve,” stated Turley in his letter. “While it would be my preference to continue my service as the mayor of Woodland Park, the reality is that given the allegations against me and the legal constraints placed upon me, I cannot continue to provide the attention to the city of Woodland Park that it so richly deserves. I want to state very clearly that I am innocent of the allegations that have been made against me and I look forward to having my name cleared of such in a court of law.”
In his statement, Turley thanked many of the people who have supported him and said he looks “forward to the time when both the city of Woodland Park and I are no longer burdened by these issues.”
Turley’s resignation ends a bizarre saga that city leaders and officials never faced before. A local recall group, headed by resident Ann Brown, was prepared to move forward with an ouster effort against Turley. They had submitted paper work last week, and city officials were in the process of reviewing their recall petition wording. In order to force a recall vote, the group only needed a little more than 250 signatures from registered voters in Woodland Park.
Some residents and even a few civic leaders have suggested for several weeks that it may be time for Turley to resign due to the distraction this creates for city leaders
This request was publicly voiced during the most recent city council meeting during the forum’s public comment session. Similar to the complaints made by organizers of the recall effort, a local resident voiced concerns over the seriousness of the allegations against the former mayor.
However Turley, who has attended the last two regular council meetings, had taken a business as usual stance, but appeared somewhat uncomfortable during these sessions. He hadn’t made any comments pertaining to a decision to resign until Monday. Turley contends the charges have devastated him personally. “My community is my life,” said Turley, shortly after he was arrested in late May, as part of a joint investigation by the Woodland Park and Colorado Springs police departments. “They (the allegations) make me sick to my stomach.”
The charges, according to court documents, deal with Turley’s relationship with a 17-year-old boy whom he was reportedly mentoring. The court affidavit accuses the mayor of touching the boy inappropriately in a hot tub at Turley’s residence and questions his Facebook messages and behavior pertaining to his ties with the youth..
According to the city’s charter, the only way the former mayor could have been removed was through a recall, resignation or felony conviction, or if the elected leader can’t physically hold the position.
Turley, the town’s mayor since 2012, won the seat in a convincing fashion during the last two elections. Prior to serving as mayor, he served on the city council for two years. Turley, who has been involved with the American Legion and a number of youth programs, has been a central figure at many community functions.
With Turley’s exit, the council will now have to appoint a replacement to fulfill the remainder of his two-year term. Until this occurs, Mayor Pro Tem Carrol Harvey will serve the role as the acting mayor.