~ by Rick Langenberg ~
In an expected decision, the Teller County Clerk and Recorder’s Office ruled last Wednesday that a group of residents seeking the ouster of three veteran board members of the Cripple Creek/Victor RE-1 School District met the threshold in garnering enough petition signatures to force a special election.
In recent weeks, a committee, led by Patricia Waddle, William Arrick and Greg Brazill, submitted an additional 140 petition autographs each in recall campaigns mounted against Board President Tim Braun, Treasurer Dennis Jones and Secretary Tonya Martin. The group has called their movement, “Erase the Board.”
According to letters submitted to the targeted board leaders on April 17, the group’s recall petition against all three was deemed sufficient. This decision wasn’t surprising, as Teller County Clerk and Recorder Krystal Brown reported recently that the recall group had submitted an additional 14 petitions against Braun and Jones and 13 against Martin. Unless a vast majority of the additional signatures were vetoed, then the path was practically assured for the group to overcome the threshold of obtaining 400 valid signatures from registered voters in the district in the recalls against each targeted board member.
However, the targeted members or any other voters in the district could file a protest. The deadline for filing a protest is May 2. If such an action occurs, then a future hearing may occur with an out-of-town judge summoned. A hearing would probably be scheduled within 15 days of the end of the protest period, according to election officials.
The targeted members can protest signatures and the petition itself, but they can’t address the reasons citizens may have signed the recall document. In addition, the door is still open for potential court action.
According to county election officials, the petition against Braun garnered the most valid signatures with 467 legal autographs; while the one against Jones secured 455 and the recall document against Martin got the fewest with 440. The recall group, though, hit a wall initially and fell short in their try, but was permitted a cure period. Altogether, election officials rejected more than 350 signatures.
If the remaining legal hurdles are overcome, a recall election will probably occur sometime in July. This would mark the first recall vote in the RE-1 School District in recent memory. If the recall election moves forward, the political stakes are quite high as the majority board members could get axed.
For several years, tensions have mounted between board members and certain parents and former employees. The idea of a board recall has escalated this year; but in reality, it has been on the radar since about 2016.
If a recall election does occur, a huge political battle is expected to develop. The group wants to remove the majority members due to a spree of allegations regarding violating state statues, school board policies, open meeting and open record rules and a variety of resolutions.
However, the targeted members have accused the recall organizers of spreading lies and misinformation and harassment. They previously compiled a 12-point “Stop the Lies” rebuttal, distributed throughout the district.
The cost of the future special election is expected to exceed $8,000.