The Political School Soap Opera Continues
~ by Rick Langenberg ~
The CC/Victor RE-1 School Board recall election will still go on, but the date of the pending and controversial vote is still in question.
That’s according to Teller County Clerk and Recorder Krystal Brown. Last week, she stated that their office still plans to proceed with the recall special election that targets three veteran leaders, President Tim Braun, Treasurer Dennis Jones and Secretary Tonya Martin. But she confirmed that their office cannot proceed with an official election date.
Due to court action, pending from an appeal filed by Jones and Braun in the District Court, a delay will occur in the scheduling of an election, originally set for July 16
A court hearing, scheduled for June 14, could determine the legal fate of the recall election for the seats of Braun, Jones and Tonya Martin. “Due to circumstances beyond our control, the Cripple Cree/Victor RE-1 School Board recall election date has not been officially set,” said Deputy Clerk Stephanie Kees, in a press release last week. “Due to restrictive timelines we are not able to meet statutory deadlines at this time.”
As a result of this announcement, the initial deadline of June 7 for submitting candidate petitions for those challenging the targeted board members has been put on hold.
This announcement, though, has triggered a number of questions.
However, Brown on Thursday made it clear that the election is still a go, but the date is somewhat in limbo. In fact, the ballot language submitted by both the recall group and the targeted board members has already been finalized.
According to the county clerk, their office is still within the timeline required to hold an election since a decision was made to authorize a vote. They just can’t set an official date, as a result of the court action.
Brown indicated that an earlier court hearing, which continued the issue until June 14, created some delays. But she believes the election will still occur, unless the District Court judge rules otherwise.
A Bizarre Soap Opera
In any case, the latest development just adds more confusion to the political roller coaster ride and drama surrounding the potential recall situation that has taken one wild turn after another. It almost has become fodder for a reality TV show.
Initially, a group formed to try to oust the three board members for a variety of reasons fell short in the amount of signatures required to force a vote. But they were allowed a certain cure period.
The group, called “Erase the Board,” took full advantage of this opportunity and easily made it to the finish line by submitting a lot more signatures in their second go-around. They easily succeeded in their effort to obtain enough valid autographs from voters in the district to force a vote against all three incumbent board members.
The targeted board members, though, didn’t wave the surrender flag and filed a lengthy protest with the clerk. They questioned the “false and reckless statements” made by the petition circulators and raised concerns about some of the signatures. They submitted documents that encompassed nearly 100 pages and demanded a hearing.
In a brief hearing conducted by county attorney Paul Hurcomb, who acted as the independent hearing judge, he ruled against the five official protests submitted. Hurcomb ruled they were not done “under oath,” a requirement listed in the state rules on recalls. At first, Jones and Braun, although upset by this verdict, appeared to accept the ruling. Initially in a prepared statement, the targeted board members announced they would not file an appeal in the District Court, and instead, run an aggressive campaign against the recall group.
But after reviewing the matter in more detail, they quickly changed their mind and filed a lengthy appeal in the District Court. Jones and Braun raised many of the same concerns that they originally made in writing in the protests that weren’t allowed to be heard. They also argued that their rights and other constitutional standards were being violated.
An initial hearing was recently held, which was continued onto June 14. I will be addressed by Judge Scott Sells.
One question still not raised much deals with the costs of the recall vote and the added court costs. The election itself will cost the district at least $8,000, but the added court and hearing expenses are expected to seriously raise this bill.