November Election to Determine Several Board Seats
Last summer, the Woodland Park RE-2 School Board controversy was in full swing when a group of petitioners hit the streets every day in an attempt to oust three elected board members who were elected in Nov. 2021.
In the end, the recall effort failed, but the process involved some legal drama including a local woman, and a RE-2 School Board critic, getting arrested for attempting to influence a public official and false reporting. This case generated much controversy in the community and further divided the district among board critics and supporters.
One key chapter from last summer’s recall saga, though, has reached an apparent conclusion
Last Thursday, 40 year old Teller County resident, Samantha Peck, who was involved in last summer’s attempted recall, was acquitted of all charges by a jury after a three day trial.
According to a report aired on KRDO News, Peck’s lawyer, David Lane, said that charges should have never been filed. In the report, he questioned conflict of interest ties and an outright abuse of power.
“As a juror told me, in all the years of his service as a federal law enforcement officer, he’s never seen a bigger abuse of power ever. And everybody else on the jury agreed with that,” Lane told KRDO.
Lane reportedly said that the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office moved forward with the charges, even though the reported victim is married to School Board Vice President David Illingworth, who also works as a prosecutor for the district attorney’s office.
“They’re using their power and connections to go after a woman who is one of the biggest assets to the community imaginable,” Lane said, according to KRDO. “This is an absolute travesty. This is using your power and your connections to file charges against somebody that you don’t like. She had to live with this for a year, and the jury just vindicated her instantly.”
He also suggested that the charges were “politically motivated.”
The charges were originally filed against Peck last year after an incident that occurred while petitioners were working on the recall on the evening of July 24, 2022. Just before 9 p.m., Peck called the Woodland Park Police Department to report a person with a child who appeared to be drunk getting into a vehicle.
Peck told police that the woman (David Illingworth’s wife) was acting belligerent and appeared to be intoxicated. “I’m a little worried for her kid,” Peck said in her call to police. “She was slurring her words and her eyes were curling around. She has a daughter with her and I hate to see her get into an accident. I’m just worried she’s intoxicated with her daughter.”
The police arrived shortly after and located the vehicle of the woman Peck was talking about. When they arrived, the woman was sitting in her car and didn’t have a child with her. She also told police that she had not been drinking.
Police then had Peck fill out a witness statement three days later. Then on August 2, at midnight police officers showed up at Peck’s home in Divide to arrest her.
Peck was originally charged with a felony for attempting to influence a public servant and a misdemeanor for filing a false police report. After spending the night in jail, Peck posted the $3,000 bond and was released the next day.
This case generated a firestorm on social media, but until last week’s jury verdict, no formal decisions were reached.
It’s still uncertain if this jury decision will have any impact on the forthcoming November election. Three elected board seats, currently held by incumbents, are up for grabs in what local political insiders are predicting could become a highly contested vote.