Local recalls have had mixed success

Recall elections in Montezuma County have had mixed results over the years. The most recent such election – prior to the current one involving a member of the Montezuma-Cortez School District’s board of directors – also involved a school district.

In 2018, some residents in Dolores School District Re-4A garnered enough signatures on petitions to trigger a recall election against two school-board members, Dee Prock and Vangi McCoy, whom they said were not adhering to transparency policies.

Prock resigned before the Oct. 9 election and her name did not appear on the ballot. But McCoy did not resign, and voters opted to retain her by a margin of 57.5 percent to 42.5 percent. She served out the remainder of her term, which ended in 2019. She was not eligible to run again because of term limits.

In 2011, the first recall election in the history of the city of Cortez took place. The issue that triggered it was approval of a subdivision.

On Aug. 24, 2010, the city council approved the final plat of a small, four-lot subdivision. The city agreed to pay cash to the developers and make infrastructure improvements in order to acquire the right-of-way to build a street through the property in question.

The street, Tucker Lane, was to connect Brandon’s Gate subdivision, which sits on the west of the subdivision, with Highway 145 on the east. Critics said Brandon’s Gate was not yet built out and the street was not needed. They accused the city of squandering public money and unfairly aiding one subdivision.

However, the city and the council’s supporters said Tucker Lane was on the city’s 1999 master street plan. The city manager at the time and the previous city manager both said the new street was badly needed to provide access.

Critics were not convinced. They circulated petitions and gathered sufficient signatures to try to recall five members of the city council: Matt Keefauver, Robert Rime, Betty Swank, Dan Porter, and Donna Foster.

The critics were provided an office by a competing developer but to little avail. Only one person stepped forward to run as a replacement candidate, meaning replacements would have had to be appointed if all the recalls succeeded. However, none of them did.

The election took place May 3, but the recall effort went down in flames. Voters opted overwhelmingly – with 82 percent opposing the recall – to keep all five councilors.

However, not every recall in the county has failed.

In 2001, a furor arose over the Cortez Sanitation District’s policy of digging up, cutting, and plugging with concrete the sewer lines of residential customers who did not keep up with their bills. The particular incident that sparked people’s outrage involved a woman whose husband had serious medical problems. She was behind on her bills and their sewer line was disconnected. She sold her wedding rings to pay the $500 reconnection fee.

The story drew statewide attention after it was made the subject of a column in the Denver Post.

A recall effort was then launched against three members of the five-member board, all of whom had been on the board for more than eight years. The other two members had been elected in 2000.

All three were recalled in the Nov. 6 election and the district’s manager resigned.

From January 2021.