Formal protests filed against a certified petition to recall Montezuma-Cortez Board of Education member Lance McDaniel have been denied.
If the decision is not appealed, and if McDaniel does not resign by Nov. 30, a date will be set for the recall election.
The petition to hold a recall election was circulated by Malynda Nelsen and Deborah McHenry. They allege McDaniel’s Facebook posts are inappropriate and that he “has shown a lack of leadership.”
Petition challengers Dana Jensen, Cayce Hamerschlag, Mary Dodd and Janet Hough filed letters of protests and argued the recall petition should be dismissed. They claim “it is baseless, frivolous and infringes on Mr. McDaniel’s First Amendment rights of freedom of speech.”
Both sides presented their case during a protest hearing Nov. 19, and testimony was entered into evidence.
On Monday, hearing officer Mike Green denied all four protest filings, finding that “the general statements contained in the general petition for recall of Mr. McDaniel meets” statute requirements.
“Recall is a fundamental constitutional right of Colorado citizens and the reservation of this power in the People must be liberally construed,” stated Green’s decision.
The recall petition statute language is confusing and contradictory, he said during the hearing.
According to the Colorado recall petition statute, the petition statement “may not include any profane or false statements.” The statement is for the “information of the electors who are the sole judges of the legality, reasonableness and sufficiency of the ground or grounds assigned for recall. The ground or grounds are not subject to review.”
According to the decision, three of the four protests letters “do not appear to be under oath as required.”
Dodd said she wants additional clarity on this portion of the decision. She said the protest letters were handed in on time and were notarized. During the public hearing, protesters testified under oath.
The recall petition obtained the 1,126 valid signatures required, according to Montezuma County Clerk and Recorder Kim Percell.
The decision to deny the protests can be appealed in District Court.
If the petition moves forward, a special or general election would be held. Candidates to replace McDaniel must petition onto to the ballot. If it is held, the ballot question would first ask whether McDaniel should be recalled, and replacement candidates may be chosen.