Jeffco Recall Campaign Turns In Over 111,000 Signatures

UPDATE: The Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland:

The Jefferson County Clerk has 15 business days to review the petitions and deem the signatures sufficient. After that, opponents have 15 days to protest or challenge signatures.

That’s where the cost could go from a low of about $10,000 to more than $500,000. The district will have to cover the costs, whether it’s for the November election or a special election.

According to Jeffco United for Action, which led the petition drive, if even one protest is filed, because of time constraints, there will not be enough time to get the recall onto the November ballot. The recall will instead take place through a special election, resulting in the $500,000 cost.

Gurdikian said she hopes the opponents recognize that there are more than enough signatures to get the issue to the ballot, and not waste taxpayer money by forcing a special election.

Westword’s Melanie Asmar:

Now, the clerks have fifteen days to validate the signatures. Then there’s a fifteen-day window for any protest of the validity of the signatures. McCord hopes that doesn’t happen. “If somebody does protest, they will drag us past the date by which we can get on the November ballot,” she says. “Then we end up in a special election that costs the district a whole lot of money that we don’t want to spend.”

The parents estimate that a special election would cost half a million dollars. “We got lots and lots of extra signatures,” McCord adds. “So there wouldn’t be any valid protest. It would be frivolous.”


Volunteers deliver Jefferson County recall petitions today.

Volunteers deliver Jefferson County recall petitions today.

A press release a short while ago from Jeffco United For Action announces the delivery of over 37,000 petition signatures to recall each of the conservative majority members of the Jefferson County school board: Ken Witt, John Newkirk, and Julie Williams. This total dwarfs the required 15,000 signatures needed for each recall to proceed, virtually guaranteeing that Jefferson County voters will settle the question once and for all:

Today, Jeffco parents, educators and community members rolled over 111,000 signatures in little red wagons into the Jeffco Clerk’s office to recall Jeffco Schools Board of Education members Ken Witt, John Newkirk and Julie Williams. They turned in just over 37,000 signatures for each of the three board members to the Jefferson County Clerk & Recorder.

“We’ve seen such amazing support over the last few weeks. We have had people seeking us out at sporting events, coffee shops, grocery stores and parks all across the district to sign,” began Tina Gurdikian, a mom of two Jeffco Schools students.

“In an unprecedented move, we as a community collected more than double the number of signatures needed to recall school board members Witt, Newkirk and Williams. The message is clear, the people of Jefferson County want to hold this Board Majority accountable and demand a recall vote on November 3rd,” continued Gurdikian.

“We have done our job, and now it’s time to let the people vote on November 3rd whether the School Board Majority deserves to be recalled,” continued Wendy McCord, also a mom of Jeffco students.

Having crushed their original goal on a highly compressed schedule, recall organizers have done all they can to ensure that the recall questions appear on the regular November ballot in Jefferson County–which will both increase turnout and prevent the unnecessary expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars to hold a separate recall election.

The only question? Whether the recall opponents who have complained all along about this possible added expense try to make it happen.

“Because of overlapping timelines for November elections and recall elections, for the Jeffco voters’ will to be honored we need our opponents not to play political games in attempting to protest what are clearly 15,000 valid signatures. Should they choose to play games, opponents to the recall will cost the school district over half a million dollars, dollars that could otherwise be going to benefit our students. It is time for our community to have an honest conversation about the direction of our school district,” concluded Wendy McCord.

By all accounts recall organizers were surprised by the huge response to the recall petition drive, but turning in well over double the number of signatures required also serves an important strategic purpose. Accounting for delivery of mail ballots and the 15-day period for filing protests, the window in which to turn in signatures for the recall timed correctly to appear on the November ballot was quite small–only three days, July 28-30. If opponents choose to challenge the petition signatures line-by-line in an attempt to get enough thrown out to drop below the 15,000 minimum, it will most likely result in the recall being held after the first Tuesday in November. And that would indeed mean a large added expense to the school district.

In short, if opponents engage in an almost-certainly futile challenge of this overwhelming number of signatures, they will be the ones responsible for the additional hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on the recall. The huge safety margin in turning in 37,000 signatures per board member when only 15,000 were required makes any such challenge either a fool’s errand or an act of intentional retaliation–with Jeffco students paying the price. And either way, it won’t stop the recall from going forward.

With all of this in mind, it would be better if the board majority just faces the proverbial music.

35 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Moderatus says:

    Why should opponents of this recall do anything to make it easier? Is that what John Morse did?

    Bring on the challenges. Count every signature. That's the right thing to do no matter how many fake signatures the teacher's union got from their paid gatherers from $5 a pop.

    Sorry libs, but the rules apply to everyone.

    • BlueCat says:

      Do you have figures on what percentage of signature gatherers were paid? I'd be curious because I know so many unpaid volunteers who were chomping at the bit to get started, including  Dems from  my county(Arapahoe) who felt  that if they couldn't sign the petitin there w they could at least volunteer to collect signatures. Sorrry modster. This really is a grass roots effort. I won't hold my breath while waiting for your evidence that, I don't know, George Soros paid an army of signature collectors and that's why this effort has totally dwarfed recent gun nut petition efforts.

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      Back up your statements with some facts asshole.

      Provide some evidence that there were: 1) Paid signature gatherers and 2) they were being paid by the signature.

      Produce the facts or apologize for lying.

      • BlueCat says:

        I saw on a rightie site that the" word on the street" was….teacher's union paid signature collectors. I'm sure that's more than enough proof  (somebody says people are saying) for someone like modster who gets his fact checking standards from Fox. 

    • Mendoza says:

      Your ignorance is overwhelming. As one of the community members who helped gather signatures, not a one was fake or paid for by the union. Way to rattle off propaganda rather than facts.

    • Arvadonian1 says:

      I guess we know when fiscal conservatism goes out the window, don't we?

      • BlueCat says:

        As with religion (Love the Catholic Church on birth control and abortion but oppose the Pope's support of social justice and addressing climate change) and super patriotic support of the military (the Pentagon taking climate change so seriously as to be planning for coming geopolitical disaster caused by it and their support of the Iran deal) fiscal conservatism flies out the window whenever it becomes inconvenient which is pretty much constantly.

        The list includes but is not limited to….. needless spending on embarrassing welfare recipients with drug tests, needless expense to address the non-problem of voter fraud for the purpose of voter suppression, putting needless wars on the credit card, heaping huge tax breaks and subsidies on the rich and big corporations (the only tax cut they ever opposed and sought to end was the payroll tax cut, the one that benefits everybody who lives on their paychecks and gets spent in the economy immediately). Trickle down that doesn't create jobs and  transfers wealth from the middle to the wealthy and austerity measures that further hurt the economy are their idea of fiscal conservatism. They love big government and big spending in service of their social and reverse Robin Hood wealth transferring agenda.

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      Hey Moldy.  We're still waiting for your proof that there were paid signature gatherers who were being paid $5 a 'pop'.

      Oh wait, being a Republican means you never have to prove your statements are true and everyone should just accept your reality as real.

      Sorry Modster but the rules of truth apply to everyone.  Prove your accusations are true or apologize for your lies.

  2. mamajama55 says:

    Yeah, Mods, your buddy Gessler was not a fan of line-by-line petition signature verification. Too fricking expensive.   He tried pretty hard to get rid of it, in fact.

    What most ballot initiatives do these days is verify a 5% sample of the signatures.

    It will be interesting to see where Secretary of State Williams comes down on this – it will be a first test to see how partisan he really is. If he allows line-by-line, it will cost HIS DEPARTMENT more than 100,000 – that's my recollection from Gessler's days Joint Budget Committee, p 6.

    And where is your evidence for "paid signature gatherers at $5 a pop"? Are you aware that you are accusing  the teachers union of violating Colorado law? Since 2012, I beleive, when Independence Institute sued to change it, petition circulators should be paid by the hour, not by signature.  If they are paid per sig, as a bonus, that amount cannot be more than 20% of the circulator's compensation. Also, if circulators are paid, the campaign must take out a license. Have you seen such a license? I haven't. These were volunteers – suck it up.

    Your side will have to pay people, though – better abide by the law.

  3. Gilpin Guy says:

    Still not a fan of recalls except in cases of criminal conduct or dereliction of duty but that many signatures that quickly certainly equates to a lot of very pissed off people who are within their rights to do what they are doing.  It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

    • I'm okay with this one. The Board majority almost certainly violated state Open Meetings laws in their decision-making processes. How many times were we treated to news reports of decisions having been made without the knowledge of the Board minority members? And in the end it might be interesting to see what work product their high-paid attorney produced for the time he billed…

  4. The timing mentioned in this article seems off based on previous info.

    The law states that if the petitions are certified within 90 days of a general election (but no closer than the 15-day window for candidate petitions), then the measure goes on to the general election ballot. If there are only 15 days allowed for signature verification, and 15 more for the filing of a protest (figures posted in the previous diary), then it would take a bit of effort IMHO to force the counting to run for another month and a half…

    With 37,000 signatures, though, there will be a recall election absent a colossal failure of signature validity. It would be the height of arrogance and power-tripping to file a challenge against so many signatures and after having complained about the possible costs of a special election – which means there's at least a 50-50 chance of it happening.

  5. JeffcoDemo says:

    As Gilpen said the reasons for this recall are valid.  When you sign a deal with an attorney the day before it was voted on by the board, you have given enough proof that criminal conduct occured.  That was week 1 and it all went downhill from there.

    As for moddy's grasping at straws, hi moddy, I was a volunteer gatherer, I am a father of two students in Jeffco, I collected multiple petition packets.  It was the easiest service I've ever performed for my community.  The joy on the faces of those signing was a gift I can't repay.

    This is a steamroller going downhill and the board majority will be no more come November.  After a few years of cleaning up the pathetic mess made by these three, Jeffco can return to being the shining example of public education it was before it became the laughingstock of the country by these three buffoons.

  6. Craig says:

    Protest.  Certainly there won't be a protest.  Surely the incumbents can see the light there is no way a protest would work and besides it would cost the District $500,000 that could be put to better use.  No, they don't want a protest to move the election when the turnout will be lower.  No sireee.


    Yeah right.  You folks simply don't understand right-wing mentality.  Remember what they did to Al Franken.  Drug out his election for 6 months.  Of course they'll protest and delay and all the rest.  One will only hope that they'll get blamed for the cost.  But sorry, no body is paying any attention at all.

    • JeffcoDemo says:

      37,000 people said in 17 days that they are paying attention.

      • BlueCat says:

        I do think there is a much greater degree than ever before of attention being paid. Granted that's from a low starting point but even so. It's over fb, twitter,TV, you name it. Totally agree with Craig on the way the righties will respond, though. Still have high hopes that this one will go our way, not theirs.

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      I agree with you Craig that these conservatives will spend public money like drunken sailors on leave to hold onto their power.  I think the cost thing needed to be put out there early so that when the inevitable protests to the signatures happen, the supporters for these recalls can point to another example why these board members are feckless and unconcerned about the students.  Since recalls are now mail-in elections, suppressing turnout with a special election shouldn't be a factor.  Motivation will be and supporters for the recall have it in spades.

  7. notaskinnycook says:

    I have no dog in this fight, living in Denver and having no children. I have, however, both gathered signatures and checked them for challenges. That many signatures, that quickly from people who do have a dog in this, is remarkable and I can predict an extremely high rate of validity. I'd say WNW are in deep cowchips.

Leave a Reply

Comment from your Facebook account

You may comment with your Colorado Pols account above (click here to register), or via Facebook below.