Ken Witt Presents: How to Make the Case for Your Own Recall

Jeffco School Board President Ken Witt

Jeffco School Board President Ken Witt

Temperatures have been rising on the Jefferson County School Board ever since three right-wing members were elected to take over the Board majority in November 2013. As Colorado Pols readers are no doubt aware, these three Board members — Ken Witt, John Newkirk, and Julie Williams — are now facing a November recall election for a variety of reasons that we won’t rehash here (check Jeffco Pols for a more in-depth background into the Jeffco School Board controversies).

If you aren’t familiar with the controversies and issues that led to the November recall election, there was a moment at Thursday evening’s Jeffco School Board Meeting that perfectly encapsulates why the entire Jefferson County community has been in an uproar over the actions of Witt, Newkirk, and Williams. You can see the video yourself below, which better conveys the emotion of the exchange as Board Member Lesley Dahlkemper is nearly driven to tears out of frustration and anger in response to an incredibly disrespectful display from Board President Ken Witt.

“I am fed up with the way we are running this Board.”

— Jeffco School Board Member Lesley Dahlkemper

The back-and-forth discussion in question followed the introduction of a resolution proposing changes to the District Accountability Committee (DAC) Both Dahlkemper and Board Member Jill Fellman voiced their concern that Witt was forcing a vote on an item that the Board had not yet discussed, which is explicitly against the Board’s own policies. The resolution in question was sent around to Board members on Thursday afternoon — mere hours before the meeting was called to order — so Dahlkemper and Fellman asked Witt to schedule the vote for the following week so that the item could be discussed first.

“I don’t know how we can have a conversation and vote on something I saw for the first time 4 hours ago,” said Fellman. “I’m not willing to do that.”

Jeffco School Board Member Lesley Dahlkemper

Jeffco School Board Member Lesley Dahlkemper

Dahlkemper also noted that a discussion was pertinent because a volunteer committee of parents, teachers, and administrators had been working for months on changes to the DAC. Here’s what happened next:

LESLEY DAHLKEMPER: “At the very least, give us the time to read this, digest it, contrast it with what we have also been given by a committee that has spent more than three months analyzing state law and having conversations about this, to determine whether this is a good resolution moving forward. All I’m asking is that we follow board policy, we ask questions about this if we have any tonight, and then we put it on the agenda for the next Board Meeting to approve it. That’s all. That’s all I’m asking.”

KEN WITT: [Sarcastically] Ms. Dahlkemper, this has been read to you twice, but we can continue to go over it until you feel like you understand all of the terms. [Pols emphasis]

LD: Mr. Witt, don’t you dare speak down to me or disrespect me.

KW: I’m not…

LD: Yes, you have. And I’m sorry you don’t understand the difference between those two things…because I am done with it. [VOICE CRACKS] I can’t believe this…because I do not want to do this. But I will tell you – the mistake that you are making right now is that we have a policy on the table about how we govern. You are throwing governance right out the window because you have some agenda that you feel so critical that we have to vote on tonight…that even a simple request that is to say, “Look, our policy says we review it, and then we vote on it.” And don’t you dare insinuate that I don’t understand this policy. And stop talking down to people on this board, and also people who come forward. Enough. [Pols emphasis]

Policy disagreements are to be expected in any group of elected officials, but it’s inexcusable for Witt to a) Ignore Board policy at his own whim, and b) Display such blatant disrespect to a fellow board member. Witt’s behavior isn’t the primary reason why he, Newkirk, and Williams are facing a recall — but it’s near the top of the list.


Check out the video after the jump…


Full Exchange (fast-forward to about the 7:00 minute mark to watch the exchange transcribed above):

16 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JeffcoBlue says:

    Take a good look, Jeffco. Then vote YES on your recall ballot when it arrives next month.

    • Conserv. Head Banger says:

      So far I'm not real impressed by the quality of some of the candidates running against the Witt 3. Harmon, Rupert, Mitchell failed to show up at a major meet & greet forum couple days before Labor Day. Could it be that the recall effort is running out of gas?

      Dahlkamper notes the committee of parents, teachers, administrators working on a DAC revision. How come no taxpayers are on that? Like people who live in the county and have no kids in the system. Are we talking Ms. Dahlkamper supporting taxation without representation?

      • mamajama55 says:

        Hold up there, CHB.

        Dahlkamper notes the committee of parents, teachers, administrators working on a DAC revision. How come no taxpayers are on that?

        Do you really imagine that parents, teachers, and administrators pay no taxes in Jeffco? From the District's DAC site:

        District Accountability Committee (DAC) is a district level accountability and advisory committee composed of parent representatives from all articulation areas, representatives from JCEA, CSEA and administrators as well as citizen and parent leaders from a variety of stakeholder groups.

        Do you know for a fact that they are not meeting this standard of citizen membership from "a variety of stakeholder groups"? Have you gone to a DAC meeting and made your concerns known?

        No, there is absolutely no evidence that Ms. Dahlkemper is advocating "taxation without representation."

        • Conserv. Head Banger says:

          There's also Dahlkamper's comment that "I am fed up with the way we are running this Board."  How prophetic. That's the reason the Witt 3 got elected.

          • Conserv. Head Banger says:

            And I had checked the web site. It says:  DAC Membership  (coming soon). 

          • Progressicat says:

            Unless what she was referring to was her statement that the chair is violating the rules under which the board has agreed to operate.  if she is correctly stating board policy and Witt is violating it, he's doing exactly what the recall folks accuse him of.

            When you mention a meet and greet that the recall candidates missed, do you mean the CCU one hosted by John Andrews?

            As for the taxpayer thing, I would guess there are plenty of taxpayers already on the committees, as almost anyone with kids in the schools is one.  Since what you really mean is residents who don't have kids in the schools, I would assume they're welcome to apply as well, but even if they weren't, your "taxation without representation" comment is simply silly.

            • Conserv. Head Banger says:

              It's silly only because you disagree with it; and to back up your disagreement, you say “I would guess…..” You can do better.

              Bear in mind that the Witt 3 all won election in 2013 by landslide margins. I voted for them and, obviously, I wasn't the only one. Whether I vote for them again will depend on the quality of the opposition. Mail ballots go out shortly and I have yet to see anything from the opponents. 

              • BlueCat says:

                It's not disagreement. It's fact. Please reread. It has been pointed out that taxpayers do have representation. You keep insisting they don't. That's why your melodramatic "taxation without representation" cry is silly, not because of some opinion that can be agreed or disagreed with.  

                As for the original landslide, apparently something has changed since then or it wouldn't have been so ridiculously easy for the recall effort to collect so many more signatures than needed in such a ridiculously short time.

                At this point we'll just have see what happens, won't we?

                Best of luck to the recall.  The wacko rightie board majority is a disgrace with no respect for the rules, the parents or the students.

              • Progressicat says:

                You claim you voted for the board and yet you suggest that anyone in the school district could be "taxed without representation" simply because they aren't on a particular committee.  How is saying "I personally selected representatives to a board that taxes me without representing me" not silly?  Not every taxpayer or even every class of taxpayer is represented on every body.  To suggest that this fact means that people are being taxed without representation is to fundamentally misunderstand what representative democracy is.

                Also, I oppose the recall on principle, so who elected whom by how much is irrelevant to me.

  2. FrankUnderwood says:

    Where did he get that hair from? Is he wearing one of Elton John's wigs from back in the '70's?

  3. davebarnes says:

    Better, higher-quality recordings (video and sound) are needed.

  4. Craig says:

    Thank you Lesley for standing up for us.  Chris O'Dell

  5. jraiffie says:

    Why were you all not complaining when Lesley & Dr. Stevenson ignored board policy? Lesley was more than condescending and down right rude during her tenure as BOE Pres. She was in fact, the epidomy of a Bully. OMG, pull up your big girl panties Lesley? Shall I pull out all of the video I have no you behaving horribly? Karma is a bitch. Get over it. There was no policy violation here. Stall tactics are good for kids, how? Good job Ken Witt! #StandUp4Kids

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