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.”
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.