Signatures collected to trigger recall of Arvada city council members deemed insufficient

Not enough valid signatures were collected, clerk said

Paul Albani-Burgio
palbaniburgio@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 9/4/20

Arvada Clerk Kristen Rush said petition efforts failed to gather enough valid signatures to trigger recalls of District 1 city councilwoman Nancy Ford and District 2 city councilwoman Lauren …

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Signatures collected to trigger recall of Arvada city council members deemed insufficient

Not enough valid signatures were collected, clerk said

Posted

The organizers of efforts to recall four Arvada city councilmembers have delivered the signatures they gathered to recall two of those councilmembers to the city clerk, but a city review of those signatures indicates that the effort fell short.

The petitions to recall District 1 Councilmember Nancy Ford and District 2 Councilmember Lauren Simpson were turned in last month, but on Sept. 4 the city of Arvada announced that both collections of signatures fell short.

For Ford's recall, the city reports receiving 1,256 signatures by the deadline. "An analysis found that 266 of them were invalid due to factors such as the signer's address being outside of District 1, duplicate signatures, incomplete information, etc.," the city announcement states. The remaining 990 verified signatures falls short of the legally required bar of 1,102 valid signatures.

The Simpson recall effort resulted in 112 signatures turned in to the city by the deadline. A total of 2,170 valid signatures would have been needed to trigger a recall election against Simpson.

District 1 resident Jonah Hearne said a group of volunteers led by him was able to gather about 25% more signatures than the 1,102 needed to trigger a recall of District 1 councilwoman Nancy Ford, which left him feeling “reasonably confident” that the signatures will be found valid by the city clerk.

However, the recall supporters fell short of gathering the signatures needed to trigger a recall of at-large councilmembers Dot Miller and Bob Fifer. Hearne said a total of about 6,400 signatures had been gathered in support of recalling Miller and Fifer, a number falling short of the 9,229 needed to recall Fifer and 6,691 needed to recall Miller.

To trigger the recalls, petitioners had to collect a number of valid signatures equal to 25% of the total votes cast in a councilmember's race for office.

District 2 resident Dave Palm, meanwhile, said he had also delivered what he believed to be a sufficient number of signatures to trigger a recall District 2 councilwoman Lauren Simpson.

Hearne and Palm launched their efforts to gather signatures to launch the recalls after Miller, Fifer, Ford and Simpson voted to enter into a contract with Republic Services for Republic to serve as the citywide trash hauler starting in 2021. Residents who chose to use another trash company will have to pay a $5.13 monthly fee.

Hearne said that after reviewing the city’s findings, he has developed concerns that the county voter database the county utilizes to verify voters has mistakenly labeled certain registered voters as non-registered.

“I personally know that some of these people who are labeled as non-registered are registered to vote,” Hearne said. “So, I am working on putting together some evidence together to contest that.”

He also believes he can clear up name discrepancies that led to certain signatures not being counted.

However, he also said he is not knowledgeable about the process through which to properly challenge the city’s finding and said he would be meeting with the clerk to discuss how to do so.

Palm said he is also planning to challenge the clerk's findings on the Simpson recall, although he declined to discuss specifics.

"I fully expect a challenge to their findings," Palm said. "I also expect legal challenges to the ordinance and the contract itself."

Prior to the release of the clerk's findings, Hearne told the Arvada Press that his volunteer team also raised money during their effort to hire attorneys to launch a legal challenge against the ordinance on the grounds that the fee applied to residents who chose not to use the service is a tax and violates the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights because Arvada residents did not get the chance to vote for it.

Palm said he is also working on additional actions, although he declined to say what they are for strategic reasons.

“The recall is the first step,” he said. “And either way it goes this isn't over by a long shot.”

Both Hearne and Palm also expressed displeasure about how the release of the results were handled by the city. Hearne said he first heard about the results when he began receiving texts from other residents about the recall failing and did not receive notice from the city until several hours after that.

Palm also said the mayor had been discussing the results publicly before Palm had been notified. He also said he was bothered by a post on the city government's Facebook page announcing that the petitions had been rejected.

"The mayor was out there strutting around with answers that hadn't been released to us yet," said Palm. "I think there is a problem there."

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