Candidates seek state observer to ensure fair election

March 14, 2011

Saying they lack confidence in City Clerk Kathryn Young, five candidates running for mayor or City Council asked the Secretary of State’s Office on Monday to send an observer to Colorado Springs to monitor the April 5 municipal election.

“In the last several months, there have been ongoing concerns regarding Colorado Springs City Clerk Kathryn Young and her office,” states the letter to Secretary of State Scott Gessler.

“We now lack confidence that the upcoming Municipal Election will be conducted in a fair and unbiased manner. We are asking your office to step in, observe, and ensure a honest and transparent election process,” the letter states.

Young could not be reached for comment late Monday.

The letter was signed by mayoral candidates Brian Bahr, Tom Gallagher and Buddy Gilmore, and council candidates Lisa Czelatdko, who is running for the District 3 seat, and Angela Dougan, who is running in District 2.

The letter, initiated by Bahr’s campaign, lists four “errors” committed by Young or her office.

According to the letter, they include:

• Tearing up “legally collected petitions” from Czelatdko.

• Initially listing the ballot order for the District 2 council candidates incorrectly.

• Changing the published date that ballots would be mailed to voters from March 11 to Wednesday.

• Creating confusion over the legality of corporate contributions.

The letter also raises concerns about a potential conflict of interest.

“Due to the passage of the Strong Mayor city charter amendment in November, 2010, Ms. Young, for the first time, will be directly affected by the outcome of this election,” the letter states. “Can she be an unbiased, objective election official given these circumstances?”

The secretary of state is allowed to “dispatch an observer to ensure that a fair, honest and transparent election occurs,” said Kyle Fisk, Bahr’s campaign manager.

“This has very little to do with any one candidate,” he said.

“This actually has to do with the voters of Colorado Springs,” he said. “It is incumbent upon our democratic system of fair and honest elections that on April 5, we can be confident in the accuracy of those results ... and that there’s no any additional issues that crop up.”

For more city election news go here.

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