With a Dixieland jazz band providing the music and an enthusiastic crowd of elected officials and Republican Party regulars providing the applause, El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark kicked off her bid for a third term Monday.
“You know me as someone who values teamwork, who is a hard worker, a proven conservative leader, who cares deeply about serving our community, as a volunteer and as a public servant,” she told about 100 people who gathered in the lobby of the Pikes Peak Center for the announcement.
A quartet of supporters — former County Commissioner Jim Bensberg, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, District Attorney Dan May and state Rep. Bob Gardner — spoke on Clark’s behalf, reeling off a list of her accomplishments in her primary areas of focus: child protection, transportation, public safety and military-related issues.
“She works for this community,” May said.
But Clark is not a shoo-in for the Nov. 6 election. She has an opponent in the Republican primary, Karen Magistrelli of Green Mountain Falls.
And if Clark prevails, she could face a recall effort. Springs Unigroup, a grassroots organization headed by one of Clark’s most vocal critics, Rick Wehner, has been sending out e-mails announcing its intention to bring a recall issue to voters in May 2013.
An e-mail from the group sent Monday by Donna Knight includes the results of an informal survey it conducted showing that Clark has a low level of trust among voters. The e-mail also cites several issues the group has with her, including her support of the use of certificates of participation to finance the purchase of the new county building on Garden of the Gods Road.
“She was very instrumental in using these instruments of participation to get this new building,” said Wehner, who says Springs Unigroup has about 130 active members and a mailing list of about 11,000. “It never even went before voters.”
Another issue for the group is the flap over a 2010 ballot question on term limits. The voter-approved measure gave commissioners the OK to seek a third term, but many voters said they were confused by the wording and thought it was imposing a two-term limit. The matter will come before voters again in November, but the ballot language allows Clark to pursue a third term.
Clark brushed off talk about a recall and said she plans to focus on her job.
“He’s never liked me, so that’s just the way it goes,” she said of Wehner. “I’ve had things said about me for a long, long time. You just can’t worry about it; otherwise, you’d never sleep.”