Published: July 12, 2014
El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa will not face a recall election in November after the leader of the group behind the effort said he did not have enough signatures to feel "comfortable" turning in the petition.
"We got the number," said Randy Stagner, referring to the more than 44,000 signatures required by the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office to get the recall on the ballot. "But we did we have enough to cover our loss? No."
Stagner said the group collected more than 48,000 signatures, but the committee felt it was not a big enough "buffer" to pass the signature verification process, which could have cost the county up to $20,000.
"Why burden the taxpayers when we don't know it's going to succeed?" Stagner asked.
He announced his decision at a news conference outside the El Paso County Courthouse Saturday afternoon.
Ryan Parsell, a spokesman for the county's Clerk and Recorder's Office, confirmed that no petitions for the recall of the sheriff were turned into the office before the 1 p.m. deadline. Parsell added that the state's constitution will not allow any other attempts to recall the sheriff because he is within six months of completing his term.
The recall effort began June 13 when the clerk's office approved a petition submitted by Stagner's group. Supporters of the recall had to collect 44,387 valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot. That total is based on 25 percent of the people who voted in the sheriff's race in the 2010 election.
An investigation by the El Paso County Board of Commissioners into Maketa's conduct began in mid-May after complaints were filed accusing him of sexual improprieties, creating a hostile work environment, discrimination and removing almost all oversight of the Sheriff's Office annual budget.
Nine claims seeking $3.9 million in damages have been filed, El Paso County spokesman Dave Rose said. In late May, the county commissioners also cast a unanimous vote of no confidence in the sheriff and called for Maketa's resignation. Maketa has said he will not resign and intends to complete his third and final term, which ends Jan. 13, 2015.
Former employees of the Sheriff's Office and longtime friends of Maketa helped collect signatures for the recall, including Maketa's former Undersheriff Teri Goodall and campaign manager Wendy Habert.
At the press conference, Stagner acknowledged that some people might be upset that the committee did not move forward with the recall, even though he had more than the required number of signatures. But, he said, he was still happy with what the group accomplished.
"We don't have any regrets on what we did," he said.