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Gazette Premium Content Former Maketa campaign manager calls for sheriff's resignation

photo - Terry Maketa hugs his campaign manager, Wendy Habert Tuesday, August 10, 2010 as results show him leading challenger Jake Shirk in the El Paso County Sheriff Republican primary election. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette + caption
Terry Maketa hugs his campaign manager, Wendy Habert Tuesday, August 10, 2010 as results show him leading challenger Jake Shirk in the El Paso County Sheriff Republican primary election. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette
by Stephen Hobbs stephen.hobbs@gazette.com - Updated: June 27, 2014 at 6:32 pm

The campaign manager who helped elect El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa three times has joined the effort to remove him from office.

Wendy Habert, who was reached by phone Friday, said Maketa "needs to resign and move on" from the Sheriff's Office.

Habert started as Maketa's campaign manager in September 2001, she said, and worked with him during the 2002, 2006, and 2010 sheriff's elections.

Maketa, she said, walked her down the aisle during her wedding and she viewed him as a "brother."

The last time the two spoke, Habert said, was in September 2013.

"I can't sit back and do nothing because I believe this community can do better," she said.

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 had been filed by mid-June, El Paso County spokesman Dave Rose said earlier this week. In late May, the county commissioners also cast a unanimous vote of no confidence in the sheriff and called for Maketa's resignation.

A recall effort began June 13. Supporters of the recall have until July 12 to collect 44,387 valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot. That number is based on 25 percent of the people who voted in the sheriff's race in the 2010 election.

Ryan Parsell, a spokesman for the county clerk and recorder's office said the estimated cost to verify the signatures for the recall is $20,000.

"To me that 20,000 is a drop in the bucket, for the $3.9 million for the potential liability that's there, not to mention the legal fees," Habert said.

Recall petitioners will be at multiple locations this weekend and early next week.

On Saturday, petitioners will be at the Black Forest ice cream social at R&R Cafe at 11424 Black Forest Rd. from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

They will be at The Monument Park and Ride on Saturday and Monday from 7-10 a.m.

On Sunday, petitioners will be in the parking lot near Walgreens at 19th and Uintah from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. On Monday they will be at the Citizens Service Center at 1675 West Garden of the Gods from 7:30 -11:30 a.m.

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