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Petition to recall Colorado Springs councilwoman returned to city clerk

January 9, 2015 Updated: January 27, 2015 at 12:53 pm
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photo - Deborah Hendrix, right, submits signatures to Colorado Springs City Clerk Sarah Johnson Thursday, January 8, 2014, as part of an effort to recall City Councilwoman Helen Collins. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette
Deborah Hendrix, right, submits signatures to Colorado Springs City Clerk Sarah Johnson Thursday, January 8, 2014, as part of an effort to recall City Councilwoman Helen Collins. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette 

Colorado Springs resident Deborah Hendrix turned in a petition Thursday in hopes that it contains enough signatures to ask voters to recall District 4 Councilwoman Helen Collins.

Hendrix, who ran against Collins in 2013, turned in about 3,000 signatures to City Clerk Sarah Johnson just before the 
5 p.m. deadline. As she waited for Johnson to do a quick count of the number of signatures, Hendrix reiterated her concern that Collins does not properly represent the people of District 4, which is the southeastern area of the city.

"We want someone who will speak for the residents," Hendrix said.

Collins could not be reached Thursday evening for comment. She has not talked to The Gazette about the recall effort, which was launched Dec. 17.

Collins was elected in 2013 after defeating Hendrix, a former Harrison School District 2 board president, and Dennis Moore, who is retired from the Air Force. Collins ran for the City Council in 2011 on a slate with anti-tax activist Douglas Bruce, businessmen Ed Bircham and Richard Bruce and veterinarian Gretchen Kasmeyer.

Hendrix said Collins' close relationship with Douglas Bruce has raised concerns from people inside her district and from the newly formed nonprofit group Colorado Springs Government Watch, which paid about 30 recall signature gatherers from $1.75 to $5 per signature.

Hendrix said that Collins' most recent proposal to ask voters to reassign Rural Transportation Authority money from the city's busing program to pay for stormwater projects sounds like a Bruce proposal and said it would negatively affect the people in District 4.

Hendrix said she is concerned that Bruce is influencing Collins' policy decisions.

"It is a concern. Doug Bruce is not our representative," Hendrix said.

Johnson will verify that the petition signatures are from registered voters in District 4 and expects to have them counted by Wednesday. If there are at least 1,485 valid signatures, Johnson will send a letter of certification to City Council President Keith King. From that date, Collins will have five days to decide if she wants to stay in office or resign her seat. If she stays, a recall question would go to the City Council for referral to the ballot in the April 7 city election, when voters will choose a new mayor, three at-large City Council members and voters in District 2 will choose a new representative to complete the remainder of Joel Miller's term. Miller resigned in November to run for mayor.

Johnson also would open a candidate filing period for anyone who wants to run for Collins' seat, and those names would be placed on the April 7 ballot along with the recall question.

Hendrix said she is not interested in running for Collins' seat but hinted that there may be someone ready to step up should the recall question go to the ballot.

Moore, who volunteers in the neighborhood watch program, said he believes the recall effort is being pushed by people from outside of District 4 in an effort to put up a council member who would be more favorable to the City for Champions project. Hendrix denied that claim.

Colorado Springs Government Watch executive director Dede Laugesen, wife of The Gazette's editorial page editor Wayne Laugesen, would not disclose the names of the board members in the nonprofit group. She said the group did not launch the recall effort but joined it because of shared concerns. The group recently filed a request, under Colorado Open Records Act, asking Collins for all her email and written correspondence with Bruce.

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Contact Monica Mendoza: 636-0187

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