A petition seeking a recall of El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa was submitted and then rejected within hours Thursday, the same day that competing protests took place outside the Sheriff's Office in downtown Colorado Springs.
Randy Stagner dropped the petition at the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office after attending a rally outside the Sheriff's Office that called for Maketa to resign. A larger rally in support of the sheriff occurred simultaneously. Ryan Parsell of the County Clerk and Recorder's Office confirmed that Stagner turned in a draft petition and that it was the first such paperwork submitted to launch a recall of Sheriff Maketa.
But the petition was not legally sufficient and was rejected a few hours later, Parsell said.
He said in a release that the recall committee can make changes to bring the petition into compliance with Colorado law and resubmit it for another review.
When reached by phone Thursday, before the news of the rejection, Stagner said he was confident that the county would authorize the petition and that he would get the required number of signatures. "I think it's going to be very successful," he said.
Stagner must resubmit a draft petition for review by the Clerk and Recorder's Office to start collecting signatures. Maketa can can only be removed through a recall because he is an elected official.
If the petition is resubmitted and approved, supporters would have until July 12 to collect the necessary signatures to qualify for the November election.
According to the Clerk and Recorder's Office, 44,387 signatures are required to get a vote on the November ballot. That number is based on 25 percent of the number of people who voted in the sheriff's race in the 2010 election
Maketa is accused of sexual impropriety, discrimination, removing almost all oversight of the Sheriff's Office annual budget and creating a hostile work environment, according to a complaint filed to the El Paso Board of County Commissioners in mid-May by three of his commanders. They also filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and subsequent complaints also have been filed.
In a May 31 video to Sheriff's Office employees, Maketa said he "engaged in inappropriate behavior in the past" and apologized for "not being forthright." He said he would not resign and intends to complete his third term, which ends Jan. 13, 2015.
On Thursday, Maketa supporters easily outdrew the protestors during the dueling rallies.
At times, protestors yelled at each regarding the allegations against the sheriff but the scene was for the most part calm. Maketa's supporters included his wife, Vicki, and brother, John.
Anne Marie Gary, a friend of Maketa's, said she was "very happy" with the turnout in favor of the sheriff. She felt that the media coverage of allegations against Maketa has not been fair and that he has done nothing illegal. "What happens in a personal life is a personal life," she said. "It has nothing to do with the safety of this county or the citizens."
Rebecca Duran, the organizer for the protest against the sheriff, was joined by a handful of people. While she said she understands the position of the sheriff's supporters, Duran said Maketa has "clearly violated" the law enforcement code of ethics, and should resign.
"If we cannot respect our law enforcement then what are we left with?" Duran asked. "Where is our community?"