Two targets of a school board recall effort in Cripple Creek-Victor School District RE-1 have resigned, and voters will decide in the Nov. 5 general election whether the third target, board President Timothy Braun, should keep his seat or be ousted.
Board Treasurer Dennis Jones and Secretary Tonya Martin vacated their seats in June after a legal appeal that sought to prove the recall claims against them were false.
Recall organizers, led by former district Head Start director Patty Waddle, allege multiple violations of Colorado open records and Sunshine laws, school board policies and resolutions.
The process hit a snag after an independent hearing officer ruled the board members had not filed the proper paperwork in contesting the statements and ordered a recall election, which had been set for July 16.
The members appealed, though, putting the election on hold just as ballots were being prepared for printing.
They contended that the recall petition signatures were insufficient, and the petitions should be withdrawn.
The Teller County clerk had shown favoritism to recall supporters, they said, and should have required the group to start over when its first petitions did not have enough valid signatures, instead of allowing them to add more.
But 4th Judicial District Judge Scott Sells disagreed, ruling to the contrary.
Braun appealed that decision to the Colorado Supreme Court, which dismissed his request Friday, saying he cited the wrong state statute in his filing.
“It wasn’t thrown out on its merits but on a technicality,” Braun said.
The remaining three RE-1 board members appointed replacements for Jones and Martin during a special meeting last month. They appointed Tana Rice, who had been on the board previously. She had moved out of the district but is again eligible since voters removed some seat boundaries. They also appointed Charles Solomone, who has a military background and two companies, Trade Wind Equipment Exchange and Cripple Creek Marksmanship and Self Defense Group.
Martin, RE-1’s transportation director, said in her resignation letter that the cost of a recall election “can be better spent on our students’ education.”
Jones said he stepped down after six years on the board because it was “time to move on and spend more time with my family.”
Jones also quit his three-year job as a teacher and coach for the district. He said he was asked to stay but chose to leave.
“I loved the kids and enjoyed being a small part of their academic growth,” he said.
Waddle, the recall leader, said Monday she did not apply for a seat and will not seek one in the Nov. 5 election.
The recall movement began after Waddle challenged Jones for his seat in November 2017 and lost by 30 votes.
After the board put former Superintendent Les Lindauer on leave in May 2018 and later fired him, Waddle said she began finding discrepancies in the way the board was operating.
Waddle said a job she took after losing the election requires her to travel frequently, and she cannot commit to attending board meetings.
“Now the voters can decide whether (Braun) stays in office, which is where it should have been from the very beginning,” she said. “We need to make sure that the public stays involved in public education and that all community members monitor and be aware of what’s going on in the school district and continue to hold our public officials and elected officials accountable for what they do.”
Braun contends he did nothing wrong, and that all claims against him and the two former board members are false.
“I have absolutely never wavered from my stand,” he said. “I have a real problem with people who lie and obfuscate and make up things to get their way, and I will not relent to them.”
Under state law, a recall election may be held as part of a general election if it’s within 90 days of the general election. Braun said doing so will save the district up to $20,000, the cost for a separate special election. He also said he’s footed the bill for the appeals.
Braun has two years left on his seat, should he retain it. The recall means all five RE-1 board seats will be open on the Nov. 5 ballot.
Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.
Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.