3-2Trib BOT meet Conexus1.jpg

In this Feb. 22 file photo, members of the Town of Monument Board of Trustees including, from left, Mitch LaKind, Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Elliott, Mayor Don Wilson, Ron Stephens and Darcy Schoening, are pictured during a discussion on the preliminary PUD plan for the Conexus development at the Family of Christ Lutheran Church in Colorado Springs.

MONUMENT • Tempers flared at the board of trustees meeting on the eve of the November election, as citizens, Home Rule Charter Commission members and board members sounded off on political smearing of trustee candidates and the Home Rule Charter in front of voters.

Held at the Monument Community Presbyterian Church in anticipation of high attendance, the meeting’s public comment portion descended into disdain of recent board actions as well as political campaigning against the Home Rule Charter and some trustee candidates on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Before the meeting could be adjourned, the information shared and rebutted culminated into a motion to censure one of the trustees that was ultimately defeated.

Public comment kicked off with MonumentresidentBarbara Knitt asking Mayor Don Wilson to answer questions regarding his vote at the trustees’ Oct. 17 regular meeting on Monument Junction West’s Lot 5 preliminary/final plan. Knitt contended that since the lot was within an area being developed by Classic Homes, he should have recused himself from voting, citing Wilson’s attendance at a recent fundraiser organized by the developer. However, Wilson said he was not sure who had organized the event.

Knitt questioned whether the mayor had received a particular campaign mailer over the previous weeks, but she did not get to go into specifics as her allotted three minutes to speak had expired. Knitt stated she was not done and Trustee Darcy Schoening noted if she did not step down she would be removed.

“I will removed, because five people up here deserve to be attacked,” Knit said. “There are two people who I will distinguish by calling trustees. The rest of these people need to be attacked, and if it’s not by me, it will be by others.”

Knitt was not removed from the podium — rather, Wilson called for a 15-minute recess. Moments after that, Knitt and Schoening had a verbal standoff, ending with Knitt saying she would be back after the break. Schoening again noted Knitt’s time to speak had expired, to which Knitt accused the trustee of being scared of what she had to say.

“I’m not scared of you, I find you entertaining,” Schoening said.

Knitt’s time at the podium set the tone for the remainder of the meeting. After the break, Brandy Turner, a member the Home Rule Charter Commission members, handed out a printed copy of a campaign text from the No on 2A issue committee, which went out en masse to community members. Turner said it stated falsehoods about the Home Rule Charter and the commission that drafted it.

The No on 2A issue committee, which submitted its committee registration to the Town of Monument early in October, lists Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Elliott as its registered agent. This became a major point of contention from the speakers who followed.

The mass text cited trustee candidates and Home Rule Charter commissioners Steve King and Sana Abbott as “left-wing” politicians looking to grow the size of Monument government with the charter and raise taxes as much as “1,000 percent.” It also stated they were running for the board with their “progressive friend” Kenneth Kimple to take advantage of the charter.

The text went on to state the charter as drafted has no requirement for a balanced budget and undermines the Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), rigs the municipal election process and divides Monument. It also included a No on 2A graphic which made use of the Town of Monument logo.

Turner thanked the community for coming out and engaging in discussions over the previous weeks about the drafted Home Rule Charter as well as Trustees Redmond Ramos, Mitch LaKind and Schoening. She said the remaining trustees did not engage in learning more or sharing their own views and “sat idle.” She said trustee candidates Marco P. Fiorito, Jason Gross and Kimple also attended community engagement events to discuss the aspects of the Home Rule Charter.

“Maybe you still wouldn’t agree if we had a discussion, and that’s OK, but you owe it to your voters to investigate changes that would affect them in this town,” she said. “Otherwise, it just looks like you have a personal agenda.”

Turner asked Elliott and Trustee Ron Stephens, whom she claimed sent out the No on 2A campaign text, to provide evidence in support of what it stated.

Joel Lusby, another Home Rule Charter commissioner, said only in the weeks prior to the election had it become evident the town officials who initially seemed most supportive of Home Rule have revealed quite a different agenda. He also said recent growth and development have overshadowed the Home Rule goals.

“It appears that the Home Rule Charter as presented in tomorrow’s election is giving some a weapon which they hope to somehow continue development at a breakneck pace,” Lusby said. “Oddly enough, the charter has very little to do with growth and development. In searching for a reason why so much money and resources have been spent on trying to get voters to reject a charter, one may use the old adage ‘follow the money’ to discover who is driving the No on 2A agenda.”

Lusby accused Elliott of cohorting with developers on how to defeat the charter and with the aid of consultants like The Strategy Firm LLC who he said invented a series of lies in the campaign against 2A in an attempt to lay doubt in voters’ minds. He went on to cite large No on 2A campaign contributions filed and available on the Town of Monument’s website which he said are “out of town shell organizations for developers.”

“Mayor Pro Tem Elliott, by taking part in a campaign to override the wishes of the community has disqualified herself from the ability to function as a servant and she must be disqualified from any further votes where hearings on developments are discussed by the board,” Lusby said. “I realize that the board may not have the stomach to censure a sitting trustee, but this behavior is exactly the kind of destructive behavior that would warrant such action.”

When Steve King took the podium, he made a formal complaint about Elliott and demanded the board censure Elliott for actions unbecoming a trustee. King cited a May 4, 2020 board of trustees meeting, during which Elliott made a motion to censure then sitting trustee Laurie Clark for dissemination of false information.

“The No on 2A campaign, started by Kelly Elliott and Amy Stephens, is attempting to overthrow the ballot initiative which Elliott voted for to place on the ballot and was in compliance with the board of trustees,” King said. “Mayor Wilson stated we did the job the voters intended us to do ... false and misleading information that causes voters great harm is unbecoming of an elected official.”

King went on to list the claims made by the No on 2A campaign each of which he described as “not possible” as drafted.

Abbott took the podium and cited information made public about herself as a trustee candidate and Home Rule Charter commissioner along with King and Kimple and the Home Rule Charter was falsely portrayed on the No on 2A mailers, door hangers and campaign website. She said the political attacks claiming she attempted to hide the fact she is a registered democrat were lies. Abbott said if being conservative meant spreading untruths for political gain, she didn’t want any part of it, aiming her comments at Elliott and Trustee Ron Stephens.

After Abbott was told her three minutes to speak had expired, she said to Mayor Wilson, “I’m going to speak. Your name is not on this flier. Mine is. You will let me finish.

“As for these fliers, I wouldn’t wipe my dog’s rear end with them. … After all this disgusting display of desperation, I still have hope for the people of Monument. They are tired of being deceived by most of the current board. They are not stupid and will not fall for these horror tactics.”

When the meeting came back to comments from the board, Trustee Redmond Ramos said he was disappointed that while campaign marketing for trustees seeking re-election and election remained positive, “the NO on 2A smear campaign was disgusting.” Ramos went on to defend the character of Steve King, and said Kenneth Kimple is the highest enlisted rank a person can be in the U.S. Navy, in which Ramos served as well.

“The other lies on here, it makes my stomach hurt,” Ramos said of the No on 2A mass text. “All the info on this campaign was disinformation.

“I would like to apologize on behalf of our Mayor Pro Tem to any citizen that was hurt and defamed by the disgusting marketing campaigns. I would like to give you a chance, Mayor Pro Tem, to apologize to Steve King, Ken Kimple, Sana (Abbott) and the people for lying, because this is a lie.”

Elliott took a moment to clarify her role as the registered agent of the No on 2A issue committee, “My role was to receive the financing information, not checks, not money,” she said. “I did not talk to anyone in the No on 2A campaign. I did not talk to any builders or developers. I just said I will go ahead and file the financing for it, which means fill out the forms and give them to town hall on the dates they are required. And that is what I did.

“As you know from the public information of these forms, there was a consultant that was hired that was responsible for this campaign. I did not contribute to the flier. I did not design the flier. I did not, in an email or a text, say what should be on these fliers. I did not know what was on these fliers.”

Ramos asked if she was apologetic given the material involved in the campaign.

“I have no reason to apologize for what was said,” Elliott said. “I do not want to apologize, because I had nothing to do with the content of the campaign.”

Ramos said if he was the registered agent for the committee and saw the product that came from the campaign, he would be apologetic and would state it was not his intent.

As Mayor Wilson looked for a motion to adjourn, Ramos interceded and said given the precedent of the last censure made by the board on a sitting trustee and the information presented during the meeting, he moved a censure Elliott was in order for disinformation.

LaKind second the motion and said, “Especially since Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Elliott contributed money personally to the slander and smear tactics that were used against citizens of Monument.”

The motion was defeated 5-2.

“There is a big difference between publishing inaccurate information or false information and being a registered agent,” Mayor Wilson said prior to adjourning the meeting.

“This has been one of the most ridiculous conversations.”

Load comments