Group withdraws Elbert County commissioner recall petition

'Concerned Citizens' may try again after doubts about signature numbers

Chancy J. Gatlin-Anderson
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 10/1/21

A group referred to as Concerned Citizens has withdrawn its petition to recall Elbert County Commissioners Rick Pettitt, Chris Richardson and Grant Thayer. The group says it is only temporarily …

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Group withdraws Elbert County commissioner recall petition

'Concerned Citizens' may try again after doubts about signature numbers

Posted

A group referred to as Concerned Citizens has withdrawn its petition to recall Elbert County Commissioners Rick Pettitt, Chris Richardson and Grant Thayer.

The group says it is only temporarily pausing its efforts and plans to continue its recall pursuit in the near future.

According to one Concerned Citizens leader, Susan Rudman, the withdrawal was a strategic move to further the potential success of the recall.

“By withdrawing early, which was only a few days before the deadline, we will still be able to initiate another recall without any penalty,” said Rudman in an email exchange from Sept. 29. “Our numbers were good, but it is assumed that 25% of the signatures will be disqualified for various reasons, meaning that the recall would not go through.”

Rudman indicated that if the petition had not gone through due to a lack of signatures, Concerned Citizens would have needed to obtain an additional 50% increase in the number of required qualified signatures and wait an extensive period of time before resubmission.

The group's official statement from Sept. 28 puts a positive light on its efforts: “We were blessed with the opportunity to meet and talk with over 3,000 citizens of Elbert County and hear their stories. The response to the recall effort was overwhelming and supportive, and we continue to hear stories from the citizens that affirmed that we were moving in the correct direction. Make no mistake; we will initiate a new recall process on our terms with additional focus and vigor.”

Members of Concerned Citizens have not discussed whether they will amend their grounds for recall, though they are likely to closely align with the allegations in their previous grounds:

1. Loss of county revenues by preferentially accepting developer impact fees impacting all citizens of Elbert County.

2. Loss of needed rural road development by deliberately allowing a developer out of 20 years of previously consummated contracts and financial obligations impacting all citizens of Elbert County.

3. Failure to enforce developers' contractual obligations and commitments.

4. Allowing developers to use and direct staff at their behest.

5. Improper acquisition of private property.

6. Allowing uncontrolled growth with lack of necessary and protective infrastructure and exercising a continued unwillingness to make developers accountable for said infrastructure impacting all citizens of Elbert County.

7. Failure to adhere to established County, State, and Federal roadway guidelines.

8. Failure to be responsive and willfully neglecting the concerns of all the Elbert County Citizens.

9. Failure to acknowledge and manage Elbert County's water resources properly and intentionally relieving developers of the obligation to protect these resources negatively impacting all citizens of Elbert County.

10. Failure to protect the rural Elbert County lifestyle impacting all citizens of Elbert County.

When the now-withdrawn recall attempt was originally announced, the commissioners made statements in response to the group's allegations.

“The personal attack is intentionally misleading, lacks context, and is purposely inflammatory,” Richardson said in his official rebuttal. “Nobody who wants truth or transparency should support this recall attempt.”

In an email conversation from July 27, Richardson was very pointed in rebutting the claim that he and the other commissioners engaged in “improper acquisition of private property,” arguing that it is a false accusation.

He continued: “I focus on safeguarding our resources, individual property rights, ensuring the county's long-term fiscal health, and protecting Elbert County's uniqueness”.

In Pettitt's statement, he told residents that “the decisions made which are mentioned in the grounds for recall were made by the present board in the best interest of the county.”

“The decisions made were based on facts, rules and regulations. The board is doing long-term planning so that the County is prepared for whatever the future may bring,” said Pettitt. “Whatever decisions are made will cause a certain amount of citizens to be unhappy. We realize this and make the best decisions possible.”

Thayer commented that “petitioners statements present many assertions and assumptions as facts, but without substance, logical reasoning or explanation and are related to multiple layers of drama! None are supportable by all the facts or reality.”

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