Fraser Rec District recall election officially lined up
September 18, 2008
The first legal step toward a recall of three directors of the Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District has been taken.
On Tuesday, Sept. 16, Judge Shelley Hill of the 14th Judicial District Court appointed Todd Holzwarth as the designated election official for the recall. In her court order, Hill said Holzwarth, who had previously served as an election official, was randomly selected for the task. Holzwarth is the fire chief of the East Grand Fire Protection District.
The petition for a recall election was filed Aug. 22 by Winter Park attorney Mark Rudis, who is representing the Concerned Citizens group in their dispute with the recreation district about the construction of the new recreation center.
The Concerned Citizens petition is asking for a recall of three district directors ” Dan O’Connell, Beth Sands and Pete Strohecker.
Judge Hill handled the recall petition after Judge Mary Hoak, who is the district court judge for Grand County, recused herself. She is married to John Kacik, who is a director of the recreation district.
With the appointment of Holzwarth, the recall process has now been set into motion. The duty of a designated election official is to verify that those individuals who have signed the recall petitions are qualified voters who live within the recreation district’s boundaries.
According to Rudis, the Concerned Citizens group will begin gathering signatures on its recall petitions this week. A total of 300 valid signatures are needed for an election to be conducted.
“We will be collecting and verifying signatures over the next several weeks,” Rudis said. “We have to have 300 good signatures, but we’ll probably collect 350 to 400 just to be sure. Then Mr. Holzwarth will look at them and confirm which are valid.”
Once the Concerned Citizens have 300 valid signatures officially confirmed with the District Court, they will then contact the Grand County Clerk and Record Sara Rosene who will prepare a draft ballot for the recall election.
“It won’t be part of this November’s general election,” Rudis said. “It will be a stand-alone election.”
Rudis said the Concerned Citizens also plan to seek the recall of a fourth director ” John Kacik. He explained they did not file for Kacik’s recall along with the three other directors because under state law an official cannot be recalled until after he or she had served a minimum of six months. Kacik was elected to the Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District’s Board of Directors in May.
“Come this November when the six months are up, we’ll be able to file for his recall also,” Rudis said.
The Concerned Citizens are seeking the recall of McConnell, Strohecker and Kacik because they voted July 22 for the approval of a contract with the Grand Park development for the donation of 4.9 acres of its land as the site for the construction of the recreation center.
Although Sands abstained from the vote on the contract, the group also wants her recalled, claiming she had a “conflict of interest” because she was an employee of Cornerstone Holdings LLC, the developer of Grand Park.
The only director whose recall is not being sought by the group is Greg Gallavan, who voted against accepting the contract.
The controversy over the recreation center involves it being built on land donated by Grand Park. The Concerned Citizens have argued that an alternate site be found for its construction. They have also opposed clauses in the contract, including the one that requires it to be named the “Grand Park Community Recreation Center or a name that is mutually agreeable to both parties.”
The construction of the recreation center began in late August. It has a total budget of $14,942,378, paid for with part of the $19.5 million bond approved by district voters in last November’s election.