Grand Lake recall set for vote
Town trustees schedule October ballot following decision that petition is valid
An effort to recall Grand Lake Mayor Steve Kudron will go to voters this fall after a hearing officer ruled in favor of those pushing the mayor’s removal.
The recall petition filed in May by Diane Mahoney, Craig Wilkerson, Janice Bruton and Kathy Weydert accuses Kudron of poor leadership, bad planning, fiscal irresponsibility and abuses of power. The petitioners also allege the mayor has ignored the community’s wishes and stifled public participation since taking office in April 2020.
The mayor and a group of his supporters have vigorously disputed the petition and attacked the accusations contained within it, along with some of the people who’ve signed on to the document, pointing out a number of former town leaders and saying they are trying to continue to exert control over town policy.
Following the recall petition, Suzi Maki, James Peterson and Virginia Wilkinson filed protests against the recall effort, claiming actions taken by the petitioners to obtain signatures were misleading and not factual.
The protest forced an administrative hearing on July 7 with Karen Goldman, an independent officer experienced in recall efforts across Colorado, presiding over it. During the hearing, the mayor’s supports offered second-hand testimony that a number of people who signed the petition had never read it, and Kudron asserted people who’ve previously held office have turned town code into a weapon by misrepresenting his actions as mayor.
The two issues under consideration during the protest hearing concerned the actions the petition circulators took when circulating the petition, specifically that people signing were not permitted to read the petition and that the petitioners made false statements, and if the grounds for protest listed on the recall petition were false.
Countering the mayor and his supporters, Tom Weydert spoke on behalf of the petitioners as he referenced a 2017 recall effort in Broomfield and said the merits of the petition were for voters to decide.
Releasing her decision on Monday, Goldman agreed with Weydert as she determined the recall petition was valid.
“The hearing officer determines that the protesters failed to provide sufficient evidence that the petitioners acted in a deliberate manner to mislead persons into signing the petitions,” Goldman wrote in her conclusion.
“The hearing officer further finds that, while the grounds listed on the petition are in dispute as to their accuracy and truthfulness, the only persons who can determine the ‘truth’ are the voters when signing the recall petition.”
With news the recall should proceed, Grand Lake trustees during their Monday meeting were presented two options for scheduling the recall — Sept. 28 or Oct. 5. The timeframe is hemmed in by state mandates, though the schedule must allow potential candidates time to obtain the necessary signatures to run in the recall election.
After discussions with Mayor Kudron waiting outside the room, trustees opted for Oct. 5. They picked the later to allow more time to complete the recall ballot and handle any complications with items like candidates’ signatures.
On Monday, Tom Weydert told trustees the petitioners had no issues with the Oct. 5 timeline. After the meeting, Weydert said he was pleased with the hearing officer’s decision.
Once printed, the recall ballot will feature two questions for voters. The first will ask if they wish to remove Mayor Kudron. The second question will list potential replacements.
On Monday, Town Manager John Crone told trustees that Grand Lake is looking at a mail-in ballot.
Electors will be encouraged to fill out both questions on the recall ballot even if they vote against removing Kudron from office. The reasoning behind that is should the recall pass, those who vote against it will still have a say in the election.
As discussed Monday, candidates for mayor will have until July 30 to file to run. Anyone considering running should reach out to Town Clerk Jennifer Thompson via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a video of Mayor Steve Kudron’s response to the recall petition, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIO54su-NN0.
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The Colorado Department of Transportation has closed Colorado Highway 125 in Grand County with no estimated timetable for reopening.