The Westminster recall committee is considering legal action as a last-ditch effort to salvage its fight. Committee members didn't detail the nature of such legal action, except that the aim is to …
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The Westminster recall committee is considering legal action as a last-ditch effort to salvage its fight.
Committee members didn't detail the nature of such legal action, except that the aim is to reverse a recent city clerk decision. After the committee refiled petitions Nov. 30, City Clerk Michelle Parker's office issued a final certification of insufficiency.
A recall petition for Mayor Herb Atchison had 790 too few valid signatures, and a petition for Mayor Pro Tem Anita Seitz required 1,326 more signatures. At least 650 more residents needed to sign a petition for Councilwoman Kathryn Skulley and 1,180 more people needed to sign a petition for Councilman Jon Voelz. If any, or all, the petitions contained enough valid signatures, there would have been city-wide recall elections.
The Westminster Water Warriors, the self-identified recall committee, aren't convinced of the loss, though.
“Technicalities won't silence us, as we are 6,700 strong. Our fight does not stop here,” the group posted on Facebook.
The “6,700 strong” is a reference to new signatures the committee collected after the initial deadline to turn in petitions.
The group wants to recall the four councilors for supporting water rate increases in 2018. According to the city's website, Voelz wasn't on the council when councilors voted to increase rates. City staff and councilors said the rate increases were necessary to finance the maintenance of existing water infrastructure.
Ultimately, the petitions failed. Parker deemed some signatures invalid for belonging to people not registered to vote, or the “name (was) not consistent,” according to an amended certification of insufficiency dated Dec. 10. An attachment to the amended certification displays the exact signatures the clerk's office deemed invalid.
The Water Warriors dispute this reasoning. After the initial submission, the recall committee claims the clerk disqualified entire sections of petitions for unlawful reasons. They also said some of the signatures declared invalid were valid, according to a post on a fundraising website.
“We're not happy that our voices are being thrown out and not being heard,” said Deborah Teter, a recall committee member. Teter said she's meeting with the group's attorney, Scott Gessler, Saturday, Dec. 12, to discuss potential next steps. Because the clerk's decision is final, the only option remaining is for the Water Warriors to take the city to court, Teter said.
The recall committee launched a campaign to raise $5,000 for legal fees.
Seitz, Skulley and Voelz couldn't be reached for comment. In an email, Atchison said, “The report from the city clerk's office speaks for itself, and I don't have any other comments.”
Meanwhile, the city is looking to move forward and quell the distrust that residents have about city water. Council voted in June to not raise rates next year. A city spokesperson said Westminster is “proud to operate a utility that is owned by our community and look forward to working with residents to provide safe, high-quality water services at a reasonable cost.”
The city will hold a study session on water and community engagement for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 15.
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