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County clerk says recall will be on Nov. 3 ballot

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By Gabrielle Porter

The recall question targeting the three conservative members of the Jeffco school board will be on the Nov. 3 general election ballot, according to a spokeswoman from the county clerk’s office.

Up until the announcement from Beth Clippinger, assistant to Jeffco Clerk Faye Griffin, it was unclear whether the county would have to schedule a special election for the ongoing efforts to recall school board members John Newkirk, Ken Witt and Julie Williams. A special election would cost more than $500,000 and would be paid for by the school district.

Jeffco United for Action, the group spearheading the recall effort, had a series of deadlines to meet in order for the recall to be on the Nov. 3 general election ballot.

“This is exactly what we were hoping for, was to be able to coordinate the existing election along with the recall election …,” said Lynea Hansen, spokeswoman for Jeffco United for Action. Hansen added that having the recall on the Nov. 3 ballot will save taxpayers’ money and boost turnout. “I think this will ensure that the most people vote.”

Despite the county clerk’s announcement, a Sept. 3 letter from Secretary of State Wayne Williams cast doubt on whether the timeline will work. Williams wrote that Griffin would need “near optimal” circumstances for the recall question to go on the regular ballot. He asked Griffin’s office to confirm that it had a plan for coordinating mailing ballots overseas and to military members at least 45 days before the election, and urged the clerk to develop a contingency plan in case any unexpected delays come up.

Clippinger could not be reached for comment before deadline after Williams’ letter was released.

Ballot centers and mail date to be announced

The Jeffco clerk’s office has yet to announce when it will send out ballots for the November election, and where ballot service centers will be. The election will be held entirely through mail-in ballots, but the service centers, which are mandated under state law, are set up throughout the county to help people who have trouble with their ballots or who have not yet registered to vote, according to Clippinger.

For the general election, the county was supposed to set up five service centers based on its population. Now that the recall question has been added, however, the county will need to have 12 centers total. The county will announce the locations and operating hours at some point.

Candidates

So far, five opponents have declared candidacies for the three recall positions.

• Brad Rupert will be opposing recall target Julie Williams in District 1

• Matthew Dhieux and Susan Harmon will oppose recall target John Newkirk in District 2

• Ron Mitchell and Paula Noonan will oppose recall target Ken Witt in District 5.

There’s still a chance that more candidates may join the race. Candidates for the recall seats must register with the secretary of state, have a petition approved by the Jeffco clerk’s office, and submit 50 valid signatures — all by Sept. 28, according to Clippinger.

None of the five recall seat candidates have submitted their signatures yet, Clippinger said.

The deadline to file for the two school board seats up for regular election has already closed. Four candidates will be running:

• Kim Johnson and Ali Lasell will compete for Jill Fellman’s seat in District 3.

• Tori Merritts and Amanda Stevens will compete for Lesley Dahlkemper’s seat in District 4.

Both Fellman and Dahlkemper decided not to run for re-election.

How the election will work

Though they represent geographic districts, school board candidates are voted on at large, which means all county residents will vote on the five seats in the Nov. 3 election.

For the recall seats, voters will vote “yes” or “no” on whether to recall Newkirk, Witt and Williams. Each will be voted on separately.

If the “yes” votes outweigh the “no” votes, then the opposition candidate with the most votes will win the seat. If the “no” votes outweigh the “yes” votes, however, the board member will retain the seats.

Contact Gabrielle Porter at Gabrielle@evergreenco.com or at 303-350-1042, or follow her on Twitter at @gabyreport. Check www.HighTimberTimes.com for updates.