Jeffrey Evans’ recall campaign is steeped in dishonesty
When Jeffrey Evans launched his recall campaign against four of the five Pitkin County commissioners at the end of August, he made it very clear why he felt a recall was required.
The commissioners, said Evans, had ignored a “mandate” from the county’s voters to hold an election on a proposed rail system in November 1999. That mandate, said Evans, had come in an election last year, when the voters had approved a measure that Evans himself had written and placed on the county ballot through a petition drive. By ignoring that mandate, said Evans, the commissioners were destroying the integrity of the democratic process and there was no recourse except to recall them from office.
Now then, this newspaper has already made its position on Evans’ recall effort very clear. We think it is ill-considered – indeed, we think it is far worse than that. We actually agree that the 1998 election results did indicate that the voters wanted a rail election this fall. We agree – and have stated in several editorials – that such an election should be held. But we also feel that the commissioners’ decision not to hold such an election this fall was a legitimate and justifiable one – and if the voters disapproved, they would have ample opportunity to express their disapproval at the next county election, by voting a new board into office. That, in fact, is the essence of the democratic process.
These are thoughts that we have already expressed and, normally, we would not feel a need to repeat them or to comment further on the same subject. However, a recent review of Evans’ own comments and advertisements before last year’s election (a review detailed in an article on the front page of this newspaper) cries out for further comment.
That review reveals a basic dishonesty in Evans’ recall arguments.
We need to take a moment here to recount – for those who may have forgotten – the actual content of the ballot question that Evans presented and the voters approved in November 1998. That question stated that unless financing for a rail system was approved “through public referendum” before November 3, 1999, the county would have to “refrain from making further expenditures for rail studies.”
Yes, that question does mention an election. No, that question does not require such an election.
But, more to the point, none of Evans own comments or ads during the heated election campaign focuses on any such election. Instead, Evans, and the various groups that supported him, hammered away time and time again on the point that this was an election to “limit rail studies.” There were certainly plenty of opportunities for Evans to make it clear in the dozens – if not hundreds – of advertisements, interviews and letters that this was a vote to require a rail election in 1999. But Jeffrey Evans never did that. For him to now declare that “everyone knew” what the election meant, despite the fact that this meaning was not included in the language of the ballot question or in any of his ads, letters or interviews is itself something that is very clear:
It is dishonest. Deeply dishonest.
Evans could have written his ballot question to require an election – but he chose not to do that.
He could have made it clear in his campaign that this was a vote to require an election – but he chose not to do that.
He also could have accepted the fact that if the voters disapproved of the commissioners’ actions they could make their feelings clear through the normal course of the democratic process – but he chose not to do that either.
Instead, fueled by his own personal bitterness and rage, he has chosen to disrupt local government and to distract the commissioners and the voters from more important matters at hand, simply to indulge his own thirst for power and carry on a long-standing vendetta.
It is Jeffrey Evans who is dishonoring and destroying the integrity of the democratic process. We urge all Pitkin County citizens – no matter how they may feel on the issue of a rail system for the valley – to refuse to support the politics of destruction, dishonesty and hatred and to refrain from signing the recall petitions.
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