New rules for recalls? |

New rules for recalls?

John Colson

Pitkin County is investigating the need for rules to govern the circumstances under which an elected official can be recalled.

With Commissioner Mick Ireland facing a recall election brought about by foes who say he should be removed from office because he’s rude, a group of county advisers is wondering if the county needs to set some parameters on the recall process.

But for now, the matter is in the hands of County Attorney John Ely, who predicts he will be too busy to work on it for some time.

The county’s Home Rule Charter Commission, originally impaneled to write the home rule charter back in the late 1970s, is periodically brought to life to examine issues and questions surrounding interpretations or modifications to the charter.

Earlier this year, the charter commission began looking into a proposal to rescind term limits for certain Pitkin County elective offices, including possibly the jobs of sheriff, clerk and assessor.

It was during discussion of that idea that the issue of recall campaigns came up, according to commission co-chair Eve Homeyer.

“I don’t think you can ever tell people they can’t recall,” Homeyer said last week. “Then they can riot in the streets,” she added with a chuckle.

But, she continued, the charter commission members concluded it may be possible to come up with guidelines governing the acceptable reasons for mounting a recall campaign against an elected official.

“We were thinking it would have to have something to do with the performance on the job,” she said. “We wanted to say you can’t recall somebody just because you don’t like the way he holds his mouth, which is what is happening now.”

Homeyer explained that she personally does not support the current recall campaign against Ireland. Its organizers say Ireland’s rude behavior toward some citizens sparked their effort.

Homeyer, however, said some citizens have behaved as rudely, if not more so, than Ireland, in her opinion, and that the whole “rudeness” issue is not a sufficient reason for a recall.

As for somehow defining the allowed justifications for initiating a recall campaign, she said the charter commission is waiting for information from Ely concerning the legalities involved before making any recommendations to the county commissioners.

Ely said last week that he is “incredibly busy” with matters pertaining to regular county business, as well as an investigation into alleged improprieties by a staffer at the Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority. He said he was not sure when he would report back to the charter commission on either the term limits issue or the recall question.

The home rule charter, created in 1978, lays out the rules and regulations for the general operations of the county government.

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