Unhappy voter explores ways to oust Basalt mayor | AspenTimes.com

Unhappy voter explores ways to oust Basalt mayor

Jacque Whitsitt

Shortly after the ink dried on the results of Tuesday’s election in Basalt, a resident unhappy with the outcome started exploring “legal mechanisms” to try to remove re-elected Mayor Jacque Whitsitt from office.

Stacey Craft, a founding organizer of the OneBasalt effort launched during the campaign with the stated goal to bring the community together, alleged in an email to Town Attorney Tom Smith on Thursday that Whitsitt had violated her “oath of office” at least three times during her first term in office.

“If Whitsitt has violated her oath of office at least three times, what is the legal mechanism to remove her from office?” Craft wrote. “Is there a rule in our town charter or in CO law that guides the town in these deliberations?”

Craft declined to discuss her interest in removing Whitsitt from office. “I don’t have anything of substance to tell you about this right now,” she wrote in an email Friday.

Whitsitt won re-election Tuesday by a slim margin over Rick Stevens.

“The election is over,” Whitsitt said Friday. “The community wants to move on. The council and I are going to move forward.”

In Craft’s email to Smith, she alleged that Whitsitt violated the open-meetings law, voted for a petition that violated the Town Home Rule Charter and Colorado laws and campaigned on public land.

It is unclear if Craft views those alleged violations as grounds for a recall attempt or if she is exploring different “mechanisms” for trying to remove Whitsitt from office.

For ammunition on the allegation of campaigning on public land, Craft relied on a rumor that Whitsitt was collecting “supporter signatures” in a pocket park in the Whole Foods parking lot. “I heard she and some other supporters were there over the weekend,” Craft wrote to Town Manager Mike Scanlon on March 23.

Craft asked Scanlon again April 6, the day after the election, if Whitsitt had permission to allegedly collect signatures on the property. Scanlon responded to her that it was his opinion that Whitsitt wasn’t required to obtain a special-events activity permit for the activities that occurred “or are purported to have occurred at Willits.”

Craft didn’t specify her other allegations against Whitsitt.

Smith responded to Craft that he gives legal advice to town officials and its employees, so he couldn’t help her. He told her she would have to consult a private attorney.

Jim Paussa, a Whitsitt supporter, said the efforts of Craft are more of the same from the campaign from supporters of Stevens.

“I think it reflects the whole general tone of attacking Jacque instead of talking about the issues that people really want to talk about,” Paussa said.

He claimed it is hypocritical for Craft to continue the battle after the election since she was allegedly working to bring Basalt together during the campaign with the OneBasalt website and effort.

“Those of us in Basalt politics for 20 years saw the OneBasalt website and just laughed at their claim of being impartial,” Paussa said. Many of the organizers listed on the website also were vocal supporters of Stevens.

Craft said in an email that OneBasalt “presented factual information about the Pan and Fork parcel through our postcard mailing and through our user-friendly website.” It also presented impartial information about the candidates, she said.

Paussa said Craft’s ongoing efforts remind him of the Japanese soldiers holding out on isolated Pacific islands several years after the end of World War II, thinking the war was still on.

“The people that were behind the website won’t let it go,” Paussa said of the election. “They don’t like Jacque. People voted for her. At some point they’re going to have to let it go.”

scondon@aspentimes.com


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