Avon seeks court opinion on recall effort
Recall committee alleges misdemeanors
Amid allegations of misdemeanor offenses, the town of Avon has filed a complaint in Eagle County District Court for an interpretation of a law concerning the required number of signatures required to trigger a recall petition.
The town of Avon published its intent to seek the interpretation from the district judge on a Rule 57 declaratory judgment action via a press release published on the town’s website on Tuesday.
The town is seeking the opinion “in deference to the conflicting legal interpretation from the Avon Recall Committee and the potential impact such interpretation may have on the rights of Avon citizens protected (by) the First and Fourteenth Amendment.”
Tom Ruemmler, who is coordinating correspondence for the recall committee, says various methods were used to suppress the committee’s recent petition process to recall three Avon Town Council members, but the most egregious was “when the Designated Election Official DOE (Avon’s own Town Clerk, Brenda Torres) required 496 recall signatures even though Statute § 31- 4- 502( 1)( d), C. R.S. dictates and requires a maximum of 330 signatures for multiple elected seats such as the Avon recall and despite the Colorado Secretary of State Election Department’s Policy and Procedures Manual, Chapter 15, that clearly says 300 signatures are required to recall an elected person in a non-partisan election.”
Ruemmler says other methods of recall petition suppression included “aggressively attempting to use Avon’s own police department to arrest petition circulators.”
Police Chief Greg Daly said he doesn’t view the complaints that occurred during the recall petition effort as an aggressive attempt to seek an arrest.
“There were back and forth issues between the petitioners and other members of the community, in relation to people understanding their rights and the town ordinances,” Daly said. “It became quite passionate just before the end of the recall (effort), and we were practicing fair and impartial policing, as we always do, in listening to the complaints and addressing any complaints that came up.”
Complaints included use of signs and use of the post office by the petitioners.
Daly said the police department informed the complainants that circulating petitions on U.S. Post Office property is not a town or state ordinance issue, and it will have to be addressed with the federal authorities.
Daly also said the police department informed petitioners that they could not place signs in government right of way areas.
“This is the first time that this has happened that I know of … in recent history, and there were a lot of people just trying to understand the rules and regulations,” Daly told the Vail Daily. “And we, collectively as a community, had to work through them. And the petitioners exercised their right to petition, and the people that were unhappy with that petition exercised their right to not be happy with it.”
The recall effort began in September, and after submitting signatures on October 12, the recall committee was informed that it did not have enough signatures to initiate a recall election.
The committee received an opportunity to cure the signatures deemed ineligible, and the committee re-submitted its recall petitions with signatures on Nov. 3.
The town of Avon deemed the resubmitted signatures as insufficient on Nov. 9.
The certificate insufficiency was filed “based upon the legal interpretation that the required number of signatures is 496 and the recall petitions failed to include that required number of signatures,” according to the town’s news release. “The Avon Recall Committee submitted correspondence on November 5, 2020 describing its legal interpretation that the required number of signatures is only 330.
“The Town of Avon hopes for a quick review and decision by the District Court to resolve this conflict in legal interpretations of the required number of signatures,” according to the release.