Avon could withdraw its appeal of judge’s recall order
A change of heart from one council member who voted in favor of the appeal could lead to a potential new vote
The Avon Town Council’s 3-2 vote to appeal a district judge’s order telling the town to proceed with a recall election for the mayor and another council member may shift in the coming weeks.
Last week, District Court Judge Russell H. Granger ruled in favor of the Avon Recall Committee in a dispute over voter signatures, ordering the town set a date for the recall election for Mayor Sarah Smith Hymes and Council member Tamra Underwood. On Thursday, following an executive session with Town Attorney Paul Wisor, the council voted 3-2 in a special session to file an appeal of the judge’s order.
Council members Lindsay Hardy, Chico Thuon and Mayor Pro Tem Amy Phillips voted in favor of the appeal, while RJ Andrade and Scott Prince voted against the appeal. Hymes and Underwood did not participate in the meeting.
“It is not the town of Avon’s role to send this to an appeal as we have other important issues within our town that we should be dealing with,” said Prince at the open session as to why he voted against the appeal.
‘Too much to drag the town through’
However, following the council’s open session vote, Thuon had a change of heart and now wishes to change his vote.
Initially, at Thursday’s open session, Thuon said that his vote in favor of the appeal was “because I think it’s important that we set this precedent in Colorado, in the West, not to be bullied by everybody that wants a recall.”
On Monday, however, he told the Vail Daily that during Thursday’s meeting he felt that the direction from the town’s legal team was “one-directional” and didn’t represent all the sides of the problem.
“I’m not changing my mind; nobody got to me,” Thuon said. “I made the decision totally on my own, and I’m clear on what my action is now, and I wasn’t Thursday night.”
After thinking further about the issue, Thuon feels that it’s “not fair to the voters” to pursue the appeal, because there is no cap on what the town would spend in the process.
“It’s too much to drag the town through,” he said.
Wisor, on Friday, told the Vail Daily that the estimated cost of the appeal would be $15,000 to $20,000, on top of the $6,300 in litigation fees the town has incurred to date on the issue.
Thuon also said, “It’s very difficult to recall someone,” and that he doesn’t foresee either Hymes or Underwood being recalled should the recall election occur.
On the issue at hand — which is the number of signatures required to trigger a recall election — Thuon said he would like the matter to be amended in town code after the recall election is hosted to “ensure it doesn’t happen again.”
This way, he said, “We could do the same thing and not take the taxpayers’ money and time.”
Now, per Thuon’s request to Hymes, the topic will be addressed at the Tuesday, July 13, Town Council meeting as a discussion item. The topic will be open to public comment.
“This is one of the most consequential decisions that’s going to come in front of this council and future councils as it deals with voter rights,” Hymes said, adding that “it’s difficult that on an issue of this gravity, that Tamra and I have to recuse.”
Even though Hymes is recused from voting on this issue, she said that the “appeal is the only way to go.”
This meeting and agenda item will be important to “make sure that everyone understands the long and consequential impact that this will have on Avon and other Colorado communities,” Hymes said.
According to Wisor, during the July 13 meeting, any members of council who voted in favor of the motion to file an appeal will be able to make a motion to reconsider the town’s decision.
In the meantime, Wisor will continue to act on the town’s current direction and file a notice of appeal of Granger’s decision. Should council change its direction in the future, Wisor can withdraw this notice, and the town will have to conduct the recall election.
Reporter Ali Longwell can be reached at email@example.com.