Avon Town Council approves reimbursement of recall expenses for Smith Hymes, Underwood | VailDaily.com

Avon Town Council approves reimbursement of recall expenses for Smith Hymes, Underwood

Public speaks in support of reimbursement, citing concerns that not doing so would discourage future candidates from running

The effort to recall Avon Mayor Sarah Smith Hymes and council member Tamra Underwood was rejected by over 70% of voters in November’s election.
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On Tuesday night, Avon Town Council unanimously approved the reimbursement of Mayor Sarah Smith Hymes and Council member Tamra Underwood for expenses incurred during November’s recall election.

Although the recall election failed on Nov. 2, 2021 — with over 70% of Avon voters rejecting the recall of both candidates — both Smith Hymes and Underwood each spent over $5,000 fighting and campaigning against the effort. Colorado state statute allows municipalities to reimburse candidates that are subject to a recall, and not recalled, for certain expenses related to the recall.

The ordinance authorizing the reimbursement will repay Smith Hymes for $5,500.53 and Underwood for $5,941.35. These expenses were a mixture of legal fees throughout the recall process as well as costs associated with running a campaign last fall. All of which fall within statutory requirements according to Interim Town Attorney Karl Hanlon.

And, at Tuesday’s council meeting, Smith Hymes noted that the costs of the recall went far beyond what was requested by herself and Underwood.

“I just want our council and community to understand that the cost of this recall goes far beyond the monetary cost that’s listed in that memo. Tamra and I are both self employed and we spent hundreds of hours on the recall, which meant those were hundreds of hours we were not spending on our own businesses,” Smith Hymes said, speaking before she and Underwood were recused from the discussion and vote on the ordinance.

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Smith Hymes added that it was not just her and Underwood’s time but also that of their friends and family “who carved out time from their lives to help with this process,” as well as the town staff, who’s time was also “burdened” during the recall.

While the council did not have much discussion around the approval prior to the unanimous vote, multiple members of the public did express their support for the repayment.

“It speaks to who we are as a town and who you are as a council in terms of, now you’re going to support your fellow councilors who went through all that hardship — emotional, mental and financial,” said Rich Carroll, Avon resident and former Avon Town Council member. “It also respects the will of the people that did want, and do want, Sarah and Tamra up there.”

In support of the reimbursement, several members of the public commented that not doing so would send a negative message to potential future council candidates.

“Their expenses were very reasonable and necessary to fight a very ill-conceived and unpopular recall election,” said Kristi Ferraro, Avon resident and former Avon Town Council member. “Recall mania seems to be growing in Colorado and across the country; and if we want to attract good candidates to run for council, you need to show people that the town and their fellow town council members will defend them and have their backs when they are up against these frivolous recall efforts.”

These sentiments were something echoed by Council member Lindsay Hardy, who said it was “disheartening to walk into so much drama in the town and to see the way these characters bullied our council members.”

Hardy was elected to council in November 2020, just after the start of the recall effort.

“I would not be able to afford a recall,” Hardy said. “And I want more people in my demographic to run. I think it is imperative that we move forward with this and with less drama, hopefully.”

Council will have to vote once more on the ordinance before it is officially adopted and both Smith Hymes and Underwood are reimbursed. The second reading, and vote, on the ordinance will occur at a future council meeting.

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