Only one candidate will run to replace Avon mayor in recall vote

Beatriz Bustamante files a petition to run for a Town Council seat if Sarah Smith Hymes is recalled

The Avon recall election is set to take place with general election in November.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

For the upcoming Nov. 2 recall election in Avon, residents were given the opportunity to run for the Town Council seats of Mayor Sarah Smith Hymes or Tamra Underwood if either recall proved successful. However, only one candidate submitted a petition by the deadline to be considered as a replacement.

Beatriz Bustamante filed a petition to run for a town council seat in the event that Sarah Smith Hymes is recalled in November. Should voters decide to recall Smith Hymes, Bustamante would be elected as an Avon Town Council member, so long as she receives at least one vote.

No candidates filed a petition to run in the event that Underwood is recalled. If Underwood is recalled, there would be a vacancy for her Town Council seat and council would be required to appoint someone to her position within 75 days of the election results being certified.

Also on the ballot will be a 200-word summary, provided by the Avon Recall Committee, which includes the entity’s reasons for seeking the recall of Smith Hymes and Underwood.

In this summary, the committee cites that the council members have been “acting contrary to Avon residents’ desires,” referencing the Hahnewald Barn controversy. It also cites that the council members have “not eliminated a 2% Avon real estate transfer tax,” calling the tax a “huge additional tax” that could cause real estate sales to fall through.

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In response, Smith Hymes and Underwood will also have the opportunity to provide a 300-word justification of why they should stay in office for the ballot.

In Underwood’s statement, she references her “abundance of homegrown pride” having lived in Avon for “nearly 50 years.”

“The work I’ve carried out alongside my fellow council members is far greater and more substantive than the issues I’m being attacked for,” the statement reads.

In Smith Hymes’ statement, she writes that during her last seven years on town council, she has led in “COVID response, water management and drought planning, affordable housing, climate action, public lands access, transportation and collaboration.”

Smith Hymes calls the grounds for recall “baseless,” and says that voting to recall would “send a message to future candidates that you will not tolerate frivolous recall efforts to overturn regular election results and suppress voting rights.”

Both statements directly respond to the reasons listed in the Avon Recall Committee’s statement. Both Underwood and Smith Hymes write that while they did initially support repurposing the barn, they opted to let it be demolished after a community survey showed that was what residents wanted.

Of the real estate transfer tax, Underwood wrote that “all councilors agree that it’s the essential revenue source to fund the town’s capital expenditures.”

Smith Hymes’ statement adds that the tax has been supported by Avon town councils for 40 years and calls it “unjust” to “single out any councilor for recall or a policy supported by the entire council.”

Of the reasons themselves, Smith Hymes wrote that “policy differences shouldn’t be grounds for recall.”

Both Smith Hymes and Underwood were elected to Town Council in Nov. 2018 and have one year left in their terms. This is Smith Hymes’ second term on council.

Earlier this year, several members of the Avon Town Council alluded to the fact that the recall effort was a way to get members of the Avon Recall Committee, or those that share their views, elected to the council in a backdoor manner.

In her ballot statement, Smith Hymes wrote that “there is ample and timely opportunity for those who oppose the direction of Council to run for office themselves, or support candidates who share their views.”

None of the Avon Recall Committee members, or anyone associated with the group, filed a petition to run in the election.

At the Aug. 10 Town Council meeting, Tom Ruemmler, who has worked with the Recall Committee since the beginning of its effort, said that neither he nor members of the committee were intending to run. Ruemmler had run previously for a seat on the council in 2018 but failed to obtain enough votes to win a seat. Adrienne Perer, another member of the recall committee, also ran at that time but was not elected.

“You’ve been violating our voter rights, over and over again. And that’s what this petition is about; it has nothing to do with gender or getting in the back door,” Ruemmler said. “I’m not going to rerun; I don’t want to be associated with people that have this type of ethics and morals. The other people that I know that ran before, they don’t want to be associated with them either.”

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