Menconi faces second recall effort
VAIL ” County Commissioner Arn Menconi should be removed from office because he ignores the wishes of voters and is fiscally irresponsible, says a leader of a group that is mounting an effort to recall him.
“Mr. Menconi is a danger to our community,” wrote Mike Reid, a Vail resident, who identified himself as a leader of a group that’s trying to recall Menconi.
Reid responded to interview questions by e-mail.
Menconi said the grounds for the recall attempt are unfounded and he doubts the group will gather enough signatures.
“I’m actually glad that they are trying to do this,” Menconi said. “Right now, it would be next to impossible for somebody to get enough signatures.”
An attempt at a recall brings more attention to his efforts to fund early-childhood development, Menconi said.
A flyer with Reid’s name and e-mail address that has been circulated via e-mail outlines a plan to organize a campaign to gather signatures to force a recall vote. “Anybody But Menconi” is repeated in the flyer.
To force a recall election of Menconi, 4,367 signatures would be needed, Eagle County Clerk and Recorder Teak Simonton said. A recall petition process has not formally begun, Simonton said.
The group wants a recall election to be part of the November general election, Reid said. According to the flyer, the group plans to gather 4,700 signatures from July 15 through Sept. 14.
Reid said Menconi ignored voters when he voted to approve money for early-childhood education, even after voters rejected a tax for that purpose in November.
“Mr. Menconi is not responsive to the will of the voters,” Reid wrote. “Mr. Menconi forgets who he works for.”
Reid said Menconi also forced a second home-rule election after voters rejected the proposal in November. Menconi voted, along with the other commissioners, to put home rule on the ballot a second time. However, Menconi said he did not support a second election for home rule.
Menconi, a Democrat who lives in Eagle, was first elected in 2000 and was re-elected in 2004. Term limits will prevent him from running again in the 2008 election.
Reid said his group cannot tolerate the “fiscal irresponsibility” of Menconi until November 2008.
A majority of the community would like to see Menconi gone, including prominent people and “regular” people, Reid said. Reid declined to identify other organizers or supporters of the effort.
The effort is “not about parties” and it does not matter who replaces Menconi, Reid said.
The recall supporters don’t understand representative government, Menconi said.
“I got elected on a platform about early-childhood development,” he said. “I made that very clear in my second and first term.”
Polls, experts and studies back up the need for early-childhood funds, he said.
Menconi and the other two commissioners voted in April to approve $822,759 in funding for early-childhood programs, months after voters soundly rejected $3.5 million in early-childhood funding.
“I would be delinquent of my duty, I would be out of integrity, I would be not taking a stand for kids under the age of 9 if I didn’t go forward with it,” Menconi said.
Menconi said he’s a lightning rod because he fights for “social justice.”
“This is the time, the opportunity, because we live in a valley where we’re creating a third-world country between the haves and the have-nots,” he said. “People like the Reids don’t understand that. They have their heads in the sand when it comes to that.”
Menconi was also the target of a recall effort in 2001. That effort sprang from Menconi’s refusal to sign a resolution of support for President Bush following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Backers were not able to gather the required 3,500 signatures.
But there is more support for this recall effort, Reid wrote.
Mike Lederhause, a northwest Eagle County resident who ran for county commissioner last year, said this recall effort is worthwhile and he would vote to recall Menconi.
“You bet,” he said.
He cited Menconi’s actions regarding early-childhood education funding.
“The voters said ‘no,'” he said. “And the commissioners didn’t understand.”
New New Wallace, a Menconi supporter and co-chairwoman of the Eagle County Democrats, said a recall is a waste of effort and will create “negativity.”
She also said she doubts that the group will collect enough signatures. Menconi has been a good commissioner, she said.
“I really do think this man has done a lot of hard work for the county,” she said.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.