Heicher: I don’t recall
I don’t live in Avon, but if I did, there is no way I would vote to recall Mayor Sarah Smith Hymes or Council member Tamra Nottingham Underwood. First of all, neither woman has done anything that comes close to the kind of wrongdoing that recall elections are intended to address. Secondly, I’m still kind of reeling from the 1982 Eagle Town Board recall election.
Like the Avon recall, that 1982 election came at a time of political turmoil. Nationally, the economy was tanking, and jobs were scarce. People were on edge.
Locally, the big issue was the proposed development of a major ski resort on East and West Brush Creek, a project that had been held up for 10 years by a number of factors, including a series of Town Boards that didn’t support the concept. There were other issues, also, such as a proposal for a controversial new zoning regulation (it never happened) and a fuss over a proposed neighborhood baseball park. Of course, there were a few citizens on the recall bandwagon who just didn’t like politicians or government spending of any sort.
The basis of that recall election four decades ago boiled down to the fact that most of the recall supporters had ties to the development community and would benefit financially if that ski area developed. They didn’t like the way the elected Town Board members were voting on growth issues and were determined to force three Board members out of office.
The turmoil surrounding the recall effort was ugly. Full-page ads were purchased in the newspapers, impassioned letters to the editor were written. There was a lot of behind-the-scenes manipulation, outrageous accusations, and outright hostility. It was mean-spirited. That recall election sucked the soul out of what had been a cohesive little community. It was an all-time low in Eagle’s political history.
The recall failed. All three targeted council members retained their seats. The town voters may not have been thrilled with the Town Board, but neither were they willing to support misguided attempt to kick legitimately elected officials out of office.
Unfortunately, the repercussions of a recall election last long beyond election night. The hard-working, civic-minded people who spent countless hours serving on the Town Board (for a $25 monthly paycheck) were mentally and emotionally exhausted by the mayhem. The Eagle community took at least a decade to heal. Some resentments still linger. And there is no way of determining how many other good citizens who may have been considering a future run for office gave that thought up after watching that painful election. In reality, the controversy simmered for another 17 years until the land that was once designated for ski resort development became Sylvan Lake State Park. Nobody objected to that decision.
Recall is a legitimate democratic tool intended to reinforce the government checks-and-balance system. It is not intended to be a punishment for people whose ideas are different from yours. If change is needed, vote it in at the next election.
Also, regarding the Avon recall, intentionally or not, it frankly comes across that the organizers don’t like to see capable women in positions of power. Yet another good reason to vote no on the recall.
Kathy Heicher is a longtime local who served on the Eagle Town Board in 1982 but was not a target of the recall.