Mike Krull, who works at Montrose Memorial Hospital and is one of the originators of a petition currently circulating to recall commissioners Ron Henderson, David White and Gary Ellis, said the first hurdle was getting the petition accepted by the Montrose Clerk of Court.
“Hoop number one was gathering signatures (to submit the petition) and hoop number two was getting the petition approved,” Krull said. “Now we’ll see what kind of support is out there and how folks are feeling, whether they are willing to either support the recall effort or just support the process by allowing it to be put on a ballot.”
The next step, after signatures are collected on the petition, will be a review process by the county, he said.
“And hopefully then we can get on a ballot,” so people can actually get the chance to make their voices heard, Krull said.
“There’s a lot of talk (from commissioners) that ‘You’re in the minority and we’re listening to the majority,’” he said. “I personally was wondering where the majority was, and if the majority speaks, so be it.”
More volunteers and financial assistance are needed, Krull said, and people can find information online at recallmontrose.com or on Facebook under the name Recall Montrose.
The website lists three issues behind the recall: property taxes, county legal fees, and “actions against Montrose Memorial Hospital.”
Under property taxes, the website states that the Montrose County mill levy was raised in 2011 (by the commissioners) to 20.599 or “…36 to 50 percent higher than all other counties surrounding Montrose, including San Miguel.”
The complaints against the hospital also accuse the commissioners of “preventing the formation of a not-for-profit entity to protect the hospital’s tax-exempt status and preserve healthcare for the community.” (The courts recently ruled that the county had overstepped its bounds, but the county is appealing the ruling.)
The website also complains that Montrose County has incurred more than $1 million in outside legal fees fighting court cases, presumably against JetAway Aviation. The site states that all contributions will go “to making a positive change in our county.”
Krull said the petition’s signature-gatherers are taking a “low key” approach and will not be haranguing customers leaving City Market or Wal-Mart. Instead, they’ll use smaller venues, like the Mattics Fruit Stand at San Juan Avenue and East Main Street. The group will also soon have a storefront at 222 South Nevada next to the Montrose Wellness Center.
Volunteers have been going through training on how to gather signatures, Krull said, and more training will be held for future volunteers.
“Last Tuesday night we were at the Elks Lodge,” he said. “They gave us the opportunity to be there for bingo night.”
Several other offices and businesses have volunteered to have petitions signed at their locations, he said, including Chef Donn Wagner of Simmer Food and Wine.
“Small business owners are really being affected and for them to take a stand is risky,” Krull said. “But there are plenty more business owners in favor of this.”
In order to get the recall on the ballot, petitioners have to collect at least 4,493 signatures regarding Henderson, 3,012 for Ellis, and 4,385 for White.
The signatures must then be confirmed by the Montrose County Clerk’s office, and if all are validated, a recall election will be set for a later date. If an election is scheduled for the recall, another election will be held simultaneously for those seeking the commissioners’ seats.
County commissioners must set the date for the recall election, if one is held.
Once a date is set for the recall election, assuming enough signatures are validated, then potential candidates for the commissioners’ seats will have 15 days to collect enough signatures to be on the ballot. The number of signatures required for candidates depends on the last election and their political affiliation, and comes to about 20 percent of the primary election signatures for Republicans and Democrats and about 2 percent, or 750 signatures for unaffiliated candidates, which ever is lower.