Group sets date for recall meeting

An informal group that came together last week to discuss recalling two Moffat County commissioners has scheduled a public meeting in two weeks to outline specific reasons of why the commissioners should be dismissed, form a committee to conduct a petition drive and take names of potential candidates.

Lolly Hathhorn, who organized and conducted last week's closed-door meeting of about 30 residents, has set a meeting for 7 p.m., Feb. 13 at the Shadow Mountain Clubhouse.

Hathhorn said different people would be appointed to give presentations on several hot button issues in Moffat County that they believe have been mishandled by Moffat County commissioners Marianna Raftopoulos and Les Hampton.

A few of those issues include the NC Telecom contract, the public safety center, hiring of an EMS coordinator for western Moffat County, travel expenditures and the hiring of several new positions in county government in recent years.

The meeting is open to the public and the two commissioners being subjected to a possible recall will be allowed to attend.

But Hathhorn said the purpose of the meeting is not to put the commissioners on the stand for questioning.

"It is not going to be a forum for them to defend themselves," Hathhorn said. "We're on a fact-finding mission and we want to inform the public of what's going on."

Hathhorn said she has received significant feedback from the community since undertaking the effort.

"The response for a recall has been overwhelming, and we need to inform these people of exactly what's going on," she said.

But Raftopoulos said the response has been "overwhelming" on the other side of the issue since the news broke that a recall effort might be underway.

"It's an honor to represent the citizens of Moffat County and I hold that in the highest respect," she said. "I've received an overwhelming amount of support the last couple of days."

Raftopoulos said she thought there has been a "gross" misrepresentation of the facts so far, and said the attacks that the commissioners have not been fiscally responsible are incorrect.

"We are financially sound," she said of county government. "We do everything in a public process and we do it in a financially sound manner."

Hathhorn said the public indicated that it wanted a change in electing Moffat County Commissioner Darryl Steele in a landslide vote.

"The taxpayers spoke when they voted Darryl Steele in," she said.

Steele, during his campaign, spoke out on several issues of which he did not approve, including creating the EMS coordinator position, the NC Telecom contract and a need to cut down on "upper-level bureaucracy" in Moffat County government.

On his first day in office, Steele put forth a county reorganization plan in which he made 11 motions, none of which were seconded by the other two commissioners.

But Raftopoulos noted that each of Steele's 11 proposals would be agenda items in the next three Moffat County commission meetings.

She said she and Hampton were not disregarding Steele's proposals, but simply could not take action on them because they were not agenda items publicized before hand.

"We stated that we are going to look at them," Raftopoulos said.

She said she was confident that despite philosophical differences on running county government, the new board could cooperate.

"We're going to work together but it takes time to get that group to work together," Raftopoulos said.

But Hathhorn said information would be shared at the meeting in two weeks that will justify a recall.

"We're not trying to make them look bad," she said. "They did that themselves. The facts speak for themselves."

More than 30 people attended an informal meeting last week at the Craig Holiday Inn.

Those in attendance discussed what must be done to initiate a recall and decided the next step should be to hold a meeting open to the public.

In the meeting, Jim Hixson, who lost to Raftopoulos in the 2000 primary election, said he would run against her again in a recall election.

Josh Nichols can be reached at 824-7031 or jnichols@craigdailypress.com.

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