Understand what's at stake

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There's a warning printed at the top of the petitions to recall Moffat County Commissioners Marianna Raftopoulos and Les Hampton. It says: "Do not sign the petition unless you have read or have had read to you the proposed recall measure in its entirety and understand its meaning."

Based on a conversation between two people overheard at a grocery store recently, we wonder whether people are taking the time to read the warning, much less the actual reasons for the recall.

One person said they signed the petition, even though they weren't necessarily in favor of a recall, because they thought the recall group should have the right to move forward with the recall process.

Let's get this straight: Signing the recall does not mean you support the general idea that citizens have the right to recall their elected officials. It doesn't mean you believe the Concerned Taxpayers of Moffat County should be given the opportunity to proceed with a recall. It means you agree that Raftopoulos and Hampton are guilty of the allegations listed in the petition and that if an election were held today, you would vote to strip them of their elected positions and choose someone to replace them.

This is serious stuff, folks, and not the kind of thing to be taken lightly. Signing a recall petition on a whim is no less irresponsible than going to the polls on election day without an inkling of what each candidate stands for. Your signature means you're authorizing the county to spend upwards of $20,000 on a special election at a time when the county is pinching pennies.

The recall committee has to collect signatures from a certain number of registered Moffat County voters by April 18 to force a recall election. Petitioners will have to gather 972 signatures to force a vote for Raftopoulos' seat and 1,306 signatures to force a vote for Hampton's seat.

Every signature counts, so make sure you understand what you're signing.

For the record, the petition accuses Raftopoulos and Hampton of mismanaging county funds, "causing the depletion of several million dollars in cash reserves and the resultant near bankruptcy of Moffat County."

If further alleges "an apparent misappropriation" of sales tax revenue that voters approved for capital projects, depriving citizens "of an early retirement of the Public Safety Center debt," and that proceeds from the sale of 11.73 percent of the Public Safety Center to the Colorado State Patrol were diverted to other uses instead of debt reduction.

We have given the recall committee and the targeted commissioners an opportunity to present their views on the Public Safety Center controversy. If you believe the petition's allegations are true, sign it. If you don't believe the allegations are true, or you aren't sure, don't sign it.

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