Craig Moffat County leaders are reacting to recall elections in Pueblo and Colorado Springs with mixed feelings.
Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, and Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, were voted out of office in a recall election Tuesday because of their support of gun control legislation.
“It sends a very clear message to lawmakers that you work for your constituents,” said Brandi Meek, Moffat County chairwoman for the Colorado Republican executive committee.
It’s about more than gun issues, she said.
“There’s a lot of attention on this being because (of) the gun laws,” she said. But “a large part of this was because of their lack of involvement with constituents.”
Moffat County Commissioner John Kinkaid agreed with that sentiment. The recall was an example of the same sort of frustrations that are driving the secession movement, he said.
This recall election could have a strong impact on how the state Legislature approaches lawmaking, he said.
“Now that the voters have had their say, I hope that we’ll have legislation at the state Capitol that is a friend to Moffat County,” Kinkaid said. “I expect the governor and state Legislature to not be hostile to rural Colorado.”
When Kinkaid testified against the passage of Senate Bill 13-252, a bill that doubled renewable energy mandates on rural energy cooperatives, he met Morse and Giron.
“You could tell from being in the room that they were cordial — they smiled a lot — but they weren’t listening,” he said.
That’s what he hopes will change, he said.
Others think there is a better and least costly way to handle this, Craig Mayor Terry Carwile said.
Since Morse was term-limited and Giron was up for re-election in 2014, the action to recall them was not a logical choice, he said.
“It’s going to cost a lot of money, and they’re going to have another election in 2014,” Carwile said.
Overall, he said, the recall election was driven by the wrong motivation.
“Out-of-cycle elections — recall elections — unless there’s some really unethical or criminal things going on, it’s not worth the taxpayers' efforts,” Carwile said.
City Council member Gene Bilodeau also said the purpose of a recall election should be to oust a corrupt elected official, not to get rid of a politician who has different points of view.
“I think we’ve eroded the foundation of why people are elected,” Bilodeau said. “Certainly, the recall petition is valid, and I know that guns are a hotbed issue. It seems like these two (legislators) were put on a recall based on one area of voting.”
He’s concerned that this will change how legislators vote — that they will be more influenced by public interest groups than their own values.
“If you make a mistake voting out by your conscience, you’re open to recall,” he said.
It comes down to defending the right to bear arms, said Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz, who is part of the statewide sheriffs' lawsuit challenging the gun control legislation was passed this last session. His personal belief, he said, is that this is an important message to send.
“I’m somewhat surprised because usually, recall elections are tough,” he said. “But this is a huge issue about Second Amendment rights.”
Erin Fenner can be reached at 970-975-1794 or efenner@CraigDailyPress.com.