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El Paso County Colorado District 49

D 49 recall moves forward

The El Paso County Office of Clerk and Recorder certified sufficient signatures, collected by community organizers, to trigger a recall election for two Falcon School District 49 board members: Dave Martin and Kent Clawson. If the finding remains unchallenged, it will be the first recall election in El Paso County since 2006.”It’s obvious there is a lot of frustration out there or we wouldn’t have been successful,” said Tom Harold, recall organizer. “I’m proud of everyone involved and the people who stepped up and signed the petition.”Signature gatherers collected 4,300 signatures for each board member. Liz Olson, El Paso County election manager, said those who signed the petition had to be registered voters living within the D 49 boundaries. All of the information garnered from the signatures had to be accurate as well.The recall effort now enters a 15-day protest period, where any registered elector within the district can challenge the clerk and recorder’s findings, Olson said.Once the protest period ends Aug. 5, Olson said the D 49 Board of Education must set a date for a special election. The board will also determine if the election will be held by mail-in ballots or at polling places.Olson said an election by mail will cost the district $63,000; using a polling precinct would cost $68,000.Recall organizers had hoped the recall could be held in conjunction with the November school board elections. However, Olson said the law mandates the recall election take place within 75 days of the date of sufficiency. The only exception is in a general election year. Olson said a recall can be coordinated with the general election if it falls within 90 days of the date of sufficiency. This year is not a general election year.Harold said recall proponents tried their best to ensure that the recall would not cost the district extra money. He said misinformation from the county determined their start date.”Unfortunately, this is not what we wanted to have happen and now it is in the boards’ hands on how they want to (set the election),” he said.Harold said D 49 Community, the name of the recall movement, is now working to find qualified candidates to run for positions on the board.”We need to instill trust, openness and transparency in the community and get a board that invites the community as a whole to participate, and listens to them when they do,” he said.A new, fresh school board should place renewed emphasis on student achievement, Harold said. “We can’t just talk about it, but we need to get it done. We need to take this district from where it is, up to the next level.”D 49 declined to comment on the recall and Dave Martin and Kent Clawson did not respond to requests for comments. However, in a blog post at, Clawson refuted the charges the recall organizers levied against him.He said many of the claims listed on a recall flyer were unfounded and inaccurate. Because the flyer pictured Clawson and Martin at the top, it infers that the charges against the board are the sole responsibility of those two board members, Clawson wrote. And some of the instances mentioned on the flyer occurred before Clawson was elected to the board, he said.”In the end, I see this recall as all upside for me,” Clawson said. “Either my ideas are validated or they are not. Either I get my time with my family back or I go forward with a mandate. …”Mark Shook, D49 board member, said he believes the recall election is all about the November election and reshaping the face of the board. “They are looking for a philosophical regime change,” he said.Recall organizers have alleged that the board has spent district funds frivolously.”The truth is we are a fiscally conservative board that is very concerned with spending taxpayers’ money wisely,” Shook said. “We have a lot of difficult choices to make.”

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