Montrose County Commissioners Fight Back Against Recall Petition

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

A movement to recall Montrose County Commissioner Bill Patterson has made it's way into the courtroom. Government officials say the recall is completely unnecessary and now, they are fighting back.

The Montrose County Commissioners say these past several weeks have been trying ones.

"It's a huge distraction and it's a totally unnecessary distraction," said Commissioner Allan Belt.

They say dealing with situation detracts them from doing their jobs.

"I sat in the courtroom and listened to them as they argued over every signature," said Commissioner Bill Patterson. "That's not a good way to spend my time nor for the constituents of our county."

They are talking about a petition that was recently filed to recall Patterson. Al Head started the petition, saying Patterson misused his position to influence airport finances. These claims were investigated by an independent group who say the charges are untrue, which makes the commissioners say the recall was never about how Patterson was doing his job.

"It's based on either a vendetta or something personal," said Commissioner Belt. "It was totally unfair and the reasons that were given were unsubstantiated."

Head turned in 5583 signatures to the court. The County Clerk only accepted 2270 of them, well short of the nearly 4000 needed to proceed.

"I'd be the first one to say yes, let's have an election, if that many people came forward," said Commissioner Patterson. "But they didn't."

County Clerk Francine Tipton-Long says she threw out those signatures because several of the circulators were not registered in the county, and many of the addresses people provided did not match with those in the county database.

Patterson says that in most cases, residents didn't understand what the petition was for when they signed it.

Head tells 11 News his signatures are valid and it is unconstitutional to throw them out. He has filed an official protest of the clerk's decision and believes the recall election still needs to happen.

Montrose residents 11 News spoke to disagree.

"I think it was totally unnecessary and all three commissioners are doing a great job," said Montrose resident Bob Jentsch.

"I think they've done a fine job," said Montrose resident Jim Renfrow. "Nothing needs to happen."

The clerk will make her final decision by the end of the month. If she does rule the signatures cannot be used, the case can be appealed to the District Court.

The Commissioners are confident they will come out on top.

"I think Mr. Patterson will prevail," said Commissioner Belt.


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