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Lachelt recall supporters turn in 2,168 more signatures

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Wednesday, May 2, 2018 7:15 PM
La Plata County Clerk and Recorder Tiffany Lee Parker empties a box of recall petitions that were turned in to her office on Wednesday. Organizers of a recall petition of La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt turned in an additional 2,400 signatures. They have not yet been verified.

Recall supporters turned in an estimated 2,168 additional signatures Wednesday in their second go-around to oust La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt.

"I think we got it. I feel confident," said David Peters, one of three county residents leading the effort to recall Lachelt, a Democrat. Organizers have set up a website, Save La Plata County.

"We have a little more than 300 over," he said. "It was awfully hard work; we had a short period of time to collect about 2,000 signatures. I'm glad we got it done."

On April 17 La Plata County Clerk and Recorder Tiffany Parker determined 5,475 signatures of the 6,485 submitted in the first, 60-day collection period were verified as valid, just more than 2,000 signatures short of the 7,505 required to force the recall forward.

From the first collection period, Parker invalidated 1,010 signatures. They were rejected for a number of reasons, including missing information, duplicate signatures and incorrect address information.

"We are looking at about a 15 percent rejection rate on this," she said. "That is pretty normal for petitions. We did have 94 duplicate signatures."

An unusual provision in Colorado law allows recall supporters an additional 15-day period to collect more signatures to correct deficiencies in signatures rejected by Parker from the first collection period.

Peters returned Wednesday with the additional signatures collected during the past 15-day window.

Now, Parker will have another 15 business days to verify the new signatures. She said the verification process would go faster this time because fewer signatures have to be checked.

The valid signatures collected this time would be added to the existing haul of 6,400 valid signatures.

Lachelt thanked her supporters for organizing to block the recall.

"Every minute was worth it. We were standing for clean air and water and fighting those who are trying to silence us," she said.

She added she would pursue all challenges open to her to contest the validity of the signatures, including conducting her own verification and challenges of signatures after Parker completes her verification.

In addition, she plans to take advantage of a 15-day challenge period.

Peters, Hawkins and Cugnini launched the recall effort saying that Lachelt's work on environmental lobbying harmed her attendance at county meetings. They also said she leveraged the duties of public office as a county commissioner to advance her interests and the interests of Western Leaders Network.

Lachelt, a Democrat, formed Western Leaders Network as a nonprofit, bipartisan platform for local and state officials to connect on conservation issues.

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