Colorado

Jun 12, 2014 8:53 PM by Zach Thaxton

Supporters, opponents rally face-to-face for, against Sheriff Maketa

Supporters and opponents rallied simultaneously for and against El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa at Sheriff's headquarters in downtown Colorado Springs.  The groups organized the coinciding rallies amid a cloud of controversy surrounding Maketa's alleged affairs with subordinates whom he purportedly promoted in spite of lax qualifications, accusations of creating a hostile work environment, and stripping virtually all oversight of his office's budget.

Supporters outnumbered opponents by a roughly 4-to-1 margin during most of the rally.  Supporters argue Maketa is the subject of a witch hunt, wrongly convicted in the court of public opinion before an independent investigation can be completed.  "He has stood for our rights for many years, for three terms," said supporter Anne Marie Gary.  "It's our turn to stand up for him."

"Until the investigation is over, he's innocent in my book," said supporter Cecilia Greenhalgh.  Fellow supporter Gale 'Sonny' Clark says Maketa should be forgiven for his admitted "inappropriate behavior in the past."  "I just think he's a good man," Clark said.  "He just got fouled up.  A lot of people get fouled up."

Opponents, of whom there were between eight and a dozen compared to more than 40 supporters, say the accusations against Maketa have compromised the integrity of the office and severely hindered his ability to lead.  "Honestly, there's too much surrounding Mr. Maketa personally for him to be able to perform his job successfully," said opponent Rebecca Duran.  "It would be nice if he just had personal accountability, steps aside, and let someone step in and do the job for him."  El Paso County Commissioners have called on Maketa to resign immediately.  Opponents at the rally echoed that charge.

Fellow opponent Randy Stegner promised to launch a recall effort against Maketa.  "Mr. Maketa has said repeatedly that he won't resign.  That's fine," Stegner said.  "If the recall is successful, and we believe it will be, the election in November will change that position of him not resigning."

The paperwork to begin the recall process was delivered to the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office Thursday afternoon, but within hours, office spokesman Ryan Parsell issued a media release stating that "the draft recall petition did not meet legal standards and was rejected." The paperwork can be resubmitted as early as Friday with corrections and receive another review as to whether it meets legal standards.

Aside from occasional shouting matches between supporters and opponents, the dual rallies remained non-violent and there were no arrests.  Sheriff Maketa's wife and daughter were in attendance, but did not speak with reporters.

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