WALSENBURG, Colorado — Voters in Walsenburg will decide later this year whether to recall the city's mayor and three city council members.
Two separate petition drives succeeded in gathering enough signatures to hold a special election seeking to recall Mayor Charles Bryant, and Council Members Veronica Maes of Ward 1, and Carmen Lara and Nick Vigil of Ward 2.
A fourth council member, Greg Daniels of Ward 1, also faced recall but resigned from the board earlier this week.
The Walsenburg City Clerk's Office has set the special election for Tuesday, May 16th.
Mayor Bryant is protesting the petition against him and a protest hearing is currently scheduled for next Wednesday, March 15.
The first petition drive was initiated by a group calling themselves Positive Future For Walsenburg. They took out petitions to recall all six council members and the mayor, but only collected enough signatures to recall the four council members.
The second petition drive targeted just Mayor Bryant.
News 5 made multiple attempts to contact members of the Positive Future For Walsenburg but did not receive a reply to our email and Facebook messages.
All of the petition sheets claim the council failed, "to work cohesively and productively as a governing body."
The petition sheets accuse five council members of failing to properly administer the city's water utility, not following hiring practices for the city administrator, and rejecting an ethics policy.
The petition sheet against Councilman Daniels accused him of doing business with the city. Daniels owns a towing company and garage.
The petition against Councilman Vigil claims that he supported a city contract with Daniels' company.
Mike Eberwein is a volunteer with the second recall committee. He explained that his group began their effort against Mayor Bryant in February when some volunteers were pushed out of the first group.
"They were pretty quickly pushed out of the group. They were called hostile, primarily because they were trying to get signatures for the mayor," Eberwein said.
He attributes the discord on the city council to Bryant.
"He tries to operate from a bully pulpit and he tries to demean the rest of the city council."
Bryant declined our request for an on-camera interview and sent us a statement. He called the second recall group an anti-recall group, and pointed out that three of the council members facing recall are part of its committee potentially violating open meetings laws.
"The Positive Future for Walsenburg Committee held public petition signature drives for ALL seats and openly communicated their efforts and logic, while the "anti-recall" recall group used a half a dozen individuals in a clandestine manner to target only one seat with easily dismissible claims that do not align with the public record," the statement reads, in part.
News 5 also requested comments from all four of the council members who are facing recall.
Councilwoman Lara said in an interview that Mayor Bryant started publicly calling on her and Councilwoman Maes to resign early into their term of office.
"We had only been in office for two months and he was already asking us to resign," Lara said.
Lara is one of the three council members facing recall who is also part of the second recall committee.
She said she believes the citizens of Walsenburg will support her during the process.
"I am here and I will continue to be as long as the citizens allow me, and should I be recalled, I will still be here because I get to do citizens' comments if I'm a citizen."
Councilman Daniels was term-limited. His current term will expire at the end of the year. Community members interested in being appointed to fill the seat must submit letter's of intent to the City Clerk's Office by March 31.
Walsenburg City Council may vote as early as April 4 to choose to replace Daniels or leave the seat vacant until the regular election in November.
Watch KOAA News5 on your time, anytime with our free streaming app available for your Roku, FireTV, AppleTV and Android TV. Just search KOAA News5, download and start watching.