Mark Romanowski recall, Johnstown, Colorado (2011)

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A vote about whether to recall Mark Romanowski from his position as mayor of Johnstown, Colorado, took place on January 11, 2011, after petitions requesting the recall election were submitted on September 15, 2010 to the municipal town clerk.[1] The recall effort was defeated, and Romanowski was retained in office.[2]

Election results

  • Votes to recall Romanowski: 548 Defeatedd
  • Votes to retain Romanowski: 862

Romanowski was first elected to the Johnstown Town Council in April 2004. In April 2008, he defeated the incumbent mayor Troy Mellon 190 - 146. His current four-year term ends in April 2012, unless he is recalled. [3]

Reasons for Recall Cited

According to the Johnstown Breeze, the five reasons for recall of Romanowski cited by the recall committee were:

  1. Since beginning of the revitalization for the town, Mayor Romanowski has misrepresented and been vague about what the project will actually accomplish.
  2. Mayor Romanowski has ignored suggestions and comments from the merchants and businesses which will be the most affected under the current guidelines of the revitalization effort.
  3. Mayor Romanowski has refused to acknowledge the large number of Johnstown residents who oppose the implementation of parallel parking on Parish Avenue. He has not taken into consideration the long-terms effects on parking given the reduction in the number of parking spaces in the downtown area if his proposal is initiated.
  4. Mayor Romanowski is out of touch with, and makes no effort to understand, the concerns and needs of business owners in the small-town environment,
  5. The fact that Mayor Romanowski also holds the position as head of the Revitalization Task Force is a direct conflict of interest. The revitalization of downtown Johnstown cannot move forward in a positive manner under his direction.[4]

Petition Form Approved

The petition form was approved for circulation by the town clerk on July 20, 2010.[5]

Petition Submitted

Eighty-four signatures were required to be submitted by the committee, and the committee submitted 138 in total. The recall committee submitted the first set of petitions on September 15, with the final submission of additional petitions on September 20. One of the submitted petitions was withdrawn by the circulator because it had been left unattended for people to sign at an elementary school. The town clerk certified the petitions on September 21, 2010.[6]

Petition Challenged

On September 23, Rebecca Romanowski, the wife of Mayor Mark Romanowski, filed a protest with the town clerk in connection with the recall attempt against her husband. The town clerk asked the town council to set a hearing date of October 7 and to appoint a hearing officer.

Romanowski challenged the validity of the recall petitions that were submitted. According to the Johnstown Breeze, the reasons included:

  • The petition was collected fraudulently, showing a pattern of deceit.
  • All signatures on the petition were not affixed in the presence of the circulator.
  • Some signers of the petition were intentionally misled about the purpose of the petition.
  • The petition was left on counters at businesses to be signed without the circulator present to witness signatures.
  • The petition was signed by persons without the proposed measure being read in its entirety and meaning understood.
  • The proposed measure was not made available to all persons signing the petition.
  • Petitions were circulated and signatures witnessed by someone other than the person signing the affidavit as circulator.[7]

Recall protest hearing

On October 7, 2010, a hearing was convened by Municipal Judge Michael Lazar in the council chambers of Johnstown Town Hall. Judge Lazar was appointed as the hearing officer by the Town Council on October 4. Before receiving testimony, Judge Lazer cited MIRANDETTE v. PUGH (Colorado Court of Appeals, Div. IV, 96CA1051) where the hearing officer is enjoined as follows; "The right of recall is a fundamental right of the People. Statutes governing this right are to be liberally construed in favor of exercising such right, and any limitations on this power must be strictly construed."

Judge Lazar then outlined the format of the hearing. The protester would be able to call witnesses; those witnesses would then be cross-examined by a member of the recall committee. Several witnesses were then called by Rebecca Romanowski to offer testimony in support of the challenge to the petitions. Two individuals testified that they signed the petitions without reading them, thinking that the petitions were in opposition to the parallel parking. Under questioning by Judge Lazar, both individuals acknowledged that they did not see the statement on the top of each signature page stating that it was a petition to recall the mayor. Both individuals also acknowledged that they could read and understand English. One circulator acknowledged that one signature was not given in his presence, and he failed to strike it out before submitting the petition. The recall committee called no witnesses of their own.[8][9]

Recall protest ruling

On October 12, 2010, Municipal Judge Michael Lazar issued his written decision. Judge Lazar found that two signatures on certain petitions could not be counted because they were not signed in the presence of the designated circulator of the petition. However, there were sufficient other signatures to meet the required number (84). As to the charges that petitioners misled people into signing the petition, Judge Lazar wrote:

“There was no credible evidence that any of the signers of the petition were intentionally misled concerning the purpose of the petition. It should be clear to anyone who reviews the petition or any section of the petition that the purpose of the petition was to recall Mark Romanowski from the office of mayor. The purpose of the petition is in bold print on each page of the petition, with the exception of the affidavit to be signed by the circulator. The hearing officer finds no merit in the argument that persons signing the petition did not understand the meaning or purpose of the petition. Of course, it is quite possible that there were persons who signed the petition who chose not to read the content of the petition, however, that cannot be held against the parties who have circulated the petition.” [10]

Recall election date set

On October 18, 2010, the Town Council scheduled a recall election for Tuesday, January 11, 2011. Voting took place on from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Johnstown Community Center, 101 W. Charlotte.[11]

See also

External links

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References