Silverton town trustees who face a recall election are firing back at those seeking their ouster, pointing out inaccuracies with petitioners’ statements and drawing attention to the confusing and ungrammatical language used in recall petitions.
Silverton residents will vote whether to recall three town trustees during a special election Oct. 12.
The organizers of the recall effort are asking for the resignation of Mayor Shane Fuhrman, Mayor Pro Tem Sallie Barney and Trustee Jordan Bierma. The recall petitions took issue with them for varied reasons, such as failure to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance, opposition to allowing off-highway vehicles in town and a general lack of keeping campaign promises.
None of the three trustees officially contested the recall election, but they have made public statements saying the petitions are chock-full of inaccuracies.
The election date was decided by a unanimous vote during a town board meeting Monday. As of Tuesday, new candidates can begin to step forward for seats that may open after the recall vote.
People who have questions about the process “are always welcome to look at Colorado Revised Statutes or they can come in and talk to me,” said Kelli Fries, Silverton town clerk.
Recall organizers Cole Davenport, Gigi Raine and Floyd Barela cited various complaints in each of the three recall petitions.
“They lied to people on their (campaign) platforms. They said they were going to do this and that for the community. They turned around and threw the community under the bus,” said Davenport, who owns the Silverton Green Works marijuana dispensary, in a previous interview with The Durango Herald.
The three trustees have disputed allegations made in the petitions, primarily via social media posts.
“After much deliberation I have decided to not protest the petition for my recall,” Bierma said in a statement to Silverton residents. “Ultimately I believe it is a further waste of taxpayer money and I would rather win or lose my recall election based on the merits of my abilities rather than the voiding of a nonsensical petition because of an individual’s willingness to lie under oath and their inability to write coherent sentences.”
Bierma disputed claims made by petitioners point-by-point. For example, the petition said: “Bierma has voted out economic growth for people who have lived or want to own a small business.”
“I have not voted out any economic growth for dead people,” Bierma said, drawing attention to petitioners’ use of the words, “people who have lived.”
He went on to say: “It is not possible for my actions as a trustee to directly affect the economic outcome of dead people. I am not an economic necromancer. It is also impossible for me to have knowledge of every person in this town who might ‘want to own a small business.’”
Petitioners accused Fuhrman of having conflicts of interest, attempting to enrich himself, not advocating for affordable housing and not standing for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Fuhrman admitted he did not stand for the pledge, but he said the other statements are “outright lies that were uninvestigated.”
In an interview with the Herald, Barney said the recall effort is a “huge waste of town resources.”
“As a group of trustees, the three of us have been consistently thoughtful and well-researched. I think we’ve handled issues with fidelity and integrity,” Barney said. “I see the recall as an overreaction to a group of elected officials doing what they were elected to do and a misuse of that tool and its role in a democracy.”
Petitioners took issue with Barney’s vote to ban off-highway vehicles in town. The petition then accused her of a lack of transparency, incompetence for not knowing how trustee meeting laws work and a lack of knowledge about community issues.
She stood by her vote against allowing OHVs on roads within Silverton town limits. Plus, the vote was legal, and the vehicles continue to be allowed in the county.
“That user group continues to have access to the town of Silverton, just not on an OHV,” she said. “I had a lot of support in voting that way from people who elected me.”
Leading up to the election, Silverton residents who want to run for a trustee position must gather at least 10 signatures from registered voters. The petitions are due Aug. 28.
Each recall process will be handled individually. New candidates have to run for a specific seat, either to replace Fuhrman, Barney or Bierma.
On Oct. 12, Silverton residents will first vote on whether to recall each trustee.
If any trustee is recalled, the election officials will look at the votes won by new candidates for that particular position. The person with the highest vote count will win the vacated seat and serve the remainder of the trustee’s term. The terms for the trustees up for recall end April 2024, Fries said.
Voters will also vote on dueling OHV ballot measures Oct. 12. They have three possibilities: ban off-highway vehicles in town, allow OHVs throughout town, or stick with current rules that allow OHVs only on designated streets.