In the event that recall efforts against Crawford mayor Wanda Gofforth are successful, Gill Saunders will serve the remainder of her four-year term. Saunders, a former trustee, ran for mayor in April, losing to Gofforth by a single vote. He is the only one named to replace Gofforth on the recall ballot, which was mailed to registered voters last week.
Recall efforts have created a rift in the community that, "to a certain extent," is a microcosm of what is happening on a national level, said Saunders. "I believe the government is using its power to impose thoughts of what government should be on the public."
Saunders said he has known Mayor Gofforth for many years and respects her service. "She does believe in what she's doing," he said. "And she believes government is the answer." Saunders said he doesn't object to council or the mayor in general, but points to specific actions that he disagrees with.
He called the protection order filed against Crawford resident Carl Page last June a "frivolous" suit. It cost taxpayers money and attempted to ban Page, whom, he noted, town clerk Cally Gallegos called a "problem child" during the Aug. 2 hearing in Delta County Court, from meetings. The town lost the case. And while he believes council was right to support Gallegos and enter into the suit, he believes council "unlawfully" voted to do so as they were contacted individually by the mayor. They also failed to bring the issue and subsequent spending of taxpayer funds and reallocation of money before the public.
Saunders also criticized council's adoption of a six-month moratorium on discussion of marijuana as "restriction of speech." While council may not always agree with what the public has to say, "They shouldn't tell people what they can and can't bring up to council," he said.
He also said there is "general consensus" among those he has spoken to that council doesn't represent all people. He criticized the town's policy requiring citizens to go through the town clerk in order to contact trustees by email. He also criticized the timing of council's adoption in August of a fee structure for access to public information. He said he understands that fees are standard, and even necessary, but combined with restricted access to council email, it "gives the appearance they don't want people to have access to public information."
Saunders said that while it's not required, the Colorado Municipal League encourages open access to elected officials. Regardless of the outcome of the recall, he would like to see town-sponsored email addresses for all council members and have the addresses posted to the town website.