On Aug. 18, the Jefferson County Clerk announced that the effort to recall three Jeffco School Board members resulted in more than 33,000 valid signatures per candidate. The number is more than twice the number of signatures required to move forward with a recall.
According to the Jeffco Clerk’s office, Jeffco United for Action collected 33,942 valid signatures on petitions to recall Jeffco School Board member Ken Witt, 34,188 signatures for John Newkirk, and 33,900 for Julie Williams. The next hurdle is the protest period, which allows any Jeffco resident to challenge whether enough signatures were collected.
Any legal challenge could delay the recall and force it off the November ballot. Jeffco United for Action representatives cautioned opponents against a challenge, noting that a successful challenge would be unlikely due to the number of signatures. “Nearly 1,200 volunteers collected over 110,000 signatures in just 17 days — a remarkable effort and we hope our opponents honor this intent,” representatives said in an email.
Witt and Newkirk both told Chalkbeat Colorado that they would not challenge the petitions. Witt’s statement also asked that no one else bring forward a legal challenge to the petitions, adding, “I am looking forward to this dialog with our fellow parents in Jeffco and the opportunity to share the successes of Jeffco Schools.”
Jeffco United for Action volunteers collected signatures during a 2-1/2 week period and turned them in to the Jeffco Clerk’s office on July 28 in hopes of securing a spot on the November ballot. That move would save the school district approximately $500,000, largely because the other two school board seats are already up for election. Organizers said there was a three-day window in which they could turn in petitions to make it most likely that the recall could be included on the November ballot, they expect to be successful in that effort provided there is no legal challenge.
Recall organizers also hired two firms to oversee the administrative side of the petitions. “This huge undertaking required professional support to create the petitions, coordinate the printing of the petitions, training of the volunteers, securing locations and volunteers for all of the parks and processing the petitions when they came back in. This work was done by Black Diamond and Strategies 360,” representatives from Jeffco United said in an email.
The work was paid for by contributions to Jeffco United for Action. Information about Jeffco United for Action’s contributions and expenditures are available on the Secretary of State website.
Supporters of Witt, Newkirk and Williams also launched a committee and website to support the three called Kids Are First Jeffco. The committee and website are sponsored by the Independence Institute, who also released a commercial featuring Julie Williams and her children. The commercial is being shown on local and cable television this week.
After Tuesday’s announcement, former Jeffco School Board member Paula Noonan filed paperwork to run for Witt’s seat. Noonan served on the Jeffco School board from 2009-2013, but did not run again in 2013.