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Petitioners forge forward with recall efforts

Petitioners forge forward with recall efforts

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. - Days after recall organizers got the green light to forge forward with recall efforts for El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, petitioners urged voters to support their cause.

Organizers posted outside of the El Paso County courthouse Monday, saying they want their own justice.  Francis McCargar worked for the Sheriff's Office for 19 years. At the time, he was Maketa's superior.

"I evaluated Terry on several occassions," McCargar said.  "We did the six-month evaluation and I had no problem evaluating him. He was a decent deputy."

McCargar said it bothers him that Maketa has allegedly violated the sheriff's code of conduct.  Maketa is accused of creating a hostile work environment, having inappropriate relationships with three female employees and promoting them to positions they didn't earn, and misusing taxpayer money.  Although being asked by the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners to resign, he has maintained that he won't.

"It's the principle of this thing that bothers me more than anything else," McCargar said.  "He may think, and someone else may think, that he's got privacy rights, but public officials have no privacy rights."

Petitioners must collect 44,387 valid signatures by July 13 to trigger a recall vote. Then, the Clerk and Recorder's Office has 15 days to verify the signatures. If the signatures are verified, there is a 15-day protest period.  

If the signatures are valid, the sheriff would have a few days to resign and avoid a recall election. Otherwise, the recall election would take place along with November's election, two months before Maketa's term ends.

The Clerk and Recorder's Office said the process will cost about $20,000, most of which will be to hire temporary staff to verify the signatures on time. A spokesperson said the cost is relatively low since there will already be a November election.

As of Monday morning, petition organizers said they had collected roughly 1,700 signatures.  An estimated four out of five of the recall supporters are women.

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