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Recalls becoming more frequent part of political process

Expert says previous recall success encourages others

Recalls becoming more frequent part of political process

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Southern Coloradoans are using recalls to try to remove elected leaders they no longer want in office, and one political science professor said they could be encouraged by the success of previous recalls.

A group in El Paso County is gathering signatures to try to recall Sheriff Terry Maketa. He is accused of having inappropriate relationships with women and creating a hostile work environment.

Meanwhile, a group in Woodland Park is starting the process to recall Mayor David Turley. He is accused of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust.

"Considering the circumstances surrounding the recalls, it's not terribly surprising," political science professor Josh Dunn said.

While he's not surprised, Dunn said previous successful recalls play a factor in encouraging people to remove officials from office. Voters ousted state senators John Morse and Angela Giron, in a special recall election in September 2013. It was a response to the senators' votes on gun control laws.

"I do think, the fact that we've had two successful recalls here in Southern Colorado does increase the chances or the incentives for people to bring recall efforts against others," Dunn said. "Where, if you bring a recall effort and it doesn't succeed, then others (may say) 'well, goodness, that took a lot of time for no real result in the end.'"

Recalls also have an impact on politicians. Dunn said they will be more attune to how their constituents view their behavior and performance in office. But that's not necessarily healthy.

"In a way, you do want elected officials to be able to at least for some amount of time, to be dispassionate in their judgement and do what they think is best. That doesn't mean that they can completely ignore their constituents, and do things that their constituents completely oppose," Dunn said. "But you do want some latitude for your elected officials to weigh the different options and not immediately think, about 'Wow, is this gong to get me recalled?' I don't think that that's necessarily healthy."

Dunn said there's another downside.

"Another problem with a recall is that in a way, it diminishes the importance of the election itself," he said. "So if voters think, 'Well, we can send this person, but we can always bring them back if we don't like them.' It means that they aren't going to pay attention as they should during the election."

Still, Dunn said politicians have to consider the rights of citizens. He said we'll likely see more recall efforts or threats of recall efforts in the future.

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