Recall effort to move forward in Avon, Colorado

A recall election against Avon Mayor Sarah Smith Hymes and Councilwoman Tamra Underwood is expected to be on the ballot in November 2021. The recall effort was initiated in August 2020 in response to the Avon Town Council deciding to leave in place a 2% real estate transfer tax, which collects $2.5 million annually.

Recall organizers had until Oct. 12, 2020, to submit 496 valid signatures for each official. There were about 600 signatures submitted against Hymes and Underwood on the day of the deadline. On Oct. 19, Avon Town Clerk Brenda Torres announced that not enough valid signatures had been submitted. Torres found 425 signatures valid in the recall effort against Underwood. There were 445 signatures validated for the Hymes recall.

Recall organizers and town officials disputed the number of signatures required for the recall effort. Torres’ calculations had undervotes counting towards the signature requirement. An undervote occurs when the number of choices selected by a voter in an election is less than the maximum number allowed for that election. An undervote also occurs when no vote is cast. Including undervotes put the signature requirement at 496 signatures, while leaving out the undervotes dropped that number down to 330 signatures.

On June 23, District Court Judge Russell Granger ruled that enough signatures had been submitted against Hymes and Underwood to put the recall elections on the ballot. The following day, members of the Avon Town Council voted 3-2 to appeal Granger’s decision. After holding a public discussion on July 13, the appeal was withdrawn with a 3-2 vote in the town council. The recall election can be scheduled after a certificate of sufficiency is submitted. Town officials expect that certificate to be filed ahead of the town council meeting on Aug. 10.

In response to the recall effort, Hymes said, “Two of the people involved in this recall ran for election last time. They could have run candidates in the 2020 election, but they didn’t think they could succeed, so they’re choosing this backdoor way. They are wasting an enormous amount of town resources in pursuit of this.”

Underwood said about the recall effort, “I essentially find it nothing but an intimidation and bullying tool to discourage people from running for council in Avon, in particular female people running for council in Avon.”

Councilwoman Amy Phillips was also targeted for recall, but that effort was found invalid because Phillips was up for re-election in November 2020.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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