An effort to gather 24,057 signatures of registered voters in Colorado Springs to force a recall election of City Councilor Wayne Williams failed. Deadline for submitted ample signatures was today, Nov. 18.
The group behind the effort, called Integrity Matters, said in a release it would now focus on defeating Williams in the mayoral contest at the April 2023 city election.
Williams tells the Indy he's grateful for the support he's received from the community.
A companion effort to gather 4,053 signatures from District 3 voters to recall Councilor Stephannie Fortune was withdrawn in recent weeks after Fortune announced she would not seek another term in April due to a recent diagnosis of leukemia.
Integrity Matters was founded in June by community activist Dana Duggan, former El Paso County GOP treasurer and unsuccessful mayoral candidate John Pitchford, open space advocate Donna Strom, and parks and open space advocate Bruce Hamilton.
In a release, the group said it had seen an "outpouring of support" from hundreds of volunteers and thousands of residents.
"We have no regrets and look forward to the pursuit of integrity in leadership and life," the release said.
The recall was motivated by the group's perception that Williams, a Republican, made "extraordinarily deceptive statements" about a public service announcement he made with Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, in July. We wrote about the issue here.
The group says it faced "politically motivated interference" with the recall effort when "the City threw up roadblock after roadblock in getting this effort off the ground including but not limited to claiming our word counts were wrong when they were not, not being in the office and having no replacement present to resolve these problems," among other obstacles.
"We complained numerous times publicly about this obstructionist behavior and are now investigating filing a complaint with the Attorney General for violating our 1st Amendment Rights," the release said. "This is just further proof we all need to vote wisely for both the Mayoral and City Council seats in April to stop this abuse of the electorate."
Integrity Matters also said the group faced a "distracted electorate" focused on the mid-term elections and the theft of over 300 of its signs.
"All of this has strengthened our resolve to focus on electing leaders who value integrity and will represent the public who voted them into office as opposed to the special interests who fund them into office," the release said.
The group vowed to use the organizational tools gained through the recall effort to have an impact in the April 2023 city election, which will choose a mayor and three at-large city councilors.
Contacted by phone, Williams says he's looking forward to the mayoral campaign.
"I never take anything for granted," he says. "We're going to be working very hard to earn the support of the people in Colorado Springs. I'm focused on a positive message. I believe voters respond more to why someone should vote for someone as opposed to the negative messages."
Pam Zubeck is a graduate from Emporia State University. She worked at the Tulsa Tribune before coming to Colorado Springs, where she spent 16 years at the Gazette and in 2009 joined Colorado Publishing House.