“I’m disappointed,” he shares
By Kendra Walker
For the first time in Mt. Crested Butte history, a recall election to remove a council member from office may occur in the coming months. The town of Mt. Crested Butte has received a recall petition to remove council member Roman Kolodziej from the town council. If no one files a protest by November 2, then the town council will set a date for a recall election.
Kolodziej said the recall is based on misinformation and seems “vindictive.” He also is disappointed that two sitting council members signed the recall petition.
Town clerk Tiffany O’Connell determined the recall petition to be sufficient with 45 valid signatures. The petition needed 41 signatures of registered electors who are citizens of Colorado and registered to vote in Mt. Crested Butte. This number was based on 25% of the entire votes cast for all candidates for the office. The town had to go back to 2006 to determine that number, which was the last time town council members were elected, explained O’Connell. The town has not had a contested council election since then because there have not been more candidates than seats to be filled.
There is a 15-day protest period for the recall, and any protest by a registered elector in Mt. Crested Butte must be filed by November 2 at 5 p.m. O’Connell said if no protests are filed, the town council will most likely set a date for a recall election at the November 7 town council meeting.
As of press time, no one has filed a protest. The petition is represented by a petitioners’ committee that includes Mt. Crested Butte residents Michael Jennings, Torrey Carroll and Rajiv Narayana.
“We, the concerned citizens of Mt. Crested Butte have undertaken this recall petition due to our dissatisfaction with Roman Kolodziej’s representation on the Town Council. We believe that Roman Kolodziej has failed to fulfill their duties and we are left with no choice but removal from office,” the petition reads.
The recall petition is in response to the Mountain Express shifting several Mt. CB fixed bus routes to a new on-demand service. Kolodziej serves on the MTX board of directors, which approved the contract with the on-demand service provider Downtowner to implement the upcoming pilot program. A recall petition for council member and Mountain Express board member Dwayne Lehnertz was also circulating this fall; however, O’Connell confirmed that no petition has been turned in for Lehnertz.
The petition states, “Our reasons for this recall petition include but are not limited to: 1. Oversaw aggressive spending in a reduced tax revenue environment without consent from Mt. Crested Butte Town Council. 2. Lack of engagement with voting constituents on public matters. 3. Failure to represent voting constituents’ interests. 4. Oversaw the allocation of taxpayer funds from local organization to out-of-state organization without Mt. Crested Butte Town Council awareness, discussion or approval.”
If a special election occurs, Kolodziej’s question of recall will be on the ballot. The results will be determined by the number of votes cast on the question, and the council will decide on November 7 whether to do mail in ballots or in person voting. O’Connell explained that the election might also include electing someone to fill the vacancy if someone runs for the council seat. To date, O’Connell said no one has told her their plan to run for the seat.
“Overall, I’m disappointed. It feels vindictive and personal at this point,” Kolodziej shared with the Crested Butte News this week.
“I’m confused as to why out of four town councilors who voted unanimously to move this initiative, I’ve been singled out and characterized as the villain carrying out this free transportation program. It’s confusing,” he said. “Dwayne [Lehnertz] sits on the Mountain Express board and voted yes for on-demand with everybody else,” said Kolodziej.
He continued, “A small group has gotten very vocal with letters to the editor and false claims on the petition. Over the last few months, the petitioners and the people they’ve tried to rally around them have perpetuated a lack of understanding of how Mountain Express is organized, how decisions are made regarding the service, and how the on-demand service will function. This recall does nothing to change the service, it’s going to happen whether I’m there or not. We are super aware of the concerns people have brought up and are actively trying to address those.”
Kolodziej also shared his confusion and concern that two other Mt. Crested Butte council members, Steve Morris and Lehnertz, signed the petition.
Kolodziej said he is now switching gears to get factual information out to constituents. “My focus is asking people if they really think I’ve done a bad enough job to want an empty chair sitting there. My role is to serve the citizens of Mt. Crested Butte. I don’t want this to prevent me from serving the community.”