Reject recall in Broomfield
We’ve long held that the use of recall — a vote to oust officials from office early — should be reserved for instances of malfeasance, corruption or wrongdoing. Broomfield Mayor Pro Tem Greg Stokes is accused of nothing of the sort.
Stokes has become the target of recall in large part for his public policy votes as a member of the Broomfield City Council that, his critics say, have “failed to support oil and gas local control.”
There is already a way for voters to speak on that issue and that’s through the November election. As was the case in the 2013 recall efforts of Democrats who supported gun-control laws, the 2015 recalls of conservative Jefferson County school board members and the 2016 recall effort of a Thornton City Council member over oil and gas issues, we oppose the recall effort of Stokes.
We urge voters to vote “no” on or before July 18.
Yes, the power of recall is an important tool for voters. We would have supported a recall of former El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, who is now on trial for corruption, but his term ended just as the scandal over his bad behavior in office was breaking.
What is happening in Broomfield is an abuse of recall power to make a political statement rather than recall’s intended purpose of removing hooligans from office. The point is dramatically made by the fact Stokes, because he is term-limited, is already on his way out the door.
The Broomfield recall is a proxy battle for the conflict between Denver Front Range communities and encroaching oil and gas operations. We hope that in both battles the moderate approach wins the day.
A number of those behind the recall want nothing short of a ban to oil and gas development in Colorado. The end goal is to ban fracking.
We cannot hide our disdain for that approach.
There are legitimate concerns about safety, health and declining property values of having heavy industrial activities like drilling and permanent well-heads and pipelines located close to residential neighborhoods. And state law is woefully inadequate in protecting landowners who might oppose development of the resources below or near their property.
But there is a way forward. We’ve supported reforming Colorado’s forced pooling law so landowners have more rights when big oil and gas companies come to drill.
And Stokes has the right idea when it comes to local control.
Yes, it appears that Broomfield City Council made mistakes when it signed a memorandum of understanding with an oil and gas company to allow more than 100 wells to be drilled within city limits. That was in 2013 and it passed unanimously, including a “yes” vote from Stokes. Stokes was also among six council members who shot down a proposed moratorium on drilling last year, drawing ire from residents who will be the closest to proposed well sites.
But while others rallied for an outright ban — something that would likely be struck down in court and then rendered useless — Stokes and Councilwoman Sharon Tessier worked together to create an oil and gas task force that is on the verge of releasing a draft comprehensive plan that will guide how the city handles and regulates oil and gas development in the future.
And Extraction Oil & Gas has backed off drilling 139 wells in the community for now, slowing down its plans and working with the task force on best practices moving forward. Extraction has also moved 40 proposed wells outside city limits.
That’s how to respond responsibly to conflict, and we hope voters in Broomfield send a clear message that extremism won’t rule the day in our politics.