Idaho Springs voters will decide early next year whether to oust Mayor Michael Hillman from office after signatures gathered by the effort to recall him were verified by the city on Friday.
The City Council during its next regular meeting, on Jan. 13, will pick a date for a special recall election. The election must be held between 30 and 90 days after that meeting.
Voters will be asked whether to remove Hillman from office and then, on the same ballot, asked who should replace him.
To force the special election, recall backers needed valid signatures from just 77 voters, representing 25% of the total number of voters who participated in Idaho Springs’ 2017 mayoral election. They turned in more than 150 signatures.
The recall was prompted by a group of citizens worried that development in the town is moving too quickly and without enough citizen input. Some longtime residents say they are finding it difficult to live in the Clear Creek County community; they also question whether the plans are being executed properly.
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Hillman says he has worked hard to improve Idaho Springs and ensure it’s ready for the future, and he has criticized the recall effort as being frivolous. “There’s no grounds, there’s no basis for it,” he told The Colorado Sun earlier this week.
Hillman and others are worried the recall could hurt several development projects in Idaho Springs by scaring off investors wary of getting involved with an unstable government. Those include plans to build a gondola from the town to a network of city-owned hiking and mountain biking trails above the city’s historic Argo Mill and Tunnel.
There’s also an investment team, which includes Denver preservationist Dana Crawford, eyeing the Superfund Argo mill site for redevelopment into a commercial village with homes, condos and a hotel along Clear Creek.
Hillman is in his second term as mayor. He was unopposed in his 2017 reelection bid.
Idaho Springs is the latest Colorado community to be embroiled in a recall effort. Over the summer, opponents of Democratic Gov. Jared Polis and a handful of Democratic state lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to recall them from office. Several smaller communities, including Elizabeth and Estes Park, have gone through or are going through recalls.
State lawmakers are poised to weigh reforms to Colorado’s recall process in the upcoming legislative session, which begins in January.