On Tuesday night, Avon City Council unanimously approved reimbursement to Mayor Sarah Smith Hymes and Council Member Tamra Underwood for expenses incurred during the November recall election.
Although the recall election failed on Nov. 2, 2021 — with more than 70% of Avon voters rejecting the recall of both candidates — Smith Hymes and Underwood each spent more than $5,000 fighting and campaigning against effort. Colorado state law allows municipalities to reimburse candidates who are recalled, and not recalled, for certain recall-related expenses.
The order authorizing reimbursement will reimburse Smith Hymes for $5,500.53 and Underwood for $5,941.35. These expenses were a mix of legal fees throughout the recall process as well as costs associated with running a campaign last fall. These are all legal requirements according to Acting City Attorney Karl Hanlon.
And, at Tuesday’s board meeting, Smith Hymes noted the recall costs were far beyond what she and Underwood had requested.
“I just want our council and our community to understand that the cost of this recall goes far beyond the monetary cost stated in this memo. Tamra and I are both self-employed and we’ve spent hundreds of hours on the recall, which means it’s hundreds of hours that we’re not putting into our own businesses,” said Smith Hymes, speaking before she and Underwood were recused from the discussion and vote. on the prescription.
Smith Hymes added that it was not just his time and that of Underwood, but also that of their friends and family “who have taken time in their lives to help with this process”, as well as the staff of the city, whose time was also “loaded” during the encore.
Although the board didn’t have much discussion about the approval before the unanimous vote, several members of the public expressed support for the refund.
“It shows who we are as a city and who you are as a council, now you’re going to support your fellow councilors who have been through all of this hardship – emotional, mental and financial,” said Rich Carroll, Avon resident and former member. of the Avon City Council. “It also respects the wishes of the people who wanted, and want, Sarah and Tamra up there.”
In support of the refund, several members of the public said failure to do so would send a negative message to potential future council candidates.
“Their expenses were very reasonable and necessary to fight a very ill-conceived and unpopular recall election,” said Avon resident and former Avon City Council member Kristi Ferraro. “Recall mania seems to be growing in Colorado and across the country; and if we are going to attract good candidates to run for council, you need to show people that the city and their fellow city council members will stand up for them and support them when faced with these frivolous removal efforts.
Those sentiments were echoed by council member Lindsay Hardy, who said it was “heartbreaking to walk into so much drama in the city and see how these characters intimidated our council members”.
Hardy was elected to the board in November 2020, just after the recall effort began.
“I couldn’t afford an encore,” Hardy said. “And I want more people from my demographic to show up. I think it’s imperative that we move forward with this and hopefully with less drama.
The council will have to vote on the ordinance one more time before it is officially passed and Smith Hymes and Underwood are reimbursed. The second reading and vote on the ordinance will take place at a future council meeting.
Journalist Ali Longwell can be reached at [email protected]