City of Alamosa seeks SOS approval for petitions to recall DA


ALAMOSA – On the heels of passing an ordinance that allows their participation, the city of Alamosa has submitted the necessary documents to the Colorado Secretary of State (SOS) that, if approved, would allow the circulation of petitions to recall Alonzo Payne, District Attorney for the 12th Judicial District.

Last Friday, April 1, 2022, Erich Schwiesow, attorney for the city, sent an email that named Alamosa Mayor Ty Coleman as the petition sponsor. That same email also included, as required by Colorado Statute, the “Statement of Grounds for Recall.”

In that document, Schwiesow stated:

Alonzo Payne fails to perform the basic functions of the office of District Attorney, and what he does is misguided and dishonest.

Fails to perform basic duties:

  • 20+ arrest warrants for serious felonies, from just one community, sat unprocessed in the DA’s office for weeks, including domestic violence, assault, menacing, forgery, burglary, leaving perpetrators on the streets.
  • Constant failures to comply with the Victim’s Rights Act, including 8 violations in just first year in office for treating victims with disrespect and failing to consult with and keep them informed. Reduced an agreed upon plea deal to spite a victim that filed a complaint.
  • Backlog of 116 serious cases not filed in 6 months or more since law enforcement referral. Of those, 29 are more than a year old.
  • Can’t keep deputies.

Dishonest and unfit:

  • Cited for contempt of court for lying to the court.
  • Lies to victims about the status of their cases.
  • Allows and promotes an unprofessional environment including alcohol in the office.

Misguided

  • Has stated doesn’t think jail is appropriate.
  • Grants lenient plea deals for serious offenses such as murder, assault, drug distribution.
  • Refuses to file or dismisses charges related to serious animal cruelty cases.

Upon receipt, the Secretary of State has seven working days to review the statement submitted. Based on the day the email was sent, the city should receive an answer from the office of SOS by April 12, 2022.

If approved, the city and others who are involved in the recall campaign, have sixty days from the notification of approval to collect the required signatures and submit the petitions to the SOS.

Only individuals who are registered to vote in the six counties that comprise the 12th Judicial District are allowed to sign the petition.

According to state statute (CRS § 1-12-104(1)), “a recall petition must be signed by at least 25% of the entire vote cast at the last preceding general election for all candidates for the office of the incumbent being recalled.”. 

According to Alamosa City Manager Heather Brooks, Alonzo Payne was elected with 15,984 votes across the judicial district. A recall petition would need to be signed by at least 3,996 registered electors.

However, Brooks, who is a member of the team that is coordinating efforts in the recall campaign, the goal is to collect 6,000 signatures by the 60-day deadline to allow for individuals whose signatures may, for reasons related to eligibility, be struck from the petition.

It is also their goal to collect signatures from across the San Luis Valley.

“We are putting in place the structure to handle the petitions so we are ready to distribute once we get them,” Brooks says. “That includes keeping track of who has a petition packet and making sure they have the rules on how to circulate the petition and submit it back to us.”

Brooks goes on to say, “Once petitions are out and collecting signatures, we plan to turn our attention to ensuring that replacement DA candidates know about the opportunity and the process to get their name on the ballot.”

Brooks also added that, if anyone is interested in circulating a petition, they should contact her office with the City of Alamosa at (719) 589-2593 for more information.

In a letter recently published in the Courier, the Alamosa Chamber of Commerce also stated its intentions to serve as a “petition location” with instructions to email [email protected] for more information.

When asked for a statement, DA Payne responded, “It concerns me that the taxpayers of Alamosa have to have their city council expend taxpayer dollars unconstitutionally and utilize the city attorney’s time to support these efforts; as opposed to focusing on the issues they are charged to deal with.”

This is a developing story and more will be reported as it becomes available.

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