RIO GRANDE COUNTY - A petition is circulating throughout Rio Grande County to recall Rio Grande Commissioner John Noffsker. A committee comprised of Mona Syring, Mettje Swift and Deanne Elliott began the petition due to their rising concerns with how Commissioner Noffsker is handling everyday business and in relation to the recent employee turnover in the county offices.
According to county records and statements made by Syring, there have been several resignations and terminations during the time Noffsker has been in office though some of these do include circumstances where individuals may have left the county for other reasons than those mentioned in the petition.
In the petition, reasons for the recall are as follows, “We, the voters of Rio Grande County, hereby set forth recall proceedings against Rio Grande County Commissioner John Noffsker. The grounds for this recall are actions by John Noffsker that illustrate misfeasance and malfeasance of his elected office and include, but are not limited to, actions in violation of Rio Grande County Policies and procedures.”
The complaint list states, “Creating hostile county employment environments resulting in volunteer and forced resignations and internal personnel chaos. Creating adversarial environments and chaos with other elected officials. Incompetence, not being prepared for meetings, and failure to grasp issues facing the county where important decisions were to be made on behalf of the county, which in turn is a failure to perform the oath of office. As an elected official, failure to effectively communicate with his constituency.
"Conducting himself in an inappropriate manner to his peers, subordinates and external citizens including, but not limited to, acting in a volatile, confrontational and unprofessional manner. Failure to follow state and county policies, procedures and statutes including, but not limited to, open meeting laws.”
Four Rio Grande County elected officials spoke out contrarily to the reference “chaos with other elected officials” stating that they were never contacted by the committee that is proposing the recall petition and do not feel that they work in a chaotic or hostile environment. In order to remain in compliance with their elected office roles and keep in good standing with the public that they serve, the four elected officials decided to remain anonymous.
There is a total of 9 elected officials in the county including the three commissioners. Commissioner John Noffsker has refuted all allegations within the petition. The timeline and state statute guidelines that must be followed in order for the petition to reach a ballot either through a special election or in time to be placed on the November ballot follows:
“When a group or committee decides they want to start a recall, they first have to submit a sample petition to the Clerk and Recorder for approval. Statute lists what must be on the petition and what cannot be on the petition. Once approved, the Clerk notifies the committee that it is approved, and they can then start gathering signatures.”
The Clerk also notifies the one(s) that are the subject of the recall petition. The committee designated on the petition must gather signatures from voters registered to vote in the county of the recall. Statute states the number of acceptable signatures is 25 percent of the votes cast for the position in the last general election - 909 verified signatures are needed to force a recall. The designated committee has 60 days from the date of the approval to submit the petition to the County Clerk and they can turn it in early if they choose to.
Once the petition is filed, the Clerk will verify the signatures as eligible and notify the committee. The person(s) who are the subject of the recall have 15 days to dispute any signatures. If there are disputed signatures, the clerk will verify or dismiss the disputed signatures. If there are a sufficient number of acceptable signatures, the clerk will notify the petition committee and set the date for the recall election not less than 30 days or more than 60 days after the petition’s approval.