MARBLE - Although his term in office ends next spring, Marble Mayor Tony Petrocco is facing a recall election Tuesday over allegations that he was in cahoots with a local businessman to defraud the public.
According to the recall committee's statement on the ballot, Petrocco "undermined the public trust by knowingly and willfully acting deceptively in an attempt to secure favors for Mr. Vincent Savage, that are not in best interest of the town or public."
The dispute centers around a garage built by Savage, long a controversial figure in Marble, at the intersection of East Second and Marble streets at the east end of the village.
Marble, an incorporated town in the upper reaches of the Crystal River in Gunnison County, has about 110 full-time residents, according to Town Clerk Karen Mulhall.
Savage's garage, according to Mulhall, is believed to extend several feet into the public right of way, and sit adjacent to the Carbonate Creek trailhead maintained by the U.S. Forest Service.
The Forest Service was working to arrange improved signage at the trailhead and a parking area for visitors and, according to the recall committee's statement, the negotiations involved a deal for Savage to build a septic system for his garage.
According to the ballot language, the mayor was in "collusion" with Savage over the deal, in a way that is termed "a deceptive proposal that attempted to mislead the public."
Petrocco is accused of misleading the the town board in stating that the Forest Service was "willing to work with Marble" on the parking lot, according to the committee's statement.
The committee alleges, "Mr. Petrocco knew full well that this was not true, and he also knew that Mr. Savage was writing a deceptive proposal apparently designed to mislead the public into thinking that there was USFS involvement."
Petrocco's rebuttal statement on the ballot states that the real problem is one of antagonism among certain neighbors of the Savage property, which has spilled over onto his job as mayor.
"James Aarts, Larry and Karen Good, and Vince Savage will never get along as neighbors," states the mayor's rebuttal. "This is a fact."
He accuses Aarts and Larry Good of undertaking "a willful, systematic and coordinated campaign of harassment and character assassination toward me" over a disagreement about Savage's garage septic system.
He calls on voters to "condemn" the recall effort, "and then forgive them [Aarts and Good] as we are a quiet residential community living in harmony with one another."
Only one candidate, relative newcomer Jason Rusby, has stepped up to try and fill Petrocco's post through the end of his term on April 3, 2012.
Mulhall said the election will cost the town approximately $3,000. She has sent ballots to all 118 registered voters, both active and inactive, some of whom do not live in the town.
Due to statutory requirements governing possible procedural challenges to the election, Mulhall said if the recall against Petrocco is successful and Rusby is elected, the earliest the new mayor could be sworn in would be Jan. 5, 2012.