Dismiss Polis organizers bullish in Garfield County
Gun laws, the national popular vote, and oil and gas regulation are leading some in Garfield County to sign petitions to recall Gov. Jared Polis just six months into his term.
And organizers say it’s more than just Republicans who want to fire the Democratic governor.
“This is not a Republican effort; this is very much a Colorado-citizens-who-have-had enough-already effort,” said Sherrona Bishop, chair of the Dismiss Polis effort in Garfield County.
Dismiss Polis was recognized by the Colorado Secretary of State July 8, beginning a 60-day window the group has to collect 631,266 signatures. Dismiss Polis has a goal of 900,000, which would be more than 10,000 signatures a day.
It’s unclear how many complete petitions have been returned locally or throughout Colorado thus far. Bishop says that many petitions have gone out, and are slowly being collected.
“There are Democrats, unaffiliated, independents, Republicans, conservatives — there are people who have never voted in their lives who are registering to be a part of this effort,” Bishop said.
“We have so many petitions out, and people gathering them, that it would be inaccurate to give a number,” said Karen Kataline, statewide spokeswoman for Dismiss Polis.
Carrie Couey, chair of the Garfield County Republicans, also said that it’s not just Republicans signing the petition.
But, while Couey said she signed the petition, neither the local or state Republican Party has endorsed the recall efforts.
“I am not taking an official stance [on the petition], because there are differing opinions,” Couey said. But she noted, “if the grassroots effort succeeds, we will stand behind them.”
Garfield County Democrats Chairman John Kousouloudis said Polis’ work has done good things for all of Colorado, from education initiatives like additional support for preschool and kindergarten to lowered health insurance premiums.
“These things are not just benefiting Democrats or a particular part of the population, they’re benefiting everyone,” Kousouloudis said.
The recall effort “makes no sense,” Kousouloudis added. “Polis got elected as a clear majority, and in his very short time as governor, he’s delivering results.”
Polis won the statewide election for governor last November with 53.4% of the vote to Republican Walker Stapleton’s 42.8% and 2.8% for Libertarian candidate Scott Helker.
The Democrat even won in typically red Garfield County, with 49% of the vote to Stapleton’s 47.5% and Helker’s 2.5%.
But Bishop believes a closet majority in Garfield County is concerned about Polis succeeding on his agenda.
“We want to trust our government, but when we start feeling the effects of their legislation daily, it doesn’t sit well with people. They understand that the government is overreaching,” Bishop said.
The trifecta of Democratic control in the state House, Senate and the governor’s mansion helped push through 460 new laws in Colorado, several of which were highly controversial.
Among the most contentious bills was Senate Bill 181. It allows for more local regulation of oil and gas activities and shifted the mandate for the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to one of regulating, rather than fostering oil and gas development.
Bishop says the new law has already had a negative impact on oil and gas jobs in the Garfield County, which is the second-largest gas producing county in the state.
The Red Flag Gun bill, which creates a judicial system to remove guns from those deemed dangerous to themselves or others by a court, violates several portions of the bill of rights, said Kataline, particularly the Fourth Amendment that prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.
In Colorado, if enough signatures are gathered to recall a candidate, he or she has five days to resign or stay and face a statewide election. The recall ballot would also have alternative candidates.
Polis won about 350 more votes in Garfield County last November than Republican Stapleton.
But when it came to specific policies on the ballot, like Amendment 112 that would have established greater oil and gas setbacks statewide, Garfield County, along with most of the state, voted them down.
To Bishop, that indicates that Coloradans are socially progressive, but want the government to stay out of their lives as much as possible.
“It is my opinion that the political parties try to separate Colorado citizens, when we actually hold the common ideas that the government should stay out. But everybody should be welcome and feel loved,” Bishop said.
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Grace Wesseling is an animal lover, a cheerleader of seven years and another soon-to-be graduate of Bridges High School, class of 2021.