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Petitioners cite engagement as reason Heath recall dropped

Councilman Mark Heath reached out and listened, petitioners say

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Castle Rock District 2 Councilmember Mark Heath listened. And he tried to become a better representative to his consitutents.

Those are the reasons the petition to recall Heath became the only one of the three recall petitions to not move forward, petitioners said.

“It was obvious that Mark was trying to find ways to work within the boundaries (of the quasi judicial process) and still listen to what constituents had to say,” said Thomas Curtis, one of the petitioners, noting that this was a different approach than those of Paul Donahue and Renee Valentine, the other two councilmembers up for recall. “The other two have tried to damage the credibility of the petitioners.”

Claims in the petition to recall Heath dealt with budget approvals; failure to support Citizens Petition 2016B, which gives citizens the right to vote on annexations of five or more acres; and putting a time limit on public input at town council meetings.

To understand where the recall petitions came from, Curtis said it's important that residents understand the dynamics of the people involved in petitioning for the recall — that they are not against growth, but want their concerns about how the town grows to be heard.

“We are not anti-development, radical environmentalists,” he said. “I was not at all involved in the prairie dog issues. These are performing, productive citizens in society. This is not a vocal, radical minority. This is normal people in the business world.”

Instead of dismissing these citizens, who wanted their voices to be heard on issues at council, Curtis said Heath reached out to them in an attempt to better represent them.

“It was only recently that we were in the midst of the petition activity that we saw results,” Curtis said, adding that he had tried to reach out to Heath before with limited success.

Heath's approach of engaging with the community to discuss concerns is how Castle Rock resident Bill Placke said elected representatives are supposed to work.

“I believe the juxtaposition of Mark's response to Valentine and Donahue speaks volumes,” Placke said. “Mark reached out to engage with the people to understand the issues, concerns and then set out to address these with town staff. (It's) a great change from where we were eight months ago, when no one in the town seemed to care and still referred to the developers as `our customers.' ”

Heath was first elected in 2012 and is up for re-election in November. He was unavailable for comment.

Recalls still in progress

A mail-in ballot election on the recall of Mayor Paul Donahue, who represents District 1, has been set for July 26. Voters in that district can expect to receive a ballot in the mail in July. The district includes the western side of The Meadows neighborhood.

Donahue, who is term-limited, was first elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2012. His term will expire in November. He was appointed as mayor by other members of council in 2012 and again in 2014.

Castle Rock Town Clerk Sally Misare has also validated enough signatures for the recall effort of Councilmember Renee Valentine to move forward in Castle Rock's District 5, which includes Castle Oaks, Cobblestone Ranch, Escavera and Founders Village.

A protest hearing on Valentine's petition has been set for 10 a.m. June 3 at Town Hall, 100 N. Wilcox St., Castle Rock. The hearing will be conducted by Karen Goldman, an independent hearing officer and Aurora's deputy city clerk.

If the protest is denied, the question regarding Valentine's recall will be added to the Nov. 8 general election ballot for District 5 voters.

Valentine was elected to office in 2011 and her second term expires in 2018.

Both Donahue and Valentine will continue to serve in office while the recall process takes place.

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