Moab resident David Lyle may be collecting signatures for a recall of Grand County Council Vice-Chair Curtis Wells, but it is unclear whether the move will be allowed under state law. Grand County Attorney Andrew Fitzgerald said his office is analyzing the issue.
“There are currently several petitions for recalls for this election coming up … the other issue we’re looking at is whether or not those will be able to go forward … recalls and the term limits likely are illegal … they’re arguably not available to us,” said Fitzgerald at a recent League of Women Voters event.
Moab resident and ardent Republican politico Cassie Patterson also took out notices of intent for recall petitions on Greg Halliday and Evan Clapper but decided to not file those notices of intent after finding out that the constitutionality of recall was in question.
Lyle took issue with Wells’ involvement with House Bill 224, a recent state law that requires Grand County to change its form of government. Wells has claimed responsibility for helping author the section of the bill that makes it mandatory to choose one of four forms of government, none of which are Grand County’s current form.
Lyle was involved in the 1992 effort to change the Grand County government from a three-person commission to its current form, a seven-person council. He said that with three commissioners, it was easy for two to make deals and exclude the third perspective.
“If you only have three commissioners, if you can get two seats, nobody else is represented, period … these [two] guys were deciding how it was going to be … before they ever went to the meeting. They might as well not have bothered with the meeting. That really infuriated almost everybody in this town at the time. It was their arrogance … that they could do whatever they want because we couldn’t stop them, that got us all motivated to do something about that. It also got us motivated to go for a nonpartisan [council]. None of these [council members] are supposed to be working on party lines. That’s not how we’re set up,” Lyle said.
Grand County Council Chair Mary McGann has said that Wells may have violated council policies if he represented himself as the Grand County Council while working on H.B. 224, since he was not authorized by the council to do so. Wells has responded that he never represented himself as speaking for the council to the legislature or the Utah Association of Counties.
Lyle is not convinced.
“[Wells] says he was not up there talking to the UAC as a [council member] but when you’re a county [council member] in a nonpartisan government, you can’t go up there and pretend like you’re not a [council member]. That’s the reason he was invited up there, is because he is a council member and he is a Republican,” Lyle said. “I don’t feel like being the great leader of the crusade against Curtis Wells, but I do think Curtis Wells needs to go. I think he needs to go because his talk doesn’t match his actions.
“I also think he needs to go because he is an at-large representative of every person in this county and he says that he represents the people in Grand County, but when more than two-thirds of the people in this community are liberal and he’s trying to do away with a liberal, working form of government for something that is deliberately partisan, I’m sorry, you are not representing your constituents.”
The recall petition is co-sponsored by Marc Horwitz, LorRaine Guymon, Teresa Fearing and Janet Deal. The group will need 679 verified signatures to get the issue on the November ballot, Lyle said. Lyle said that several citizens around Moab and Castle Valley would be collecting signatures.
ByBy Rose Egelhoff