Recall elections are all the rage in Jefferson County these days. Again.
The ostensible justification for the recall campaign is that the School Board Majority violated their collective oaths by pushing through changes in funding for charter schools and for hiring a lawyer. Of course, the underlying reason is a bit more mundane: some people just don’t like that they won.
Still, they have done nothing to help their own cause by becoming a national punchline with their occasional incoherence and ignorance of anything in the realm of public relations. But that’s another story.
My reason for not supporting the recall is simple: they never misrepresented themselves. As embarrassing as it might be for some in JeffCO, this board is exactly who we thought they were. Did anybody really think they were a fan of unions? No. Did anybody in JeffCO expect that, given the climate around education in Colorado, they would exercise restraint? No. Did anybody really think they would be staunch defenders of the status quo or a voice for collectivist ideology? Of course not.
The real reason for the recall drive is to get a second chance at beating them—they want a “do-over.” And I think that’s a terrible reason for a recall. This isn’t second grade on the playground. You don’t overturn legitimate elections in this country because you don’t like the results.
My advice to the recall proponents? Win elections. Run better candidates, or get better strategists, or, for goodness’ sake, somehow try not to be surprised when, in the last two weeks of the campaign, the other side has enough resources to fight a winning battle. The unions aren’t the only players in school board elections any more.
Elections have consequences, and if you don’t like the consequences of losing elections, then do a better job winning. But going back for second chances strikes me, frankly, as immature and undemocratic. That’s not how we’re supposed to do things. We already have a chance to overthrow the government every two years—we shouldn’t need “do-overs.”
There. I just tricked you a little bit. Happy Halloween.
No, not in the sense of how I feel. Rather, in that the above column is a nearly word-for-word reprint of a column I wrote two years ago in the Denver Post (“We Should Not Need Do-Overs in Elections in Colorado, June 29, 2013) . On that occasion, I was voicing my disdain for the recall campaign against Democrat Evie Hudak. Alter a few pronouns, change the issue profile, and the reasoning is exactly the same.
There are a great number of very good people who could not disagree with me more on this issue, and I respect that (I assure you, that respect is not reciprocated). But the National Education Association put 48 staffers on the ground in Jefferson County in the summer of 2014, long before most of the controversy happened. Someone was itching for a fight, and the board majority led with their chin. But this recall was about the results of the election long before it was about anything the board did or didn’t do.
My understanding is that recalls exist to address the unknown: revelations of criminal or corrupt behavior, or blatant misrepresentations. I cannot imagine the writers of the Colorado Constitution envisioning a situation where every election gets challenged two years later by the losers.
And, though there have been allegations of wrongdoing, so far, an aggressive and well-funded opposition has yet to file any charges.
If you truly believe this board acted criminally or with gross corruption (as opposed to the rather pedestrian corruption we’ve come to accept in politics), then, by all means, vote to recall the board. But if this is just about undoing the results of a lawful and democratic election, then vote no. You’ll get another chance to throw them out in two years—exactly how we’re supposed to do things.
Michael Alcorn is a 24-year Jeffco public schools teacher, a father of 3 Jeffco students.
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