Former Englewood mayors file effort to recall Barrentine

Woodward, Penn among group pushing to unseat District 3 councilmember

Posted 4/20/18

Calling her actions on the Englewood City Council “constant obstruction,” a group of former Englewood mayors and residents has filed to petition to recall Councilmember Laurett Barrentine from …

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Former Englewood mayors file effort to recall Barrentine

Woodward, Penn among group pushing to unseat District 3 councilmember

Posted

Calling her actions on the Englewood City Council “constant obstruction,” a group of former Englewood mayors and residents has filed to petition to recall Councilmember Laurett Barrentine from office.

“Council Member Laurett Barrentine demonstrates conduct unbecoming of an elected official and creates a toxic, counterproductive dynamic on Englewood City Council, preventing Council from acting in Englewood's best interest,” the group wrote in an affidavit received by the city April 17.

Former Englewood Mayors Randy Penn, who served from 2011-15, and Jim Woodward, who served from 2007-11, signed the document. It accuses Barrentine, who was elected in 2015, of “bullying and unwarranted threats to fire City employees” and of “regular distortion of facts and outright lies.”

Supporters of the recall have 60 days to collect signatures after the city clerk's office authorizes the petition. If successful, the petition would require the city to hold a recall election to decide if Barrentine should be unseated.

Barrentine has until 5 p.m. May 1 to file a statement in her defense that would be included on the petition. The clerk's office will authorize the petition around that time or around when Barrentine files, whichever comes first.

The petition needs 25 percent of the amount of registered voters who voted in the race for Barrentine's office in the previous municipal election to sign on, according to the Englewood Home Rule Charter. Nearly 1,500 voted for the District 3 position in 2015, the last time the seat saw an election — a successful petition would need 366 signatures in the district. District 3 includes roughly the southeast and middle parts of Englewood.

The effort could lead to the first city council recall election in Englewood in more than 20 years, and just the third in city history, according to a city document.

Woodward announced the effort at the April 16 Englewood City Council meeting, where he criticized the “dysfunction and division” of the council and “meetings being hijacked” by Barrentine with “tirades intended to delay the business of council.”

“Additionally, we have witnessed what we believe to be deception, misinformation and lies by omission,” Woodward said during public comment. In “my opinion and that of other District 3 citizens, these harmful and unjustified acts by (Barrentine) are malfeasance, in violation of the public trust.”

Barrentine disputed the picture of council as dysfunctional.

“I think that's just digging up from old rhetoric that was going on, and I think this council has moved past the perceived tone of things and into the issues,” Barrentine said in a phone call. “I think this council is strong enough and mature enough and works well enough to handle questions and debate and conversation well.”

The grievances are vague, said Barrentine, adding she's “offended” by the idea that staff needs to be protected from council.

“To just sling mud is probably not productive. If we could get down to (specific accusations), then we could address the specific issue, but to just say, 'I don't like' somebody or 'I don't care for the way they behave or act,'” isn't productive, Barrentine said of the criticisms. “If it's a personality issue that they just don't like me, that's unfortunate because they're missing out on” important issues before the council, she added.

“Nobody's going to intimidate me or stop me from doing my job,” said Barrentine, who said bringing up issues or asking questions on council is her job.

Steve Yates, a former at-large city councilmember, helped put some people in the group pushing for the recall in contact with each other.

Council meetings “have gotten even worse since myself” and former Councilmember Rick Gillit were voted out, said Yates, adding that “the sheer lack of things getting done” is the reason for the recall petition.

“The attacks on community members (during council meetings) and attacks on staff have gotten worse,” Yates said.

After the November election, residents started getting together to discuss a potential recall, Woodward said.

"We thought that it would probably ultimately be cheaper to do (a special election) than letting her stay and" delay actions of council, Woodward said.

Penn said he's worked with six people from District 3 in the effort toward the petition.

Barrentine "is part of a council that needs to help develop the city financial structure and become a positive force in creating the budget and help develop a plan that (is) in the best interest in Englewood," Penn said. "She needs to help develop and approve of the budgeting efforts."

If a recall succeeded, Penn hopes a new councilmember would "bring a positive nature" to council, he said.

"They (should) do their research, ask for material that will help to make council and (the) city more functional and be a voice for the citizens in District 3 and the entire City," Penn said.

Since early January, the council has operated without a District 1 representative after former Mayor Joe Jefferson stepped down to take the position of municipal judge. That left the council in a 3-3 split on whom to appoint to fill his vacancy, and the body has run with six members since then. The impasse, at the time, highlighted ideological differences among the councilmembers.

That gridlock triggered a special election for May 22 to select the next District 1 councilmember, who will likely be sworn into office in early June.

For a map of the council districts, go to englewoodco.gov/inside-city-hall/city-council.

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