As Teller County's Clerk & Recorder J. J. Jamison hangs onto her job by a thread, the Republican Party Central Committee has initiated the process for a recall election.
“It would be best for the county if she would step down,” said Pete LaBarre, chairman of the RPCC. “She has already cost the county $160,000 and the recall will be another $30,000 to $40,000.”
Jamison's troubles began soon after she was elected to office when the Colorado Secretary of State stated in a report that, after 18 months of observing the office, concluded that Teller County was not prepared to properly administer elections.
As a result, the Secretary's staff arrived on site three weeks before the primary election in June.
After a series of mishaps during the primary, Jamison was removed from her duties as the election official. As a result, November's general election was handled by the Secretary's representatives as well as Jamison's deputies, Krystal Brown and Stephanie Fisher.
The recall is a last resort for the Teller County Republicans, some of whom have sought Jamison's resignation by letter.
“J.J. has failed to respond so it's crunch time,” LaBarre said. “A large number of people on the Republican as well as the Democrat side have asked her to step down. For whatever reason, she has ignored those calls.”
Laurie Glauth, chairman of the Teller County Democratic Party, confirmed last week that she is also a member of the recall committee as a representative of the party.
The recall effort comes five months after a scathing report from Secretary Scott Gessler cited a list of deficiencies in the clerk's office with regard to elections. “Since then, other things have come to light; she hasn't paid bills on time or reimbursed taxes, all this is public knowledge,” LaBarre said.
In a small county where everybody knows your name, the recall action is distasteful.
“I think we've all accepted jobs we're under-qualified for and we can all certainly empathize with going into a job and not knowing the job,” he said. “But to continue to employ this person at the taxpayers' expense is egregious.”
Particularly galling for the committee is what they view as Jamison's lack of accountability. “When J.J. has been asked questions she's blamed everything and anything, has not taken responsibility,” LaBarre said. “But, quite frankly, we're beyond that.”
Because Jamison is a Republican, the party's central committee is taking charge of the recall drive.
“J.J. was elected through the party so I have a responsibility to the party and the county,” LaBarre said. “It's purely business. But we all have a responsibility to ensure that elected officials are doing what they are supposed to be doing.”
Carolyn Fairchild, a member of the recall committee, agrees that the issue with Jamison is not political, far from it. “As Republicans we could just fall in line but I don't believe that is in the county's best interest, don't believe that on the face of documented dereliction of duty partisan politics is ever in the best interest of the county, the state or the nation,” she said. “I do believe it's everybody's duty to stop putting partisan politics ahead of the best interests of Teller County.”
As the committee prepares to file the paperwork for a recall petition, the human aspect of the recall pops up again. “We have to file this in the Teller County Clerk & Recorder's Office,” Fairchild said. “That adds to the stickiness of it.”
From there, however, the El Paso County clerk's office handles the details, Fairchild added. In order to be successful, the recall petition must be signed by eligible voters equal in number to 25 percent of the entire vote cast at the last preceding general election for both candidates for the office. Jamison beat her opponent Julie Mestas.
To a request from the Courier, Jamison said she has been advised not to comment. As the issue heats up, Jamison said she has a meeting with the recall committee the week of Jan. 21.