The issue: Special interests are trying to recall Sen. Pete Lee.
What we think: Lee took 62 percent of the vote. Let him do his job.
Tell us what you think: Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By any measure, Sen. Pete Lee (D-Manitou Springs/Westside Colorado Springs) is good for Colorado Springs, good for El Paso County and good for the state.
The 40-year Colorado resident served eight years in the Colorado House of Representatives before running for the District 11 Senate seat in 2018, receiving 62 percent of the vote.
He’s chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Committee on Legal Services and vice chair of the Finance Committee.
He has worked to create jobs, improve job training and help small businesses, and to help service members transition from the military.
He’s been the driving force behind the restorative justice movement in Colorado and pushed to reform the criminal justice system.
He has brought a long, long list of bills to the House and Senate and works effectively — and frequently — with colleagues from other political parties.
His Senate candidacy was endorsed by the Colorado Education Association, the Sierra Club, the Colorado Medical Society, NARAL, United Food and Commercial Workers, ONE Colorado, the Colorado Association of Realtors and Colorado Ceasefire, among many others.
He scored a 100 percent on Conservation Colorado’s 2019 Environmental Scorecard.
But none of this matters.
Lee has a target on his back. He’s the subject of a recall signature drive — a ploy by slick political operatives who dislike his stance on a handful of issues.
It’s an unnecessary, potentially expensive, politically driven recall effort by a noisy few who believe their selfish whims are more important than the will of the voters.
To be successful, recall proponents must gather signatures equal to 25 percent of the ballots cast in the preceding election. In Lee’s district, that equates to 11,304 confirmed and certified signatures necessary just to get on the ballot. Those driving the recall effort have 60 days (by Sept. 10) to collect these signatures and force a vote.
Lee hasn’t been accused of a crime. Recall proponents don’t claim he’s guilty of any ethics violations. There’s no question about his dedication to his constituents, to the city of Colorado Springs or to the state of Colorado. There’s zero concern that he’s in the pocket of high-dollar lobbyists influencing the way he votes.
There’s only one reason for this recall effort: Lee votes his conscience. Period. As one of the best legislators at crossing the aisle and finding common ground, it’s ironic these influence-peddlers are focused on him.
Recall organizers don’t care that Lee won an easy majority of the vote or that he’s brought a steady stream of healthy change to the state. They aren’t interested in his standing up for public safety, the environment and criminal justice reform.
This is the same playbook special interests used to get John Morse, a former police officer, recalled from this same Senate seat in 2013.
Yes, there are times when a recall election is necessary — as when an elected official displays moral turpitude or is caught with a hand in the public cookie jar. But no one is accusing the senator of any impropriety. Instead, he has voted his conscience on the issues on which he campaigned, such as:
• ensuring oil and gas development balances the needs of citizens and the industry;
• promoting restorative justice and sentencing reform;
• funding all-day kindergarten;
• capping insulin prices; and
• allowing judges to temporarily restrict violent individuals’ and domestic abusers’ access to guns.
Clearly, the recall organizers don’t believe in the state’s political processes. They aren’t interested in representative democracy. They believe their desires trump everyone else’s. They’re the bullies on our political playground.
The recall effort is unfair to the voters who put Pete Lee in office and unfair to this public servant, who deserves to serve his full term. It’s unfair to Colorado Springs, which needs solid representation from a legislator who’s above reproach.
So the next time someone at a gas station, grocery store or street corner asks you to sign a petition to recall Pete Lee — just decline. Let’s end this nonsense before it gets started and allow Lee to get back to work on the people’s business.