Hal Bidlack

Hal Bidlack

So, I’m sure you all read last week’s column, in which I mused a bit about what I called the frivolous recall efforts aimed at our state’s pretty darn good governor. If you were among the kind readers who read all the way to the end, you also saw my comments regarding an ongoing recall effort in Woodland Park, a nice community up the road in the mountains west of Colorado Springs. And at least one person did read to the end, because you see, just this week, an angry email rolled in.

My basic point was that the people behind the recall were trying to remove a person elected to that city’s city council — an office to which he was elected only last April — on the legal sticking point that he had not technically lived in the community for the required 12 months before the election. The CP article explored the situation and from that reporting I guessed that the target of the recall was, well, not the nicest of people, and that his attitude might be the real reason for the recall of City Council Member Jim Pfaff.

To the apparent great surprise of “Woodland Park Concerned Citizens,” I suggested that while I likely disagree with Mr. Pfaff on, well, just about everything, I did not think it was proper for a recall campaign to be launched so soon after an election in which he got enough votes to win.

And as I have often ranted (Ed: more of a “harangue”) about my dislike of hypocrisy in the political world, to say nothing of my concurrent dislike of recalls that seek to undo a free and fair election, I felt the need to support the gent from Woodland Park on principle, even if he is not the most likeable of folks. I cannot rail against the effort to recall Polis and then remain silent about an effort to recall someone from the other side of the aisle, tempting though that might be.

So, the aforementioned “Concerned Citizens” made their displeasure known to me via an email that was unsigned by any individual (as is their website, as far as I can tell), and the troubled citizens wrote: 

Mr. Bidlack,

In reference to your article on recall elections and Jim Pfaff in Woodland Park:  We cannot imagine why you would come to the defense of this man who is doing all he can to ruin as you say our “gorgeous mountain town.”  There was a key error in your article either from your interpretation or how you were told about where Mr. Pfaff has lived. He does not live in a trailer park. He lives at the Bristlecone Lodge, which as you can see from their sign in the attached photo, is an RV Park with B&B Cabins. Mr. Pfaff lives in an RV. This is a campground not a trailer park as you assert.  There are legal differences between the two that I know you can appreciate. Please have the journalistic integrity and courage to correct. Please visit www.recallpfaff.com  for updated information we have gathered so far. 

Thank you,

Woodland Park Concerned Citizens

While I am only writing one man’s opinion, I do like to get things correct. And so, I would like to immediately acknowledge my apparent error in having called Pfaff’s location a “trailer park” when it is more properly called an “RV Park.” That is a clear mistake, and I regret the error. I can only hope I have demonstrated the requisite “journalistic integrity and courage” by correcting my mistake. RV Park, not trailer park, got it.

That said, and with due respect to the nice folks in WP, I stand by my main point, which is that we seem all too quick to jump at undoing elections these days. One need look no further than the recent embarrassing behavior of Mr. Trump in seeking to undo what nearly 60 judges (including several he appointed) who said there was no fraud and the election in November was free from significant problems, and that Joe Biden did, in fact, get the most votes. To believe otherwise requires one to only watch the hardest of the hard right media and to be willing to say that literally thousands of Democrats and Republicans around the country colluded with dozens of judges, cops, poll watchers, and Fox News, to steal the election from Trump but also totally forget to grab the Senate and a bunch of state legislatures. Oh, and that conspiracy apparently now also includes Moscow Mitch McConnell. 

Now, I know those last few sentences were almost certainly futile and will have no impact on the “stop the steal” people, but I had to try.

I am a big fan of civic engagement, and I commend the WPCC folks who wrote to me for caring deeply about their community. But, just as I was often lectured after Trump won in 2016, I now gently remind my correspondents that elections have consequences and sometimes you lose. If Pfaff or any other elected folks engage in high crimes or misdemeanors, well, then, let’s get them recalled. But just not liking the outcome of an election — or the person him or herself who won — is not a good enough reason to undo the will of the people. 

I do not know if Pfaff lived in the RV Park (see? I got it right) long enough, but whether he got there a week too late or not, I do not support his recall on a technicality. I do suspect I would very much oppose his reelection, but only after he has served his elected term. 

Hal Bidlack is a retired professor of political science and a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who taught more than 17 years at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

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