Lamar Council Votes Against Challenging Court Ruling on Petitions

 

The Lamar City Council voted no twice, following an open discussion of the avenues left open to it regarding the March 24, 2022 District Court ruling by Judge Michael Davidson, declaring the marijuana election results invalid.  The votes were challenged in January resulting in a court trial against the City of Lamar and City Clerk.

Judge Davidson ruled that because the petitions were nullified due to insufficient signatures through a clerical error, ultimately, the votes cast in the November 2021 election to legalize marijuana sales and subsequent sales tax levies in Lamar, 2A and 2B were also invalid.  That in turn, negated the two ordinances, 1248 and 1249, the council scripted to authorize the sales and the sales tax following the majority of election votes cast in favor of each question.

During the open work session and City Council meeting on April 4th, Mayor Kirk Crespin  laid out the questions the council needed to consider, “Should the council vote to enter into ligation to appeal the judge’s ruling or should it accept that decision,” he explained, adding that the council would also decide whether to act to place the questions before the voters in 2022 without the petition process, or decide to take a step back and see if interested parties would handle the process of organizing another petition drive for later this year.

“We’re not going to entertain any statements on the pros and cons of marijuana itself,” he cautioned at the outset of the work session, which was a standing room only event, “Otherwise we’d be here all night without making any progress.  What we are doing is allowing each speaker in the next hour, three minutes each to comment on the decisions that the council faces in light of the court ruling.  The council wants to hear from the public and allow you this opportunity to voice your opinions on the matter.”

The overall thrust from the dozen or so speakers was to have the petition process done over and to keep the city out of the initiating process.  “Let the people decide on the issue.” was the general comment made by most speakers.  The petition drive was organized by a marijuana enterprise group out of Pueblo known as SoCo Rocks.  Several speakers were critical that outsiders had brought the marijuana sales question into the community, preferring that it should be handled by local residents.  Others acknowledged that marijuana is here to stay in our society, but the city must take steps to deal with potential increased costs to the community through the social and legal impact that will occur once sales are legalized in Lamar.

Terry Sanchez, representing SoCo and Herbal Garden Enterprises, the group responsible for the petitions, said his commercial interests are a part of southeast Colorado, adding that it is legitimately licensed for that purpose, in rebuttal to an earlier claim that it was not.  “We received no favors from the city in our petition process,” adding that City Clerk, Linda Williams, had thrown out the first set of petitions that were deemed incorrect.  Sanchez offered that if the decision is made by the council not to have the city place the marijuana questions on the next ballot, his group will.

Each council member commented on their view of the situation, again generally in support of abiding by the ruling of the court whether it was for or against the validity of the election votes.  The council was unanimous in their vote not to pursue any future litigation challenging the court’s March 24th ruling.  The council was split on whether it would place or ‘refer’ the marijuana questions, legalization and taxation, before voters this November, at this time, eliminating the need for petitions.  Council persons Crampton, Bellomy and Jenkins voted yes with Mayor Crespin, Tamez, Riley and Gonzales voted no.

Crespin said the council reserved the right to modify its vote should a future petition develop ballot questions it does not agree with regarding its introduction of marijuana to the City of Lamar.

In other action, City Administrator, Rob Evans, presented a basic plan of in-kind support to Sparrow House Ministries to remove concrete slabs from its property intended to become a vegetable garden to augment its food donations to area residents.  The cap was set at up to $2,000 in labor and equipment and the council voted its approval.  The next council meeting is Monday, April 11th.
By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: Chamber of CommerceCity of LamarConsumer IssuesEventsFeaturedHot TopicsPoliticsPublic Safety

Tags:

About the Author: