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RE-1 School Board Member May Face Recall Attempt

Austin Cope
KSJD File Photo

Critics of Montezuma-Cortez RE-1 School District Board member Lance McDaniel have launched an effort to recall him from his position. According to Montezuma County Clerk Kim Percell, who replied to an open records request by KSJD, two district residents have begun circulating a petition to advocate for his removal.



The statement of grounds for the recall petition alleged McDaniel has shown a “lack of leadership and has proven to be a poor role model for our children.” 


Among several examples, the statement described McDaniel's social media posts about racial, political and community issues, such as a post that declared “I’m Antifa” during nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd, and photos of chalk and paint in downtown Cortez criticizing police. The document stated that McDaniel promoted local vandalism by posting the photos, and described the George Floyd demonstrations as “mob protests and horrific destruction.” The statement also alleged McDaniel insulted veterans in his response to the renaming of Cortez City Park, when he allegedly posted “The Damn veterans won again!”


“We need school board members that understand leadership and the power of mentoring, and know not to voice their personal, political, or social opinions that could influence children,” the petition stated, explaining that many students in the district are active on social media and follow McDaniel’s posts.


In an interview with KSJD on Tuesday, McDaniel said he was aware of the recall effort, but largely unconcerned, since the school board position is unpaid, and that most of his actions and votes on the school board have been in line with the other board members’.  


“When it gets down to it, I’m a loudmouth liberal, and they don’t like that,” he said. 


He explained that several generations of his family have lived in the area, and he grew up in Cortez, but the politics of the town haven’t  changed much over the years. 

“The conservatives don’t like the fact that there are some more progressive people in the town,” he said.


He stood by his posts on social media, and explained that supporting antifa does not mean that he is part of a “doomsday roster,” since antifa is not an organized group. He also expressed his support of the Black Lives Matter movement and of defunding the police. 


“My personal opinion is that [conservatives] have bullied us long enough, and that we don’t need to be quiet.  If I see racism, I’ll point it out; if I see someone being oppressed, I’ll say something about it.” 


According to Percell, the organizers have 60 days from July 13 to collect approximately 1,200 signatures, which would make up 40% of the RE-1 residents who voted in the most recent school board election. Percell explained that if that number is reached, and if the signatures are successfully verified, the issue will enter a protest period before moving to the ballot. Depending on the results of the protest period, the issue could either be on the general election ballot or go to a special election. 


The organizers of the petition, Malynda Nelsen and Deborah McHenry, were not available for further comment Friday.

Austin Cope is a former Morning Edition host for KSJD and now produces work on a freelance basis for the station. He grew up in Cortez and hosted a show on KSJD when he was 10 years old. After graduating from Montezuma-Cortez High School in 2010, he lived in Belgium, Ohio, Spain, northern Wyoming, and Himachal Pradesh, India before returning to the Cortez area. He has a degree in Politics from Oberlin College in Ohio.
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